When it comes to picking the winning Fantasy Surfer team, there are few little odd facts that may make a difference. The following are some insights that could take you to Number One:
Ain't Nothin' Goofy About It
When it comes to winning contests, the regularfooters have it. In a testament to how far backside tube-riding has come, even at the heavy Pacific left-handers like Cloudbreak, Teahupoo and Pipe, they won all but one contest in 2005. The only goofyfooters on tour to make a final were C.J. and Damien Hobgood, and Damien was the only right-footer to win an event.
The Story of Cain and Abel: A Brother vs. Brother Breakdown
Andy dominates Bruce, posting a 6-0 record against his younger brother. And in big-brother fashion, Andy's won by an average of more than five points. But beware: motivated by two losses to Andy at the '05 Pipe Masters (including the final), and the confidence garnered from cracking into the Top 10, if Bruce can put it together in '06 the younger Irons could make stats irrelevant.
The Hobgoods never squared off face-to-face in 2005, but as sure as the grins on their chins look alike, their winning percentages are almost exactly the same. Damien, ranked 4th going into 2006, has the edge by an inch, winning 67% of his heats (24-12), while C.J., 10th, is right in there advancing 65% of the time (22-12). Damien also won one event and placed 2nd in two others, while C.J. only stepped into 2nd only once, and placed 5th and lower after that.
Cory and Shea Lopez are at different points in their careers. By virtue of not requalifying this year Shea's retired from the Tour, which is probably fine with him as he and his wife Dawn just welcomed their first child into the world. Cory on the other hand is surfing sharper than ever. Finishing at a very respectable 11th in 2005, he made three quarters, one semifinal, and advanced through 57% of the heats he surfed.
The Young Grasshopper Club:
Rookies That Will Make Difference
Adriano de Souza: Absolutely dominated the WQS last year, winning by a record number of points. He's captured the world's attention ever since his 2003 victory at the Billabong World Juniors. Some say he'll be the first Brazilian world champ. Is he that good? He beat Bruce Irons and Bede Durbidge in Brazil and came up less than a point short in his Round Three heat against Damien Hobgood.
Bobby Martinez: Another new Californian on Tour. He joins Timmy Reyes and Chris Ward. Got 2nd on the WQS last year without a sponsor; has the grit and determination to go far.
Adrian Buchan: The Ace. Part of the next wave of Aussie talent. He may take a year or two to develop, but his innovative, downright freakish ability in the water will definitely shake things up a couple times this year.
Shaun Cansdell: Much awaited WCT debut. Cansdell is maybe the most groomed competitor out of the rookie class, brandishing an impressive Junior and WQS record before he graduated this year to the big leagues.
Roy Powers: After just missing out on the WCT last year, Powers now joins Fred Patacchia and the Irons brothers as part of the talented young Hawaiian contingent that is making a statement right now.
Pancho Sullivan: At 33, the oldest World Tour rookie in history, but what he gives up in the youth department Sullivan most certainly makes up for in the power department. Extremely successful competitor in Hawaii, which should translate well at places like Fiji and Tahiti—but don't count him out at right points either. With Luke Egan retiring there's a new lead-foot on Tour.
Five More Secrets To Fantasy Surfer Success:
1. Andy Irons is as sure of a sure thing as there is. He's won everywhere on tour, he's more focused on the tour than ever before, he's going to be your workhorse this year.
2. Know your Brazilians—and don't count them out at Teahupoo either. There are eight Brazilians on tour next year. With young blood led by freshman sensation Adriano de Souza, and backed up by veteran experience like 15th-ranked Victor Ribas and 19th-ranked Paulo Moura (who by the way had a quarterfinal finish in Tahiti last year), the Brazilians could, and will, make an impact.
3. Bank on wildcards and trialists at Pipeline. Bruce Irons, Jamie O'Brien and Kalani Chapman have all experienced success via either the trials or a wildcard berth. On the flip side, as alluring as inexpensive talents like Dane Reynolds or Manoa Drollet can be, other than the Pipe Masters, not one wildcard made it out of Round 3 the entire 2005 season.
4. Look for a dark horse and ride him into the ground. Phil MacDonald might come to mind first, moving from 17th in 2004 to 5th in 2005. But Trent Munro's jump might be the most dramatic, leaping from 30th in '04 to 6th in '05.
5. Rookies can give you an unexpected lift. Rookie of the Year Fred Patacchia is the most obvious example. And for those that bet on Chris Ward to come strong out of the gates last year, they were rewarded with his 2nd Place result at Snapper Rocks. The downside: rookie performances, even with the brightest talents, can be a bit schizophrenic at times.