Fiji Preview

Shea Lopez on who to pick for your Fantasy Surfer team

Cloudbreak, doing what it does best. Photo: Joli

The waiting period starts this Saturday for the Volcom Fiji Pro, pick your Fantasy Surfer team here.

If you have ever been fortunate enough to visit the lovely Fijian islands of Tavarua or Namotu, then you already know what we have to look forward to. With two big southern hemi storms predicted to track perfectly through the event’s swell window, Kelly and the gang are preparing to put on a performance for the ages. This is real high-performance surfing, and everything else is just how you cope when the surf is flat. Cloudbreak and J-Bay test a surfer’s complete wave riding ability more than any other locations on tour. Sadly, J-Bay has been downgraded for 2012, but Cloudbreak has finally been resurrected—truly a worthy proving ground.

For my Fantasy Surfer team I went with proven vets and two young surfers who will be taking over the World Tour very soon. Owen Wright was high on my list as well, but I choose Slater over him as my top-dollar purchase. My first four picks are goofy-footed tube fiends and friends of mine who I know will be loving the ample swell forecasted for the event. The rest of my team is made up of two highly decorated World Champions, and the two young surfers with the best chance at a world title of their own.

The Hobgoods: Since their days visiting Tavarua with Rusty Preisendorfer, Damien and CJ have developed into two of the most comfortable, accomplished surfers to prowl the wide open playing field of Cloudbreak—and they are long overdue for a win.

Freddy P: Just put Freddy on you team. This new father is going to win either Cloudbreak, Teahupoo, and/or Pipe this year if he keeps getting into events as a replacement surfer.

Ace Buchan: When airs and tail-throws don’t factor into the equation, Buchan is holding four aces: Patience, Professionalism, confidence, and an incredible tube-riding ability. The goofies are currently licking their chops with anticipation as they head into the South Pacific leg of the World Tour.

Mick Fanning: 2011 was a year of rebuilding for Mick. This year is much different. Mick is a much better surfer now than when he won his two world titles.

Julian Wilson: Talent is one thing, but if you don’t have the heart of a champion to go along with it, then you are dead in the water. Julian is a lot scrappier than his pretty smile lets on, and he’s also one of the top three most talented surfers on tour. The other two are just below him on this list.

John Florence: To be a champion you have to set your mind to a goal, work hard, and have patience. Nobody has followed this mantra more than John. All that’s left now is for him to stick to that mantra and let destiny run its course.

Kelly Slater: As we age we must pick our battles more wisely. Kelly is banking heavily on his intimacy with Tavarua to lock in a win there. His results at this event and at Teahupoo will decide if he takes a 12th world title. Kelly is still the best all around surfer, and if you watch closely you will see the subtle genius that sets him apart from the rest.

On a side note: I miss this event more than any other on Tour. I wish I was traveling to the comp right now with Cory and Andy to compete against myself, the wave, and all the new guys on Tour—many of whom will be surfing Fiji for the very first time.