Pipe Masters Preview

Shea Lopez on who to pick for your Fantasy Surfer team heading into Pipe

When it comes to Pipe and Backdoor, no one doubts the talents of John Florence. Photo: Joli
When it comes to Pipe and Backdoor, no one doubts the talents of John Florence. Photo: Joli

In a few days we’ll see the conclusion of the 2013 ASP season and a world title race at the Billabong Pipeline Masters. While Mick Fanning leads in the ratings, Kelly Slater is more than capable of snatching a third title away from him. Outside of the title race, all of the competitors are anxiously awaiting their chance to fulfill their dreams and become a Pipeline Master.

I’ve been studying weather patterns leading up to the event, and they show pulse after pulse heading toward the North Shore, likely to deliver windows of classic Backdoor Pipeline conditions, with the odd left thrown in for the goofyfooters. If you have ever seen perfect 4- to 8-foot Backdoor with a southeast wind, then you know why I am so excited at the prospect of Kelly, Mick, and the rest of the Tour being let loose in such conditions.

Mick has surely learned a thing or two from his close friend Andy Irons, who dominated Pipe and Backdoor in any conditions, earned four Pipeline Masters victories, and put Kelly on the defensive as no one had before or has since. With Mick now playing the antagonist to professional surfing’s omnipotent hero, he’d do well to channel Andy in the lineup. Don’t expect peace signs, high fives, or sweet nothings to be exchanged between these two ultimate competitors as they tear their way toward the Title. It’s going to be one heck of a show.

For my Fantasy Surfer team, I’m picking all regular footers since the lefts aren’t likely to offer the highest scoring potential. Through my own experience competing at Backdoor as a goofyfoot, I can say that regular footers have the advantage. During the 2003 event, I wrecked my ACL, PCL, and MCL attempting an ill-advised floater at Backdoor, pushing myself too hard against none other than Andy Irons in the quarters. I guess competitors will do some crazy shit in the heat of the moment with the Pipe Masters crown on the line.

Michel Bourez
Market Price: $6,500,000
The Spartan is always dominant in Hawaii no matter the location. Just give him a powerful wave to lean into and it’s going to be all good in the hood.

Julian Wilson
Market Price: $9,750,000
Julian has only made it past the quarters once this year. You know he wants to win badly at the Banzai, as he’s as hungry as ever for an event win and a future world title.

John Florence
Market Price: $8,250,000
John is expected to win here simply because he is the best. That reasoning works much better in theory than execution, as there are countless variables at play in every heat. With that said, three cheers for the best.

Jeremy Flores
Market Price: $6,000,000
Jeremy gets the job done year after year at the Pipeline Masters while improving every season. Enough said.

Sebastian Zietz
Market Price: $5,000,000
When Seabass is on the North Shore, he’s living in luxury mere feet from the water at Backdoor. Not a wave hits the reef there that he isn’t surfing or watching.

Zeke Lau
Market Price: $1,500,000
Do not get in his way. He cannot be stopped in his mission to win, which began years ago when the little menehune first started shaving his head. Love this kid.

Pat Gudauskas
Market Price: $1,500,000
Pat just might decide this year’s World Champion if he faces off with Mick or Kelly in the early rounds of the Pipeline Masters. Not only is he an extremely challenging draw at Backdoor, but Pat also needs a result if he is going to qualify for the World Tour in 2014. A hungry dog hunts best.

Kelly Slater
Market Price: $11,000,000
Both Kelly and I were born and raised in Florida, and a win for him at Pipe wouldn’t be just another World Title for Kelly. It would be a chest thumping cause for celebration for a state of wave-starved frothers, stoked to see one of our own achieve the impossible feat of a twelfth world title.

Pick your Fantasy Surfer team now for the Billabong Pipeline Masters, waiting period starting this Sunday.