Trestles Preview

Shea Lopez on who to pick for your Fantasy Surfer team

With a deep bag of tricks, Julian Wilson is capable of anything when competition starts at Lowers. Photo: Glaser

With a deep bag of tricks, Julian Wilson is capable of anything when competition starts at Lowers. Photo: Glaser

Lowers presents an excellent opportunity for the Top 34 to unwind. The perfectly rippable peak with its non-threatening cobblestone bottom allows for a comfortable atmosphere, and that comfort often leads to a showcase of of the most high-performance surfing of the World Tour season. I am a fan of the wave, the event, and the town that I called home years ago when I honed my own competitive skills over the same cobblestones.

This year, the World Tour has experienced a lot of decent waves, a few great waves, and a little controversy. Parko’s not-so-perfect 20-point heat at Keramas, along with a few other over-scored heats, have placed the judging under much scrutiny in 2013. From my perspective, it’s never been more difficult to establish a scale and update it as rapidly as the level of surfing progresses. With the South Pacific awakening from an extended flat spell, we will see the opening rounds of the 2013 Hurley Pro held in the kind of waves that will allow competitors to continue shifting the scales.

The impending swell opens your Fantasy Surfer team to a broad spectrum of competitors. Suddenly Freddy P., Michel Bourez, Bede Durbo, and other power surfers have an equalizer in the shape of quality waves--not to mention the recent rekindling of the judges love for burying rail. During my scramble to best appropriate my 50 million in funds on Fantasy Surfer, I somehow managed to leave Kelly Slater off my team for another event. My logic is often questioned for this decision, but allow me to explain: If I cough up 12.5 million for Kelly or Mick, I will be forced to fill out my roster with wildcards and low cost, low seed surfers. That means low quality, high variability, and poor statistical results out of my team. During a recent conversation with Kelly, we started talking about Fantasy Surfer. “I thought about putting Ace on my team for Tahiti because I looked at him as a hard draw there,” he said. I also saw Ace as a real threat in Tahiti, along with the 8 percent of Fantasy Surfer players that picked Ace and watched him beat Kelly. Kelly is always a hard draw, but I tend to look more at the rest of the field and their potential at that specific location. I’ll base my team loosely around how I feel my chances would be in a heat against them there, which isn’t really an exact science. At Teahupoo, I wouldn’t have liked my chances against Michel, Sebastian, or Damien--all on my team for the event. Yet all three where early losers, contributing to my low point total of 753 and rank of 6,633 for Tahiti. You’re only as good as our last result, and hopefully Trestles will spell redemption.

Kolohe Andino
Market Price: $4,000,000
Finding a rhythm in competition is a heck of a lot easier when you can zip-line from your bedroom window to the line-up. I know what he can do out there, San Clemente sees what he can do out there every day. I’ve got sky high expectations for this heir if he can find the same form he finds at Lowers daily.

Filipe Toledo
Market Price: $4,250,000
“Oh, shit! Did you just see that?” Not once, not twice, but three times have I found myself saying that when watching Filipe surf. I’ve also said, “I think Filipe may be missing a fin out there.” I’m anticipating more of the spectacular Filipe we all enjoy watching when he comes to Lowers. His make rate for airs is high enough to push any opponent beyond their limits and comfort zone. Never underestimate the ease at which Filipe can send any surfer packing.

Brett Simpson
Market Price: $3,500,000
If it’s not now, it may just be never. Brett must regain the confidence and swagger he had en route to two US Open victories and a Top 34 qualification. Since then, his decent results have turned sour for a surfer of his caliber. Brett is definitely a high risk pick, but one that I expect will bring a high return if Brett catches fire, considering how few are likely to choose him.

Freddy Patacchia
Market Price: $4,500,000
My memory banks are clouded with images from videos of Fred surfing heats at Lowers. In the majority of them he was blitzing the lefts with combos that left me slack-jawed--powering through the soft sections with one foot on the gas and the other on the nitrous. Even if he never took to the air, it would be a breath of fresh air to see a game plan focusing on strength rather than flair.

Julian Wilson
Market Price: $8,500,000
Putting Julian on your team is a smart move when considering his top notch preparation and burning desire to claim the No. 1 spot. Would it be wrong to think Julian is a more difficult heat draw than Kelly? I might just be more familiar with Kelly’s approach, but it seems like coming up with a strategy to beat Julian would be a more difficult task.

John Florence
Market Price: $9,000,0000
The storm generating the first swell of the waiting period is ideally positioned, limiting the amount of shadowing and offering more consistent waves. For the most talented surfers in any event, the more opportunities they are given to ride waves, the less of a fighting chance their opponent has. Catch waves John, lots of them.

Taj Burrow
Market Price: $9,750,000
I don’t buy into the theory that Taj has resigned to casually enjoying his numbered days among the Top 34, no longer up to the challenge of a world title race or even an event victory. His world title aspirations may be diminishing, but the ability of one of surfing’s all-time greats to rise to the occasion and claim an event win is still very much intact.

Jordy Smith
Market Price: $8,750,000
Formerly holed up in Southern California for extended periods of time, Jordy has become very familiar with searching and destroying at Lowers. Finding that same feeling he had while winning down in Rio is paramount to a similar performance in San Clemente. Alas, now he has a fiance and a wedding to plan for…surf now, or forever hold your peace.

Click here to get your Fantasy Surfer team ready for the Hurley Pro.