Shea’s Fiji Roster

Shea Lopez gives his Fantasy Surfer picks for the Volcom Fiji Pro

Slater proved a cut above everyone else in Fiji last year. Don't be surprised to see more of the same in 2013. Photo: Joli

For a detailed analysis of the upcoming event, Ross Williams wrote an excellent preview and assembled a great Fantasy Surfer team, which you can reference here. As we get closer to the event and get a clearer picture on the surf forecast, I thought I would add some last minute observations to help you choose your own Fantasy Surfer team.

The forecast for the waiting period shows a few decent swells that should see Cloudbreak producing excellent surf for multiple rounds. Wave heights, sadly, are not forecasted to be even remotely as large as last year. However, it should be ideally sized to provide a mix of tube riding, power surfing, and, if calm winds present themselves, the opportunity for some massive air extensions over the fast, shallow sections.

Cloudbreak is a massive playing field by World Tour standards, with no distinct take off or lineup spots. The competitors who are able to clearly see the different types of waves that peel down the reef through changes in tide and swell will have a tremendous advantage. Thus the Hobgoods and Slater are obvious picks, and unless you are looking to gain some major ground on other Fantasy Surfer players with a gamble or three, it would be wise to not bet against them and go with their proven results in Fiji. If you do decide to bail on Slater, Parko is not to be overlooked here. After a terrible showing in Rio, Parko will be searching for redemption and is always one of the best guys in the water at Cloudbreak, whether competing or freesurfing.

Looking at value picks, there are some good alternatives that are easier on the wallet. Miguel Pupo’s casual pace and poise allow him the potential to find success this week. Wilko also has a few years experience now, and when you look at some of his highlights over the years, you’ll realize he’s well worth the 3.75 million.

Remember that the Keramas event is right after Fiji, with Teahupoo hot on its heels, so Fantasy Surfer values are likely to jump all over the place. The point being that the team you can put together now may not be possible after Fiji.

Below is my Fantasy Surfer team for Fiji:

Kelly Slater:
For the last two years Rio has wreaked havoc on Kelly’s plans. This all stems from a condition he suffers from where he must be at the best locale on the planet for surf at any given time while still being committed to furthering his legacy within the ASP. While the rest of the contenders used Rio as an opportunity to steal the spotlight, Fiji is Slater’s opportunity to reclaim it.

Jordy Smith:
Where there was once only Jordy and Dane, we now have Jordy and a slew of up-and-comers all pushing the veterans to their breaking points, challenging their stranglehold on the top spots. Jordy’s window of opportunity has arrived if he is to sneak in a world title before the emerging crop becomes better versed in the intricacies of the World Tour. Expect lines reminiscent of A.I. and a lot of power from this South African when he hits the water next week.

John John Florence:
There’s still nothing I can see preventing JJF from winning…everything.

Gabriel Medina:
Medina had an impressive comeback in Rio as he went balls to the wall, launching himself up and away with every opportunity the dumping angle strainers offered. Heading into Fiji, Gabriel is likely to make the semis without much effort, a win there not out of the question.

Sebastian Zietz:
He does what he knows best and does it to the best of his ability. I’m pretty sure the Seabass is in his natural element now and primed for a great summer feeding frenzy in the South Pacific.

Matt Wilkinson:
The man, Matt, is often mistaken for the persona he generates out of the water as Wilko. In reality, what he does in the water is so much more shocking than anything I’ve seen on land. Matt could shave his head, wear regular black wetsuits, and take down competitors like the freak that he is. Matt can become a large and intimidating force on Tour very soon if he is able to channel his talents.

Damien Hobgood:
It’s Fiji and Tahiti time and Damien is only 4.25 million. Because of this bargain price, everyone on Fantasy Surfer should have Damien on their team.

Mitch Coleborn:
He topped Slater in the first round last year, and he won the last Prime event in Brazil. I smell some upsets coming.

The Volcom Fiji Pro starts on Sunday, June 2. Pick your Fantasy Surfer team here.