Blame it on the chaos of the holidays and the change to the One World Rankings--which sent several WT competitors to Brazil only days before the Quik Pro at Snapper to chase very important points for both the mid-year cut and end of season standings--but this year's off-season flew by. Barely a week away, the world's best surfers will be competing in front of a huge crowd on the beach at Snapper, and an unbelievable number of webcast viewers around the world.
It's usually easy to tell which surfers spent the break between the Pipe Masters and Snapper training for a grueling year ahead and which surfers used that time to knock back a few hundred cold ones with his friends and family, as their performances and results often speak volumes.
Snapper is as high-performance as a wave comes, and if you aren't prepared physically and mentally to be at your very best, you'll be left in the dust by those who are. Historically, local Gold Coast WT competitors have cleaned up at Snapper, and now with more and more moving there every year, it is only going to get more difficult for rookies and foreigners to get a good result under their belt at the first event of the WT year.
My Fantasy Surfer Team for the Quik Pro:
Parko and Mick are easy picks to perform well and potentially add another win at their homebreak. Both surfers were no-brainers when choosing my Fantasy Surfer team. These two good friends and sparring mates continue to push each other to be at the top of their game, and on top of the world.
Taj Burrow has the ability at Snapper to do anything fellow competitors can do, only better. More than any other competitor on Tour, I hope he finds the ability to put it all together--as he is very capable of doing--and not only win Snapper, but the 2011 World Title as well.
Jordy Smith will come into Snapper fitter and more prepared mentally than ever before. If the waves cooperate and he is able to unleash his full potential on the innocent walls of Snapper, only a few surfers even stand a chance of putting him down. For 2011, the World Title is his to lose before the season even begins.
Josh Kerr is a much different surfer and the contest world is a much different place than the last time he was on the World Tour. All this change should bode well for him, and starting the year at the wave he grew up surfing can't hurt either.
Julian Wilson impressed me tremendously during the Triple Crown last year (at least the two events he was able to surf in) by systematically picking apart his waves and competitors en route to back-to-back finals. With Snapper just down the road from his Sunshine Coast home, Julian should feel very comfortable for a rookie. Now if he adds a few more explosive moves to his proven Hawaiian competitive formula, Julian will be giving the established hierarchy fits.
Alejo Muniz is another rookie who performed marvelously in Hawaii while securing his spot on the World Tour. The very determined and well-rounded Brazilian should find the waves at Snapper very much to his liking. A result here would set him up for a much easier transition into competing on the World Tour.
Dusty Payne is coming off a tumultuous rookie season that ended with one of the most amazing come-from-behind victories of all time to beat Mick Fanning and remain on the World Tour for 2011. This year, he will be much more prepared and adjusted to the performance required to win at the highest level. It was never a question of his skill in 2010, but for 2011 look for Dusty to put out a much better representation of this amazing talent.
Other Good Picks for Snapper:
Kelly Slater is still the best, will always be the greatest, and stands a good chance of winning Snapper…if his head is in the game. We've been down this road year after year: Will Kelly retire (again)? Will Kelly give his all competing for the World Title (again)? Will Kelly even show up on time for his first heat (again)? Will Kelly continue to amaze us with his longevity, brilliant performances, and untouchable competitiveness? YES! The main reason Kelly isn't on my FS team is he was $500,000 too costly for by budget.
Dane Reynolds still hasn't confirmed that he will be competing at Snapper, or else he would be a definite choice for any FS team at any right pointbreak.
*Ed’s Note: Dane has officially withdrawn from the event.
Bobby Martinez was remarkable last year at Snapper. The rest of the season, not so. But to get last year's third-place finisher for only $4 million--that's a great buy.
Pat Gudauskas can be downright explosive. At only $3.5 million, that explosiveness can mean trouble for anyone he surfs against and a great value for your FS team.
Michel Bourez, Adam Melling, and Taylor Knox are all powerful regular-footers that can drown their opponents with the sheer volumes of water they displace. In an era when many competitors are too busy trying to get tricky with the lip, these three can make all those tricks look downright childish with their commitment to the rail.
Owen Wright is goofyfooter, thus stands a very difficult road ahead of him if he is to place well at Snapper and ultimately compete for a World Title. He is the first goofyfooter in a long time that actually has a shot at making both things happen.
Hope you enjoy the show in 2011. It's setting up to be a great one!