FANTASY SURFER NEWS: The Search for the Right Team – Rip Curl Search WCT

Coming to the shores of Mainland Mexico, the forecast for the 2006 Rip Curl Pro Search WCT is looking extremely promising. With solid Southern Hemisphere swells expected throughout the contest's waiting period (June 20 through July 1) and a right-hand point break that supposedly rivals the Gold Coast's SuperBank, it's hardly a stretch to say that contestants are frothing.

Favorites:
Mick Fanning: Mick won the Rip Curl Pro Search WCT last year on Reunion Island, and given his propensity for right-hand points, he's got to be a clear favorite going into this event. Plus, without a win to his name this year, he may be especially hungry.

Bobby Martinez: After a win at Teahupoo, Martinez definitely has momentum on his side, not to mention a lifetime of surfing Rincon, which has groomed his backhand attack in right points to near perfection. You've also gotta figure local support for this rising star is going to be huge.

Andy Irons: Andy hasn't won an event all year long, which doesn't sit well with the three-time world champ. Nobody loves winning and hates losing more than the elder Irons. Also, he was spotted in the area earlier this year putting the point through its paces. This is one event he will excel at.

Joel Parkinson: Another one of the kids from Coolie, like partner-in-crime Mick Fanning, Parko's void of a win this year, and the racy right-hand point surf definitely suits his style. This could be the event Parko pulls it together.

Dark Horses:
Taylor Knox: It's hard to call Knox a dark horse as he's sitting in the Top 10 in the world right now, but he may be a less obvious choice than some contenders. A powerful forehand and relatively minor travel for the Oceanside, California local should aid in Knox's campaign.

Chris Ward: Betting on Wardo's never a sure thing, but he's spent some time at the break tuning up, and he claims that he's caught three of the best barrels of his life down there. While we all know how capable he is, this could be the event that he puts it all together.

Timmy Reyes: It was at the Search event last year that Reyes won his first WCT heat, and then went on to put in an impressive performance at J-Bay. Reyes showed signs of life in Tahiti. Close to home and hungry for a result, this could be the event that sees him emerge from his cocoon.

Unknown:
Kelly Slater: Are his ribs healed? Is his heart still intact? In what looks like it's going to be a common theme for the year, Slater may or may not show up in Mexico, if he does, expect good things; if he doesn't, well, your Fantasy Surfer team is screwed.

Pancho Sullivan: After coming out of the gates firing this year, the soft-spoken Hawaiian has gone relatively quiet as of late. He stumbled in the South Pacific, where everybody thought he'd shine. Can he recapture the magic at another right-hander?