Once you’ve experienced it in person, the mesmerizing allure of Cloudbreak burns an indelible impression upon you. A kaleidoscope of colors and shapes, the waves there remind us that we are living in a world that must be seen to be believed. The waves can be so perfect that unseasoned competitors will often take on a deer-in-headlights look as they stare off into this heavenly setup. (If you haven’t guessed it by now, I enjoyed my time competing at the Fiji Pro more than any other stop on Tour.) For Kelly Slater, Owen Wright, and a few others, the options that span the vast expanse of Cloudbreak are easy to read and exploit to their liking. For others, drawing the right lines amid this pristine canvas can be more difficult than it appears.
Market Price: $9,750,000
Kelly is a magician at Cloudbreak. That said, do you ever really want to trust a magician? Slater, coming off some of the worst results of his career, likely has a few tricks up his sleeve that he’s been saving for just the right time. I think Fiji is that time.
Market Price: $10,500,000
The quicker one rises to the top, the more difficult it will be to maintain that altitude and attitude. The requirements being heaped upon this young man’s shoulders have been far too great. Adjustments will be needed if Gabriel is going to find a return to the laser focus he exhibited last year. Even Kelly Slater failed to repeat after his first world title in ’92.
Market Price: $3,000,000
Past experience tells me that C.J. lives and dies by his results at Fiji, Tahiti, and Pipe. With what’s looking to be C.J.’s final year on Tour, I’m expecting an inspired performance for the former world champion and heavy-water legend.
Market Price: $4,500,000
Strength is paramount under certain circumstances. An example: when you’ve been driving through a 10-second tube at Cloudbreak and you have to punch through the doggy door at Shish Kabobs for a 10. Freddy brings the strength of an elite athlete and the fire of a hungry Hawaiian to every impossible wave he lines up.
Market Price: $8,250,000
There are only a few surfers in the world capable of standing toe-to-toe with Owen at a big left reef pass. And even then, if you were a betting man, you’d be wise to place your bets on Owen. Time and again, Owen delivers in these types of lineups.
Market Price: $7,250,000
Always a threat no matter the conditions, I continually expect the best from Julian before events, but am mostly left unsatisfied with what was displayed. Hopefully sooner, rather than later, reality will mirror Julian’s potential.
Market Price: $4,500,000
Dantas is a terrific young surfer that is as fundamentally and technically sound as any surfer on Tour. A good result here for Dantas is simply a matter of finding a sound strategy and executing it.
Market Price: $3,250,000
Realizing the power he has packed onto his frame, Dusty has been creeping closer and closer to becoming a consistent threat to win events held in decent to excellent surf. There will be a lot more to come from Dusty over this season, and the next few, if he continues upon his current path.