New York Preview

Shea Lopez on who to put on your Fantasy Surfer team

| posted on August 31, 2011

If tropical storm Katia lives up to her hype, New York could look something like this for the Quik Pro. Photo: Lusk

In an unexpected turn of events, the contest site for New York was paid a visit from Hurricane Irene. It resulted in city officials panicking under the sheer volume of areas needing attention, along with numerous uncertainties that still exist. Everything was cancelled, production crews were told to go home, the surfers were notified of the situation and told there was only a glimmer of hope as they attempted to convince the City of Long Beach to allow only the surfing part of the festival.

Things weren’t looking good.

It seems someone on the inside had enough understanding of the situation to realize a 36-man contest would be a breeze to pull off under the circumstances. This is the first time I’ve seen surfers and government work things out on the East Coast. Just last Saturday, 50 local surfers and I spent all day being told to stay 300 feet away from the pier behind my house so one fisherman from Ohio could attempt to fish for frozen shrimp in a raging ocean.

The shittiest thing about the near cancellation is that the charts are looking as good as I’ve seen in a very long time for NY to receive an excellent extended swell event. If this dream scenario comes true, it would be equivalent to winning the lottery—that’s how many factors have to come together to produce world-class surf in New York. After the perfect conditions in Tahiti only a few days ago, somebody either made a deal with the devil, or God decided to throw us a bone for having faith in an event at a location that sees no form of consistent swell and relies solely on seasonal tropical systems to produce those few epic days.

I assembled a team of surfers for my Fantasy Surfer team that I think will find NY’s culture and surf to their liking. They are as follows:

Joel Parkinson
If football (American) is a game of inches, then surfing is a sport of moments. When the heavily favored Parko loss to Simpo in Round 2 during Tahiti, he had the wave, made the drop, and was just a moment away from a 10. That moment never came, as happens so many times at Teahupoo—the wave finds a way to eat you up. Now Parko finds himself in familiar territory again as we approach the halfway point—watching himself slip down the ratings. If he stands any chance of putting a halt to the tremendous momentum Kelly has built, he not only needs to win NY, but he needs to beat Kelly convincingly during the event. AI was the only guy to stick it right to Kelly. Less Free as a Dog and more Raw Irons is his only hope for a World Title.

Josh Kerr
As witnessed during Tahiti, Kerr can ride the tube like he was born in there, and we all know that even Taj can’t match his air game. Presently at his career best of 7th place on Tour, Kerr still has the potential to rise further in the ratings when you compare his surfing to his competitors. NY’s bowls to ramps suit him terrifically.

Balaram Stack
This is by no means a sympathy pick for the young New Yorker. Stack is a world-class tuberider and aerialist, and he will need both facets of his game if he plans on making even one heat. If conditions cooperate, we will be seeing a lot of this skinny goofyfooter, as he flies from jetty to jetty deep in the tube.

CJ Hobgood
It is the bottom of the 9th, with two outs and a full count for CJ needing a solo homer for the win to stay alive in the playoffs. If you know baseball that all makes sense. If you don’t, CJ is about to drop like a rock to near 40 on the One World Rankings come September 3 when 8,000 points from last year’s 2nd place finish in Tahiti disappear. If he can’t make the quarters at minimum, CJ will most likely be off the WT for an extended period of time, given the lack of Prime events during the second half of the year. Not to worry though, that shouldn’t happen, as CJ should feel right at home in NY’s reeling lefts.

Julian Wilson
Nobody looks as good under the bright lights as Julian does. With an unprecedented amount of attention and money focused on this event, Julian will be looking to put his best foot forward as he continues his meteoric rise toward international stardom. The win here is a very important piece to that puzzle. Did I mention he can do anything he wants on a surfboard in any conditions? Watch and you shall see.

