Portugal Preview

Shea Lopez on who to pick for your Fantasy Surfer team

| posted on October 08, 2012

Much like the France event, heats will be decided by barrel riding ability if the swell delivers. Adam Melling, enjoying Supertubes at its best. Photo: Joli

Kelly Slater wins and wins and wins. We have always known this, and have come to expect it while watching ASP events. Very recently, however, Slater and two of his business partners seemed to have garnered another kind of win. He may have taken Lowers and France, but the bigger victory for him comes from the potential new direction of the ASP Dream Tour. It looks like the ZoSea media group may soon be responsible for finding and funneling mainstream exposure and investment into the sport via modern technology and updated business models. In this ever-shrinking modern world, it will be exciting to watch the changes in surfing.

For now, the world’s best have arrived in Portugal and are waiting for a decent swell to awaken Supertubes. Feeling a bit stale, I tweaked my Fantasy Surfer team for this event. Most notably, I’ve dropped Kelly from my squad, as I feel that any 40-year-old human must need a rest after the kind of whirlwind winning spree he just experienced. Besides Mick, my team now is basically groms compared to Kelly. The reason for this is that sometimes it takes the naive eye of a grommet to see something adults are no longer capable of noticing. The grommet inside A.I. took him to three titles against a surfer who no one else had the confidence to go toe-to-toe with.

Here’s my Fantasy Surfer team for Portugal:

Jordy Smith:
He is the only man that can match Dane Reynolds in the water. It’s a bummer that doesn’t translate in the same way to a scorecard.

Owen Wright:
He reminds me of myself when I was on Tour. He’s smart enough to surf to the competitive criteria, but too shortsighted to bring his free-surfing act to heats. But Owen is an amazingly gifted surfer from a great country family who has the ability to surf whatever way he wants. So far, he’s chosen to stick to the criteria.

Gabriel Medina:
He’s as gifted as any surfer to ever touch a board. What you see in his surfing is very close to his potential. After a few more trips around the globe training in the world’s best waves, we will see just what Gabriel’s peak performance looks like.

John Florence:
Perfectly balanced. Enough said.

Kolohe Andino:
You never know how a surfer will recover from injury. For Kolohe it was his first chance to catch his breathe and re-evaluate how far he had come, or how far he had gotten off track. I’ve watched Brother surf since his first rides in the shorebreak at T-Street with Dino and Shane Beschen, and he was always driven to surf as fast, radical, and progressive as his uncle Shane—and later on like his uncle Andy. After his heats in France, it looks like he has gotten back on track and will be a force to be reckoned with in Portugal.

Dillon Perillo:
This guy is so damn good and he doesn’t even know it. Confidence in the water is key if he is to be able to perform to his potential against the best.

Miguel Pupo:
Not many surfers have grace both in and out of the water. Pupo pulls it off very nicely.

Mick Fanning:
Every pack of groms needs an elder to lead the way. Mick is a veteran who is currently surfing at his personal best, but he desperately needs a win to keep Slater honest.

Click here to pick your Fantasy Surfer team.

  • Danny

    Agree Shea, Miguel is all class in and out of water.

  • Ben

    This is the most inaccurate rundown of Shea’s in a very long time. Whereas A) Jordy can’t match Dane in the water, ever, in any capacity, and it is painfully obvious… even exacerbated by Dane’s nonchalance, B) Respectfully, Owen’s act is closer to your brother’s than yours C) Kolohe seems to want to match Mick more than Shane and Andy, though I think a bit of AI aggression would do him a world of good, not to mention 25 lbs of muscle, D) You’re correct on Mick being at the top of his game, which IMO is a bunch of very fast, radical turns. Obviously I can’t do them in a million years, but the Dane/JJF/Slater/AI (RIP) act blows it to smithereens. Don’t give up on Parko; he still has the ability to attain the sublime in surfing.

  • mark

    Dang Ben ease up on Shea!

    Have to somewhat agree that no one touches that bottom turn to frontside gaff of Danes but Jordy comes close. He got robbed at Lowers and was surfing better than anyone else in the event.

