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Shea Lopez on who to pick for your Fantasy Surfer team

| posted on October 13, 2011

Supertubes is more than capable of delivering some of the world's best beachbreak barrels. Photo: Joli

If you’ve ever seen or surfed Supertubes going off (like it’s forecasted to be next week there) then you would have most likely experienced some incredible beachbreak tubes and howling offshore winds. This combo will see the Tour return to the fundamentals—pulling in, coming out, and maybe carving the crap out of the shoulder. Watching all the airs has been great, but nothing beats Supertubes’ bone-breaking peaks detonating just off the beach in a way very similar to Off The Wall or Puerto Escondido. I vividly remember Owen Wright’s heat where he blew out his eardrum and tweaked his shoulder when he failed to make the drop on one of the many waves where the bottom falls out when you least expect it. Owen went all-in at that event, charging every suck-out he could find while breaking every board he owned.

After my worst performance EVER on Fantasy Surfer last week, it was time to shuffle my team around again and hopefully turn things around with a big finish as the year winds down.

Most notably would be the removal of Owen Wright from my squad. Just when I thought Owen had it all figured out, in France he was hesitant in his heat against Jordy, and then surfed that heat as if he never really cared. Jordy also stuck a huge backside 360 air first wave to rattle his cage a bit. His replacement: Joel Parkinson—he’s been the poster boy for the old guard, getting swept aside the last couple events. But, what everyone forgets is that when it’s big and hollow (or big and mushy like Bells) very few surfers are even close to his equal. Parko will still be schooling everyone at the remaining Dream Tour locations.

Next, I remembered why I hate having Dane on my FS team—in a heat, he can’t complete a ride to save his life, creating way too much anxiety for me every time he catches a wave. So I replaced him with Michel Bourez. After a volatile run across America with a couple poor results, a seasons-best 5th in France sees him at 11th on the World Title rankings. With proper decision-making, there is no reason why Bourez can’t take home a win with the solid swell forecasted.

Taj is out as well. I’ve watched him surf too well for too long and somehow keep coming up short. Instead, I went with the proven two-time World Champ Mick Fanning. Even though Taj is a superb human and the judges’ blatant push to get him past Travis Logie in France had nothing to do with Taj as a person, I wanted him off my mind so I’d stop getting mad for Travis every time I replayed that heat over in my head. Mick gives my FS team a huge boost when the waves get serious—if you’ve ever watched him surf Off The Wall, you’d know why.

Brett Simpson and Pat Gudauskas have been pretty much interchangeable on my FS team since they both got on the WT. Brett has been surfing marvelously lately, but unfortunately that hasn’t translated to the best results over the last three events, as he hasn’t been able to get the score from the judges or stay on his board when it mattered most. Pat won the Prime event at Ballito in waves that John Florence called “faster and longer than Backdoor.” Since then, it has been a rocky road for the King of Cool as he has experienced the worse slump of his career. A tactical mistake last year in Portugal kept him out of the Semis, so this year’s event is a great opportunity for him to begin a late-season charge that would start him working his way up the WT rankings again.

John Florence was second to Pat at Ballito—that was his first non-victory of the year in serious barrels. I don’t even have to say anything more about his tuberiding skills, just make sure to watch his heats.

Josh Kerr is another no-brainer for my FS team when it comes to dredging sand-bottom pits. The Gold Coast has heaps of them, and Kerr knows just how to ride every variation a wave might throw at him. He’s also exciting as hell to watch surf heats.

Over the course of a year on Tour you remember all those moments where things could have, would have, should have gone differently. When Julian Wilson was anxiously waiting to get off the scaffolding in France—tapping his fingers uncontrollably on the railing—you could see how distraught he was about letting another winning moment slip away from him. If a few things were to unfold differently this year, Julian would be challenging Slater for the World Title right alongside Owen. Nevertheless, it has been a most impressive rookie year for Julian.

K11:
A bad surf forecast here and things may have been different. Barring a Bruno Santos upset—not really an upset though when Bruno beats somebody in hollow surf, it has been happening to the best of them for years—Kelly should cruise through the remainder of the year getting barreled and putting it on a rail faster, harder, and deeper than all the others. Having Kelly and Taylor on Tour still is great for keeping the kids in check and reminding the judges how it can be done when it’s time to lay it down. There are some sections made for airs and some made for deep cuts to the face, and I cringe when people go for airs when they should be gaffing instead.

Those are my eight surfers that fit the $50 million Fantasy Surfer budget. Here are a few surfers to think about for your team that won’t break the bank. They have either already performed well at Supertubes or should have no problem with what they find in the surf there:

Kieren Perrow—He’s a complete madman in the thick and hollow stuff.