Taj Burrow
It was all going so smoothly. Every mag in the world proclaimed him the in-form surfer and most likely to win the World Title in 2011—much the same as so many previous years. And just like years prior, Taj now finds himself a pawn in Kelly’s game of complete domination. Whether it be WT or Prime events, Kelly now leads both ratings. Taj needs to go on one of his winning sprees—the kind that usually finishes off one year and continues into the beginning of next—but this time have it run through the heart of the season. Taj may have brought a different, more-focused approach over the last few years, but he still keeps butting heads against top-tier surfers and coming up short. The streamlined focus of his late-career push may be too little too late for Taj to come out on top. Now I’ve been wrong before, and I will be wrong again. Hopefully in the case of Taj, I’m out to lunch, because his surfing and personality are off the charts.

Owen Wright
Remember the big Russian Ivan Drago in Rocky IV? That’s how intimidating Owen is as a surfer. Wipe that shit-eating grin off his face and he becomes equally intimidating as a competitor. Settling into the WT format, and what it takes to win at that level, Owen appears to me as the greatest challenger to Kelly’s 11th title while the extent of Jordy’s injury is still to be determined. With the potential for him to get scores on his frontside at all the remaining WT events, this is a much better scenario for young Owen to dominate.

Kelly Slater
If I (or anyone) blow any more smoke up his ass, Kelly is likely to fly away. Kelly, for the first time in his career, looks to be completely enjoying himself—relaxed, and as comfortable in his own skin as humanly possible. It is this mindset that sees him reaching peaks in his performance that weren’t possible in the past. Another factor behind him enjoying everything so much is he wants to soak it all up, cherishing these final moments of life on the WT as he goes for one more spin. He’s pulled the plug on the show a couple times before, this time with it growing bigger and better than ever. We better watch every last moment of his 11th world-title performances.

Far Too Early Swell Report For NY:

Sept. 6: 6-foot at 15 seconds, north winds 10-20 mph

Sept. 7: 8-foot at 15 seconds, north east winds 15-30 mph

Sept. 8: Still getting bigger…

  • m@Rk

    A lot of naysayers (mostly west coast and international cats) that make fun of the choice of being in Long Island are about to eat some serious foot-in-the-mouth. NEWSFLASH: The top 32 has a MUCH better chance of getting spit out of tubes in LI, NY than ANY contest in Brazil or CA. Trestles and Brazil never see hollow gaping tubes in the way that NY/NJ produce. FACT. Matter of fact, neither does Bells. …. Just ask Mitch Crews, Andrew Doheny, and Fisher Heverly and Cheyne Magnusson what they thought of being disgustingly gutted in “8ft hawaiin” caverns on 8/28/11 in NJ while Sam Hammer and Mike Gleason schooled ALL of them on how to go steep-n-deep. Peep Surfline footage that’s up right now for a teaser.

  • Mike

    East Coast+Quick=Ke11y…all done!

  • Rambo Estrada

    How does Balaram Stack go in a contest jersey?

  • MIk

    Team of the Century, looks like. One omission though is Jordy, who is still in it. And then there’s there’s Wilko who is gaining momentum.

  • shorepound

    No Gabe? Come on Shea!!!

  • d

    If its short, no one will be able to face Jadson’s air skills.

  • Paul

    I would put Adriano, Mick, Jadson and Michel on the team. Remove Julian, Kerr and Owen.

  • Hubes

    @Mark, yes Long Island on a Hurricane Swell will produce gaping barrels more than trestles, but is pretty much blown out crap 350 days out of the year. I’m way more interested in seeing no jet ski assist at Ocean Beach, SF than watching aerials in NY

  • http://Wankers.nut RevGmoney

    Jim Hogan and Chris Frohoff in the final. Insane.

  • Oscar

    Is Jordy going to show?, What about Dane?

  • Jose

    Mark while it wasn’t 8 ft Hawaiian the surf was def. firing that day. And you’re right Southern Cal rarely gets that way. Yes Cal is more consistent and therefore has better surf but if you can stand the cold and are patient NY/NJ offers high quality surf. Hammer and Gleason surf extremely well in the pit. Hopefully everything comes together for the event.

