Shea’s Picks for Chopes

Our World Tour pundit sets his Fantasy Surfer lineup for the Billabong Pro Tahiti

Where has Medina been this year? Shea Lopez thinks he'll be back to old form at Teahupoo. Photo: Glaser
Where has the Gabriel Medina gone this year? Shea Lopez thinks he’ll be back to old form at Teahupoo. Photo: Glaser

When simply surviving your heat becomes a victory in itself; that’s contest surfing at Teahupoo. A wave intent on beating you down and ripping you limb from limb, a wave capable of expiring your life force if you set your feet wrong. It takes incredible merit and quite the mental fortitude to face a surf break that even the world’s elite Top 34 lose sleep over. In the weeks leading up to the Billabong Pro, every blob on the swell radar could be the storm bringing “Code Red” swell to Tahiti. We know that if that happens again, the ASP will be running heats, and the Tour guys will be in the lineup rather than watching from the channel. My Fantasy Surfer team for the Billabong Pro is a collection of guys who I know are ready to battle in Tahiti.

Michel Bourez
Market Price: $7,500,000
Michel’s got momentum. He sent Slater home early from the U.S. Open in conditions that looked more like Cocoa Beach mush than Tahitian barrels, which is where he shines brightest. The Spartan can easily take the top spot during the Billabong Pro at Teahupoo, a location he already holds the top spot at day-to-day.

Gabriel Medina
Market Price: $7,500,000
What happened to our Brazilian boy wonder? I have my assumptions, though they aren’t anything revolutionary on the subject; a sophomore slump, some nagging injuries, the constant entourage, thinking too far ahead, being ridiculously young, etc. Whatever it is, we all know Medina can win. It’s just a matter of time before he remembers he can win as well.

Damien Hobgood
Market Price: $4,750,000
So you think you are good? But are you Hob-good? Year after year, the heat statistics for winning percentages in the South Pacific for these two hobbits raised in the estuaries of the Indian River Lagoon system prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that tricks are for kids and real men go deep. It’s going to be a long time before any kid coming through the ranks has any sort of advantage on these two in heavy surf. Wouldn’t be the least surprised to see one of the twins winning here. Damien costs half as much on Fantasy Surfer, so I went with him.

Ace Buchan
Market Price: $6,500,000
Proven, consistent, intelligent, friendly, and fiery. Yes, fiery. Ace makes things happen, bending and shaping heats, waves, and opponents to meet his will. Ace is rarely wrong, and lets the judges know it when he knows they’ve missed the mark. He’s had a solid year so far, and I expect him to peak in Teahupoo as a goofyfoot. Tahiti may just be the place where Ace finds first place. Pardon the rhyme.

Seabass
Market Price: $5,750,000
Watching Seabass surf heats is an exercise in patience. As his momentum seems to flop from high to low from one minute to the next, his talent level is on par with anyone on Tour. Given enough opportunity, Seabass’ surfing will be brilliance that only a few can hold a candle to. His confidence is what he needs to bring to Teahupoo, it’s the key to many victories coming his way.

Jordy Smith
Market Price: $9,000,000
Past performances begone, if Jordy still intends to take a 2013 World Title back to South Africa he’ll need a solid result here at Teahupoo. I believe Jordy may slide in under the radar for this event, and then methodically crush people en route to making a bold statement about his plans for the rest of the year.

John John Florence
Market Price: $8,500,000
If you don’t ride two of the best waves of your life in your heat against John John, there’s a very little chance you’ll beat him at Teahupoo. Looking at his average heat scores (particularly when you omit heats held in poor conditions) it becomes clear that only rides worth eight points or more will factor into avoiding a combo situation versus JJF.

Owen Wright (Editor’s Note: Owen Wright withdrew this morning.)
Market Price: $3,250,000
$3.25 Million for arguably the best young surfer from Australia is a bargain too good to pass up. Whether his back and mind have returned to the land of lofty expectations we all held for this gentle giant is yet to be seen. What is known, however, is we all wish him a quick return to top form and the top of the ratings. A win in Tahiti would be a comeback scenario that can’t be overlooked.

ALTERNATE:

Alain Riou
Market Price: $1,500,000
At Teahupoo, Alain is able to be in the spot he needs to be at the time he needs to be there. He’s familiar with the wave, and that’s why he’s my underdog favorite to win against many of the high-profile competitors he’ll face in this year’s event.

Pick your team now at FantasySurfer.com.