Dan Ross—Licking his chops to ride a bigger board in bigger waves.

Raoni Monteiro—Brings the passion of his home country to every heat he surfs.

Tiago Pires—Local knowledge and incredible skills are a deadly combo.

Jeremy Flores—(ankle???)

Ace Buchan—Smart, precise, and gifted when it comes to surfing in any conditions.

Damien Hobgood—Smart, precise, and gifted when it comes to surfing in any conditions.

Fred Patacchia—Brings the passion of his island to every heat he surfs.

Gabriel Medina—On a roll and looking like he can make his surfboard do whatever he wants.

Alejo Muniz—A win in the Prime event at Fernando de Noronha to start the year in similar thick beachbreak is all I needed to see in order to consider him a serious threat at every stop on Tour.

Kai Otton—Loves this shit, hates losing—good combo.

All that’s left is to hope the swell forecast pans out as expected. We’ve all been pretty spoiled lately with the quality of swells gracing WT events this year. Definitely one of the best seasons I can remember.

  • Me, Myself and I

    Shea,

    There is a rumor that Bruno Santos, that amazing tuberider from Brazil, was invited as a Wildcard.
    I do not have any confirmation yet, but if the swell holds up, Bruno is a serious contender, especially knowing that he grew up on a wave very similar to supertubes.

    I would replace anyone in this list for Bruno.

  • sheasees

    For sure Bruno is a serious threat to win if it is hollow. And I might just do a last second swap for him if he is and the swell is pumping

  • joe blow

    John John is a dark horse no doubt about it. Taylor Knox is looks like he’s caught his second wind and is no stranger to beachbreak barrels. Owen Wright and Julian Wilson are strong favorites in my book. I think the spanking
    they got in France will only fire them up. Two big question marks in my mind are Kelly (he looked so uninspired in his last heat
    in France–can he snap back?) and the Wunderkind Gabriel Medina (can he handle big gnarly barrels?)

  • Tony Carson big island

    You guys are living in a fantasy world, go out and catch your own wave.

  • Hillbilly

    I really like putting Mick in there, but I have to think Jordy is going to make some heats. They’re only getting 2-3 days of solid surf, and I think they’re going to push to get this done early in the waiting period, so if it gets chunky and smallish for the later rounds you have to think Jords will have the momentum and the chops. I’m looking for guys like Kerr and Julian to go deep in this one too.

  • Bruno

    Boys, mark my words: Gabe Medina learned to surf and lived his whole life surfing a wave as hollow and as heavy as Supertubes! So make no mistake: he’ll be hard to handle at Portugal!

  • dgcova

    shea, my list per country:
    Aussie; Mick and Parko (because those two have too much Surf in any condition) and Owen if it will be big and hollow.
    USA: Slater (even though he was stranger at the last heat in France, He is K11).
    South Africa: Jordy(he rips in any condition)
    Brasil: Raoni if it’s big(he is Sick), Bruno (Pure Front Side Tube RiderMan – one of the bests) and Medina ( He is on a great moment and have skills in hollow waves, because he is from one of the best beachbreaks of the Brazil – Maresias).
    Hawaii: Patachia (If he is on) and Jonh Jonh (Pure Tube RiderMan too).

    Maybe we all were wrong and we’ll fail, that’s why we love our sport so much (things change all the time!!!)

  • http://www.surftrip-tips.blogspot.com/ SURF TRIP

    its confirmed , Bruno the tube techie from Brazil is up against K11 at 1st round , see : http://www.pro-surfing.com/alhunt/files/2011evt10.pdf

  • http://www.surftrip-tips.blogspot.com/ SURF TRIP

    its confirmed , Bruno the tube techie from Brazil is up against K11.
    visit ASP World Tour Schedule Peniche, Portugal.

  • Jerky

    Shea Dogg,

    Owen wasnt hesitant against Jordy. He was going for broke on every air attempt but the offshores were pushing him out the back. I dont give an S about ur team but if the surf is cranking in Portugal, Owen will make the finals.

  • renato

    Its really annoying to verify tha ADRIANO DE SOUZA isnt even been considered at that previous list!!!!

    What a victory!!!

    He prove himself to anyone
    ; – ))

  • http://thisone andrei

    awesome wave dude!

  • Matt O’Brien

    how was that Medina/Wilko paddle battle NOT an interference on Medina? I can’t believe it. Great contest so far, judges look to be trying to redeem their trestles “performance”. But am still a little baffled at the lack of an interference call against Median? oh well, I smell…
    and that “10″ point ride from Medina was a bit over scored! His nose was clearly visible throughout the entire ride. beautiful yes, perfect no.

    and once again… Pat G. ripped but got ripped OFF!