  • ike

    @d…Jadsen has one air. He can do it over and over again! So what? Last years potential is this ears yawn…still no rail from the guy! Bur really, I see your logic. If the surf is shitty, a Brazilian might win. What s the correlation?

  • John McKay

    This is a “100%” great assesment for the NY event Shea!

  • Mez

    Katia + Escon-Lido = French beach breaks going positively richter. When do you think the Frogs get many of their swells from? Right after “we” do. And the tropical season ( yes, east coast is not swell model of consistency for sure ) is far from the only time the mid-Atlantic and Northeast produce a “few epic days”. Far, far from it, just ask Sam and Gleason ;-] Great stuff tho’ Shea, I’m really enjoying both your writing and contest announcing- keep up the good work and go back up there in Oct. /Nov. for a Nor’easter- and bring me with you !

  • Jadson has on air?

    Are you fucking kidding me? He got a 5th going backside on classic Bells.
    And yes, if the conditions sucks we expect to see not only Brazilians, but the air guys in general dominating the contest.

  • Jeriko

    Nice writing Shea.

  • daniel

    Im tired of reading negative remarks about the brazilians on the WT, its flat out american biggot crap. I know brazzos crowd lineups and drop in etc and thats all uncalled for and rightfully criticised. It happened to me in Peru and I was very upset with them as were all the locals. But in the WT, all the commentary from online kooks is just freakin americans being racists (and like it or not, its what y’all are best at). Now im being guilty of it, so sue me (thats another thing you strive on)

    Enough discrimination, surf or die!!!!!!!!!! (btw im panamanian)

  • Brendan

    Balaram Stack, Jordy and Julain Wilson OMF that would rock!

  • jose


  • Matanzas Gator


    Damn fine assessment of the contests potential and the surfers. I just surfed Long Island for the first time last month and had a blast. If Katia cooperates, and that is a large “IF,” it has the potential to be as good as the European and Brazil legs of the tour.

    Wilson, Wright, and Kerr seem to be the most “in form” surfers, but look for them to be distracted like Mick Dundee on their first bite of the “Apple.” That place is waaayyy to tempting for any Aussie Surf Star to resist. Hell, even No Name Aussies receive a ridiculous amount of attention from East Coast Chicks, let alone Top Dollar Stars. The East Coast boys ought to arrange for a limo to pick ’em all up at the airport and send them downtown and watch the carnage unfold.

  • miguel

    I love how East Coasters always say they get barrels and Trestles doesnt….well duhh!!! Compare apples to apples…Trestles is a point wave…as is all the other points in the area where all you east coasters flock every summer. When Trestles is breaking there are many other places to get spit out of barrels if that is what you want….nice thing about here is we have variety….ever heard of DMJ’s?!?!??! suck it

  • Munch

    Great read, as usual

    The forecast shows a SE swell coming (rigth?), so what are the best swell and wind direction for the spot? Will this SE swell be a direct hit on the spot?


  • yoav

    love it and it will be good if we can see some more pictures.
    at surf line there are 31 pictures

  • Munch

    so Shea, will this SE swell be a direct hit on the spot?

  • Munch

    how hard is it to write a couple word to a surf fan?

  • munch

    should have said “words”

    ohh fuck it

  • shea

    comp should be starting in a couple hours. hopefully the winds are favorable during the next 4 days and we will have an epic event. SE swell is perfect for lefts running jetty to jetty, also perfect for Fl as we have already had two days of fun waves from Katia here. I’m leaving the house in the dark right now to go get me a few early morning waves then watch a few heats. best time frame for Katia’s swell to best in NY is Thurs late to fri early

  • Me

    As I said, in these type of conditions, you should never bet against the brazzos. Its a good move if you wanna keep your money..

  • munch


    I’ve seem a lot of talk about some really strong onshore winds coming with the swell, so sounds like it will be very challenging out there.

  • Lucho Soto

    Your predictions are pretty good Shea.
    I remember telling in lowers a year a go that you do a good job and you know what’s up in surfing competition.