Lowers Preview

Shea Lopez on who to pick for your Fantasy Surfer team

| posted on September 11, 2012

If last year's performance was any indication, Julian will be a tough draw for any competitor. Photo: Ellis

The Lower Trestles event has traditionally been a litmus test for the remainder of the year. Perhaps more than any other stop, the soft, slow, manicured Southern California waves allow for an unmolested view of the World Tour talent. This very even playing field will separate the legitimate world-title contenders from the rest. With plenty of events left to get on a roll and charge up the rankings, you look as far back as Gabriel Medina (13th on Tour), and believe, like he does, that the 2012 World Title is still priority No. 1. In fact, if Mick finishes 25th at Lowers and Hossegor, and Medina wins both events, they are essentially back on equal ground. I recently captioned some photos to bring the uninitiated up to speed with the current top 13. If you aren’t familiar with these surfers, click here before you construct your Fantasy Surfer team.

When building a Fantasy Surfer team, a few main factors come into play. If you picked up any surfers for a steal earlier in the year, and they have since gone on a tear, their Fantasy Surfer value has risen considerably as a result. Case in point: Mick Fanning and John Florence have seen their values increased substantially by a combined total of $5.5 million—that is more than Miguel Pupo would cost you alone. That being said, hanging on to both surfers for the remainder of the year gives you the ability to have the best team possible within budget constraints. Yet for me, having both Mick and John for all of 2012 hasn’t been enough to combat poor choices when selecting the remaining six surfers, e.g. Kelly, Julian, and Wilko at Teahupoo.

With average, but fun swell forecasted during the waiting period at Lowers, I anchored my FS team with proven Lowers veterans Mick and Taj. I went decidedly youthful for the remaining spots, because the children are our future, and Lowers consistently favors modern surfing more than any other local. Here are my eight Fantasy Surfer picks for the 2012 Hurley Lowers Pro:

Mick Fanning:
I have always respected Mick’s surfing—decidedly steadfast in his approach year after year. He builds on his strengths and never strays very far from his proven formula for success. Even though he receives criticism for the very things that make him great, Mick looks within himself and channels his strength and focus to put on some of the most stellar performances you’ll find within the constraints of competition.

Taj Burrow:
The road takes its toll on the uninitiated. As an astute observer of his surroundings, Taj, on the other hand, has been able to constantly adapt. He uses life on the road to stay meaningfully engaged, and pursue his lifelong goal of becoming a world champion—a goal that has an expiration date looming in the not too distant future.

Julian Wilson:
When Julian rides a wave, he never performs with reserve. He chooses instead to rise up in the face of his opponent, posterizing their inadequacies with technically advanced, powerful surfing. In an attempt to keep up, most opponents will simply fall flat on their face.

John Florence:
Along with Julian, John is one of the first to breakout and challenge the established lions (Kelly, Joel, Mick, and Taj) as legit threats to their entrenched positions at the top of the rankings. With the level of surfing in competition rising considerably with just a small influx of young talent, one can hardly wait for others from their generation to make their way onto the big stage.

Gabriel Medina:
What’s the difference between Gabriel and the rest? He has a singular focus, direction, and goal. He not only recognizes what he needs to achieve it, but he follows that vision with total commitment. Not many professional surfers immerse themselves so fully in their work—even less have the raw talent for riding waves that Gabriel does. Beyond just surfing, the most talented individuals are often a complacent, well-paid breed that get by on their talent and never have to dig deep to find out what they are truly capable of. Gabriel puts the pressure on those surfers until they eventually crack.

Kolohe Andino:
There are big question marks hanging over Kolohe at the moment. What kind of form will he return from injury in? When will he show us he’s capable of keeping up with Gabriel and John (peers who were previously less heralded, but are now much more advanced)? Returning to competition in his backyard, Kolohe has the perfect stage set for him to answer all questions.

Evan Geiselman:
Once considered an equal compared with the freakish talents as John, Gabriel, and Kolohe, the public perception of Evan has shifted. Like Kolohe, Evan is coming off a major injury with little momentum or hype heading into this event. With San Clemente serving as Evan’s home for now, the game will be played on his court, to his strengths, with the afternoon northwest winds tilting the odds in his favor. He’s liable to serve up a major upset, and even Medina will be pushed to keep up when it becomes a battle of airs and blow-tails across Lowers’ famous lefts.

