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Our 2017 Quik Pro Gold Coast Predictions

The SURFER Magazine staff picks their winners for Event #1 of the season

Gentlemen, start your engines! It’s here. The 2017 WSL World Championship Tour is a go. Who’s hot? Who’s not? Who’s going to give the Top-10 a bonafide Stu Kennedy-shakeup? How’s Mick looking after his personal year? Can Owen bounce back and put it down for the Wright clan? Will Kelly Slater add another title to his GOAT list of accomplishments?

We’re always excited for the start of a new season, especially in recent years with its beautiful unpredictability. Three first-time world champs in the past three years means the title chase has never been more exciting, enticing, and entirely up for grabs. So why not make some predictions about who’s going to take the big W at each event, starting with the Quik Pro Gold Coast? Here’s what your SURFER staff had to say:

Mick Fanning:

Competitors who’ve taken time off only come back to competition for one reason: they want to win. They miss winning. They need winning. It’s what they live for. Mick took most of last year off, with a brief return to, oh, let’s see, WIN THE J-BAY EVENT. He even beat eventual world champ John Florence in the final. That’s not easy to do, you know. Take a year off except to stroll into a contest and bump off the “best surfer in the world” on their way to the title. Mick did it, and it looked like he had some pretty easy fun doing so. This year, he apparently means business. And he gets Florence and Gabe Medina in Round One, a superheat that will ignite Mick’s competitive fire to full burn. This event is Mick’s in a cakewalk. You wanna be the judge that risks underscoring a beloved Gold Coast hero on his return to competition? Yeah, me neither. –– Justin Housman, Features Editor

Filipe Toledo:

Filipe smoked Julian Wilson in the 2015 final and likely would have won again last year if not for pulling his groin in the quarterfinals. In waves under head high — especially frontside — the only way Filipe loses is if he beats himself. Small-ish Snapper is built for Filipe’s surfing. The way he can link turns, coast over flat sections, and throw an air reverse on any part of the wave makes him really dangerous. Plus, the forecast is marginal and nobody has looked better in the warm-up clips via Instagram thus far. — Zander Morton, Field Editor

Mick Fanning:

Gosh, part of me wants to vote Wilko ’cause you know he'll do 500 backside vertical snaps to the beach. My passion pick wants Julian Wilson to go Wayward out there with some stale 3s. But I'm sticking with Mick Fanning. The judges love speed, and Mick will provide plenty of that. Can you see him? Floater, slash, roundhouse, floater, slash, roundhouse. And that's not a jab. It will be beautiful. It will be classic Mick. –– Pete Taras, Digital Director

John John Florence:

I'm going with the obvious choice on this one: John Florence for the win at Snapper. He's never placed higher than a quarterfinal finish on the Gold Coast, but I think he's too much on a roll to be stopped now. He's good at right points (although what conditions does he not excel in?), and can lay down some gravity-defying airs if the waves get small and section-y. And with the pressure of chasing that first World Title dusted of his shoulders, he must feel more confident in a jersey than ever before. Last year, he discovered how to marry his freakish talent with smart heat strategies. He figured out the game, and I don't see his talents nor his newfound competitive smarts waning anytime soon. Plus, with Ross Williams joining his corner as a full-time coach, John will be "deadly"…as his new coach would say. –– Ashtyn Douglas, Managing Editor

Filipe Toledo:

Following a year of steadily grinding on Tour, quietly preparing for fatherhood, and continuing to send rotators into oblivion for the sake of a web edit, Filipe Toledo’s been foaming at the mouth for the chance to kick a title-winning season into gear. He’s got a little girl to put food on the table for now, and she’s counting on him to be a superhero. So when he’s not changing diapers or feeding the young one or hanging with bae, he’ll be revved up to get back into the lineup to do something ridiculous, and throw a nonchalant claim when he lands. We’ve all seen what Toledo can do with a wave bigger than 1 inch and less than 5 feet. He’s rather unstoppable. “But what about those days later in the week with the swell forecast reaching up to 6- to 8- to 10-foot?” Have you never heard of dad strength? –– Garrett James, Social Media Manager

Leo Fioravanti:

Leo. –– Grant Ellis, Photo Editor

[Photo: Moran]