Pipeline Masters Preview

Shea Lopez on who to pick for your Fantasy Surfer team

Wildcard surfer Jamie O'Brien will be looking to derail any World Tour competitor in his path once the Pipeline Masters gets underway. Photo: Maassen

The forecast looks like perfect Pipeline will roar to life for three days like we have not witnessed since 2000, when Rob Machado defeated Mick Lowe in an event blessed with epic 8- to 12-foot conditions every day. Picking my team was easy as pie: I simply made a list of who is not only the best at surfing big Pipe, but also has the ability to compete within the ASP format presently.

Of special note: Before you make your own team, many wildcards have yet to be decided. These wildcards have the potential to play a major role in the way this event unfolds. Check back in to Fantasy Surfer for up-to-the-minute information as it comes in.

My FS team, as of today, will be:

Kelly Slater: He’s the best tuberider in the world. Just ask J.O.B. if you have any questions.

Jamie O’Brien: He takes off switch on waves at Backdoor that most will not attempt to ride regular, and gets spit out!

John John Florence: He’s Gumby in the tube with cat-like reflexes and the knowledge from growing up watching the above two surfers toy with Pipeline like it was their personal playground.

Hobgood Twins: If it is big hairy lefts, these good ’ol boys will be putting on the performance of their careers. They have only gotten better and more comfortable with the lineup year after year since their first visit at the age of 15.

Freddy P: A real Top 10 surfer without a question—so what if he can’t do a twirly bird, air revo. This very-soon-to-be father, and competitor on the bubble of WT requalification is licking his chops at the opportunity to shine on his terms in his backyard.

Evan Valiere: If you haven’t heard of him before, then you are missing the big picture of what surfing really is. Evan is a surfer that embodies all that is great about surfing—and he’s no slouch at Pipe. He’s the darkhorse threat to win it all.

Michel Bourez: Spartan is smiling and laughing right now in anticipation of what awaits the world, and his fellow WT competitors on December 8.

Pipeline is the one wave in the world that is as beautiful as it is frightening, dangerous, unpredictable, and challenging—and it’s all so close to the beach that spectators can read a person’s emotions through their facial expressions while in the lineup. Teahupoo was so perfect that anyone with the desire to paddle in and get to their feet was having success, but Pipeline requires much, much more in order to ride the place to perfection. The North Shore is the ultimate proving grounds, and the Pipeline Masters is the Crown Jewel of The Vans Triple Crown for good reason.

Enjoy the show and pray for everyone in the event to return to the beach safely throughout the competition.

R.I.P. Andy Irons
R.I.P. Sion Milosky
R.I.P. Malik Joyeux