    According to my calculations the best scenario for an all time Title finish at Pipe would be: Parko wins Portugal with Slater and Mick in Quarters and Florence in Semi’s. Then Florence wins the Lane with Mick and Parko and Slater either Quarters or maybe Semi’s. Then whoever places highest at Pipe wins the title. Am I right Shea?

  • David

    Dropping Kelly from the roster may light an additional fire in the man. Maybe sneak him back on to the team at the last minute 🙂

  • Wilbur

    Since no one has mentioned it yet, I think it is worth pointing out that, if you drop everyone’s two worst events, Slater is in fact not in 2nd but is actually way out in the lead in terms of the ratings.

    What that means is that he basically needs to equal or best Mick, John and Joel – and he can still potentially afford another screw up as long as it is something better than an injury. Surely this is the way that all the guys in the race are currently looking at the situation. Not ‘Joel is in first and Slater is close behind and playing catch-up’.

  • Ben

    To be clear, much respect to Shea, a great surfer and pundit…

  • sam

    Agreed on all counts Ben..

  • felipe

    you are wrong about medina. he is only 18, and what you have been seen is just the beginning of his act. wait until he turns 23

  • Bill

    Dude, Pick that one guy who totally rips, but then wait, you can’t forget about the guy who makes it to the quarters. You know the one with the two legs and two arms. Man he’s good.

  • spectator

    Mick has to be so pissed about Dane’s showing in France, but it was pretty sick to see Dane surf a contest like a freesurf and get results.

  • Mik

    Hmmm. I think Andy went toe to toe with Kelly because he knew that there was no other way.

    What I mean is this:

    1. It is vital to determine where the best peak is, and plant yourself there, and get the first wave that looks like it has 6—7pt potential, no matter who is in your heat, and all the more important against Kelly. Any surfer who gives their opponent free access to the best peak will lose. Period.

    2. Is this being a hassler??? No. It is taking what is as much yours, as anyone’s. If the opponent tries to take, then he’s hassling you, no?

    3. If you give away this first score priority, you have essentially given control of the heat to someone else. Kelly never does this. He takes what he sees as the best position, and gets in there and gets the best wave. And that is part of why Kelly has 11 World Titles. He figured this math out 20 years ago, bra.

    4. Andy understood this, and he didn’t allow it to happen to him. Add in AI’s ability to blow-up in the heaviest part of the wave, and he had 3 titles in is short but awesome life. (I miss andy, like all of his fans still do, but this in no way diminishes my admiration of Kelly either). They were the best of the best. Amazing talents.

    I think this observation applies to everyone on tour who faces Kelly, including Taj, et al… And it equally applies to the underdog in any heat. If you let your opponent have his/her pick of the sets, and positioning, you aren’t going to be hoisting any hardware at the end of the day… Dane included. (7 losses to Kelly as point of fact).

    So who wins Supertubo?

    Kelly, or whomever absorbs the above….

    Ask Martin Potter.

  • jan key

    geeze shea…you go on and on and on… which hand do you hold the mag in when you fiddle with your team

  • Dirt

    The winner in Portugal will be whoever the ASP decides to let win. And the ASP very much likes Kelly, he is their cash cow. They also Like JJF, Parko, and Medina, Keeping these guys in the event as long as possible ensures maximum audience.
    However, if you want to watch the best surfing being done in the world right now, watch Dane , julian and JJF. The best 3 surfers in the world right now.

  • Al

    What everyone seems to forget is you have a 40 year old with nothing to prove, in superb condition, adapts well to all conditions (Florida does that to you), has superb wave judgement, and has honed his already amazing on-edge surfing by adding an aerial repetoire. He has evolved like the shark into a superb killing machine the likes of this sport may never see again and it is due in large part to his success that surfers( the best athletes in the world and participating in the only sport where you can be eaten- not by the contestants) may finally get their just pay days and recognition. He has dealt with animosity and at times under/over scoring accusations (last time I looked he is not in the booth) and handles each win or loss with aplomb. Go Kelly from a guy that loves surfing since 1966 and has been skateboarding for 51 years (still hit pools,pipes, ditches, and ramps with the KIDZ). Old guys rule. The older the violin the sweeter the music.