Pat Gudauskas:
The froth is strong in this one. Pat has been pushing through a tumultuous season, and finds his very place among the top 32 threatened. You can see the cracks forming in the uber-positive front-runner of the Gudauskas trio. But what the cracks show is a surfer on the brink of shifting into another gear—a place inside himself he’s never had to draw from before. His performances early in competitions, and his level of surfing outside a jersey, signal that he will continue to elevate in order match the elite ranks that he belongs in. Lowers has done the dirty on Pat before, but a little more experience and calm nerves might be all he needs to be a dominant force at home, as Shane Beschen was throughout the ’90s.

Pick your team for Lowers here.

  • Danny

    No Miguel Pupo!?

  • Danny

    Well, Kolohe were more heralded that JJ and GM simply because he is American. So they need the “next Kelly Slater” and he looked (and maybe is) the best young american surfer. But he never showed to be as good as Gabriel, JJ or Miguel, who don’t get, in my opinion, the recognition he deserves.

  • Michael

    okay, needing some help with my fantasy surf team for this lowers event…

    I’m keeping Gabriel Medina, John John Florence, Mick Fanning, Kolohe Andino and Pat Gudauskas (Yeah, I know, I am lucky to have picked Gabby, John John, & Mick up early in the season).

    I have Owen Wright, Josh Kerr, and CJ Hobgood and am thinking of changing them out for Julian Wilson, Jordy Smith, and Bede Durbidge. The financials work perfectly in my roster. Is this advisable for the Trestles event seeing as how I probably won’t be able to get Owen & Kerzzy back after the event?

  • Adam hughes

    How don’t you have Kelly on your team when he’s the winningest surfer at this event and has been in every final except 1 since 2004 Gabriel got smoked last year and even though he won this year the only real threat he faced was Dane who just got hassled out Of the heat and taj has been off since bells

  • Ben

    Kolohe more heralded than JJF? Not for me. JJF is the best in the world right now, and makes KA look like a little boy across the board.

  • Mark

    This is why surfermag articles/writers can’t be taken seriously… instead of picking the all-time favorite for this event “Slater”. Lopez picks his SC homies. It’s like picking the Tannehill, Vick, Luck and Locker over Manning. LOL

  • J.D.

    I’m a pretty solid Kolohe hater. I think he surfs like a Grom among men. But the truth is, he probably has more experience surfing Lowers than anybody in the field. It’s like choosing John John at Pipe. Sure others have had more success there, but if the waves are good, you can’t under estimate how far local knowledge will carry you.

  • Kris Carrison

    I’m looking for Kelly to flair up and spank the entire WT roster. He owns Lowers, and he’s won, what, 5 WT events there? Would love to see John John in the final. He’s just absolutely going off this year. Good picks except that I’d swap Kolohe and Evan for Kerzy and Pupo. Let the games begin!

  • Scott

    Dear Mark,

    These blogs are meant to aid in your decision, not make them for you. That’s why its called Shea’s picks, not Marks picks. And another thing… dont hate on Shea, him and his brother rip harder than you ever could dream of. SC??? Get your facts straight kid, the Lopez family is from Fl and only one of his picks hails from this great state. Please in the future, think before you wright.

  • ricardo

    of course Gabriel will take it easy easy, and the others brazzos will make their noise as always, specially at lowers skate ramps!

  • Troy

    There are adds on the surfer site that are causing your site to stall. I had to use an add block to post this 🙁

  • patrick

    Local surfers do not have an advantage at Lowers when it comes to “wave knowledge”. Sure they might be extra motivated in front of family and friends, but Lowers is so ridiculously easy to surf that no professional surfer has trouble figuring out what to do. All of these guys have surfed this wave or something similar countless times in their lives. Any one of the guys who are powerful and progressive have a chance at winning. Fantasy surfering is dumb. This isnt the NFL.

  • big fan, big, big fan

    some of you don’t understand how fantasy surfer works do you? these aren’t shea’s favorite surfers, or even his picks to win, they’re who he thinks will collectively get him the most points.

  • http://na andy

    Simpo will shock the field and in the final beat Jordy.

  • Mark

    What happened here? Like I said Slater always needs to be in the picks when it comes to Lowers, Tavarua/Fiji, Tahiti and Pipe. Any pre-event analysis without him is negligible.