There are very few locations on this bright, blue planet that are as appealing to a surfer as Fiji. Plain and simple, Tavarua is a paradise. But one quick glance toward the reef on your first boat ride out to Cloudbreak and you’ll instantly recognize that paradise also comes with a sharp set of teeth. Cloudbreak is one of the few venues on Tour where both turns and tubes play a crucial role in winning heats. Given the nature of the wave, with the exception of a few supremely talented regularfoots, the goofies have always had an advantage here and you’d be wise to include more than a few of them on your squad.
Market Price: $10,500,000
In his early days, Medina was pigeonholed as an aerial connoisseur — someone adept above the lip, but perhaps lacking prowess in the tube. Today, after multiple stellar showings at waves like Fiji, Pipe, and Teahupoo, Medina’s silenced his critics and has shown that he’s well-versed in throaty conditions as well. In the coming days, I expect his explosiveness and his ability to wield massive turns and deep tubes to overwhelm his competition en route to a podium finish.
Market Price: $9,750,000
Italo doesn’t flinch. Big lips, big tubes, heavy competition: None of that matters to Italo when the heat horn blows. I think Italo is one of the few competitors with the skill level to rival Medina, and I look forward to him putting more than a few of his World Tour counterparts on the ropes.
Market Price: $4,750,000
Slater has the uncanny ability to improvise on a moment’s notice, bending and weaving to meld his frame through any lineup. It’s this trait, his aptitude for adaptability, that makes him great. However, Slater also has a tendency to surf down to his competition rather than up to his level. If Kelly can find the rhythm, much like he’s shown in his freesurfs, it’s lights-out for everyone else.
John John Florence
Market Price: $7,500,000
JJF smashed the competition in Brazil, and unless he falters at Cloudbreak, I don’t expect there to be many who can stand toe to toe with him at this event. Right now, he’s dialed in, focused, and ready to win.
Market Price: $6,750,000
Jordy displaces water like nobody else on Tour and always surfs to impress. If he can make smart decisions and pick the best waves in his heats, he should be able to cut his way through the lineup. Taking a page out of Andy Irons’ playbook and summoning up some primal instinct wouldn’t hurt, either.
Market Price: $5,250,000
Strong from his head to his feet, Dantas has shown that he’s always a formidable draw. He rarely falls and seems to be physically bonded to his deck, a trait that will undoubtedly serve him well when negotiating and connecting sections at Cloudbreak. This event offers Dantas his best chance of a victory on Tour.
Market Price: $4,750,000
Josh is the type of surfer that can pull a 10-point ride out of thin air. Whether it’s a heaving point break, a sketchy slab, or a punchy beachbreak, he’s always within reach of a perfect score. With plenty of experience here, Josh should be considered a top contender.
Market Price: $3,250,000
This explosive young goofyfoot is poised to fill the void created by an injured Owen Wright. The South Pacific is an ideal location for Ryan to show that he’s talented not just above the lip, but also below.