  • shea

    Thanks Mark, but nobody needs to ease up on me. I can take heat and throw heat as well– After going to the brink and back numerous times, I am still the same person that battled tooth and nail against the likes of Kelly, AI, Sunny, Mick, Parko and never gave an inch. When people comment and add solid facts and opinions to my pieces everybody wins– The comments below from Mik are not only very insightful, but also completely accurate and are a great addition to the Portugal FS preview. Ben, Owen’s surfing shits all over mine and is closer to approaching Cory’s level of commitment for sure– Where we are identical however is in our approach to competition. And Jan Key if I said something negative about the surfers you’d probably be the first guy to comment that I’m such a negative person– In day to day life, I am actually a very positive person that has issues approaching negative situations– Nobody is perfect, not even Kelly Slater. But Wilbur is absolutely correct to point out what nobody is saying at ASP: Kelly is a good ways out in front when you drop two results, another win in Portugal and it’s time to pop some bottles while whistlin dixie in dixieland for the king

  • Mik

    Thnx for the love Shea!!! One of the best parts of the WCT is the prelude commentary by yourself, and whomever Surfline choses to freak everyone out with.. 🙂

    BTW: Just returned from 2 weeks of 5—10+ surf in Bali…….. Saw some amazing surfing by visiting and local surf stars. Indo is on another level in terms of wave power and speed, so it was a wake-up call to see what it really takes to charge there.

  • Johnny

    Totally agree… the Groms are finally ready to blow up. Kolohe and Miguel can surf pretty close to the level of Medina and JJF. I think the reason Medina and JJF have done so much better than Kolohe and Miguel this year is because the transition to the WT was more natural for them. Think about it, JJF has been surfing Pipeline with WT surfers and legends since he was like 7 years old… for him the transition to the WT is just like going out to surf with a bunch of old family friends. JJF isn’t scared of Slater… he’s been surfing w/ slater since he was a little kid. I think Kolohe and Miguel have been scared to surf their best because they’re still mesmerized by the fact that they’re on tour with their heroes. Eventually the spell will wear off, they’ll realize that Slater and Parko bleed just like everyone else, and they’ll start posting some good results. The only question is when. I think they’re ready now but only time will tell.

  • Darren

    Thanks boys, So sick to have the feedback on here from Shea and Mick. Mick’s points are well said. What obviously blows us all away about Kelly is his drive to continue winning plus the Freakazoid factor …You guys see that Drive Thru episode where Pat O caught a little barrel at some average beach break and then Slater had to go get a better one….That about says it all. I have to imagine Slater would love to pass the torch, but he won’t give it away, you have to take it…

  • driftwood

    this is blasphemous hog wash…your going to lose big time!

  • Al Goodwin

    Shea should know better than omitting Kelly from his picks. I think he realises he isn’t going to win the Fantasy Surfer comp and is trying to get a little swirly as Rob Machado would say. Sure Kelly’s expensive but we know why. As for him being a bit tired he’s never tired of winning and I reckon he still goes harder than anyone, demonstrated with some of his insane and dangerous finishing manouvres when the young guys are usually pulling out and claiming it!
    Good one you though Shea, you’re there for entertainment ,not to win it.

  • Chico

    At this time slater is reading this and say ” I gonna win in Portugal just because of this dream team, should be where” .
    And about the POrtuguese tiger Tiago? We Never now If he is going to passe the pressor and finally explode in is backyard !

  • smido

    Did Shea really compare himself to Owen Wright?

  • Ben

    BTW, why AI beat Slater three times: HEAVY WATER. Look at their man on man records in waves of consequence, namely Pipe and Chopes. It speaks for itself. Add the Slater-befuddling Sunset to the tour (Which AI, Parko, and Mick totally rule) from 2001-2004 and you have a recipe for Slater demise. Obviously Slater is the greatest of all time in virtually all waves, but when conditions went past that eight foot redline, AI absolutely ruled.

  • bigacesurfer

    Kelly lost that heat against Ace in France,he knew it and came back with a fire burnning!!!! But Ace should have won ,Kelly overscored again!!

  • Jack-O

    Shea needs to quit his obsession with Chloe Andino… He’s just an average surfer (i could care less about his family, royal blood or him being another young blonde photogenic californian). He’s only heavilly sponsored. His 5th place in France was luck. He got the lower scoring heats of the event.

  • Mark

    Has Dillon Perillo ever won a single heat in a ‘CT comp? I know he’s had at least two different wildcards and gone out in the 2nd round twice. Not a good pick imho.

    Also, I’m not sure what your (Shea’s) goal is for this team but it seems very boom or bust to me. Why take a very poor contest surfer (Dillon) if you aren’t bringing out the big guns like Taj (3rd / 13th / 9th), Joel (5th / 3rd) or Kelly (2nd, 1st, 17th)?

    …and don’t forget the Pupo / Medina friendly fire in Round 1, Heat 9 – Pupo doesn’t have a good record of getting out of the 2nd round especially against Medina (13th) and Wilko (13th / 9th).

    How are you gonna diss your Florida boys Damien (9th / 5th / 5th) and CJ (13th / 9th)? That’s just wrong.

    For those wondering, the parentheses hold the historical placing for each surfer @ this contest 🙂

    Good luck.

  • Matt O’Brien

    why was kelly surfing against wildcards all year (as #1 seed i get it) but in France he wasn’t (Mick #1 and Joel#2) BUt now first event after france and Kelly is in #2 spot SO he surfs against wildcard again?!? That makes no sense! So Mick only got #1 seed for one event? Does that mean every event will have different top seeds based on real time rating position? why then was kelly surfing against wildcards all year long, when he was in 3rd (sometimes 4th place?) Am I the only one asking this question? anybody?

    p.s. BEN: Kelly never won Sunset because he doesn’t really excel in 4 man heats, NOT Because he can’t perform in waves over 8ft! If I do recall Kelly surfs just fine in heavy water: the Eddie (win AND 2nd to Greg Long), Chopes (x4!), Pipeline!, Tavi!, Supertubes, Shipsterns freesurf, Todos Freesurf (on a 5;9″ mind you!), 2nd @ mav’s to Flea – Nice try with your little jabby jab BUT NOPE YOUR WAY OFF!!

  • sam

    Matt O’Brien – It does make sense, you just don’t understand it. Firstly the seeding for the first half of the year took into account rankings from last year, as the change in qualification made it necessary for everyone to start at 0 in 2012. That is why John John was first on the one world rankings earlier this year – he dominated the prime and star events as well as solid results on tour. Kelly had enough points from last year to be 1st for WT seeding for most of the first half, eventually taken over by Mick and Parko.

    Second, it is you who are way off – Ben was not saying that Kelly cannot perform in heavy water (which he obviously can), but rather that his man on man record against Andy was even worse in solid waves as that is where Andy really came alive.

  • Ben

    Dead-on Sam. No knock on Slater’s surfing ever; his Eddie win, huge chopes, etc. are no joke at all. It is simply that AI elevated, especially when facing Slater, in waves of consequence.

  • Moss

    Thanks Shea as your insight is great. Two things:
    AI beat Slater because he wanted to destroy him just as Beschen used to beat him as well. You can’t be Slaters buddy and expect to beat him. I know Parko has a good record against Slater but he is too nice to overtake the King

    I think Slater just doesn’t like Sunset as a wave thats why he hasnt done well there

  • Matt O’Brien

    sam – thanks dude for clearing that up. I was a bit confused (obviously!) that is why I asked. And Ben and Sam – thanks again for clarifying the Andy/Kelly “issue”, his is why I took the time to interact with this thread. Fun Fun Fun. cheers!

  • sam

    No worries, the system changing each year has made it a bit tough to understand but I think they have a good balance going now.

  • The One

    LOL! I’ve only been watching pro surfing for a year and even I know never to take Kelly off your team! I’d go with the Portuguese, not because of they can do “blah blah blah” or they placed “blah blah blah” in the “blah blah blah” pro, but because they’re on their home turf. I usually always do well when I match up surfers with their home turf, then put Kelly and Julian in (because he’s cute and I like seeing his picture on my team 😉 so shoot me). I like Mick Fanning too, but I’m not sure he would win in these kind of conditions. Like I said, I’m a newbie, but it seems like he does better in bigger, cleaner looking waves. Correct me if I’m wrong. Gabriel Medina is always a good choice. I’ve never seen him ride a wave he didn’t look comfortable with. The kid rips!

  • cobber

    Ben … you’re a knob … another marketing victim