THE USUAL SUSPECTS:
SLATER. ANDY. FANNING. PARKO.
SLATER: The pressure is on. Slater really needs to win the Teahupoo event. With Mick, Taj, and Andy (adjusted standings) all ahead of him, it is time. Plus he is due. Maybe he needs a little bit of that zen-esque "letting go" psychology to roll over him. If Slater doesn't make the semis, his 2007 season, and his ninth world title hopes—although not dashed—are certainly deflated. Now, granted, I'm assuming that Andy will do well in Tahiti; history says as much, so Kelly will have to keep pace. Andy has a 33rd and a second-place finish. The 33rd is a throw away. Slater has a third and a fifth. If the fifth is throw away, guess what? Andy is in the lead. For Slater, this is the right time to strike. He can make up some major ground. Look for Slater to rise up here. He needs it, and when he needs something big, he more often than not finds it.
“This year I feel a lot better about the place (Teahupoo) and hope all the bad results I’ve had there end this year.” – Mick Fanning
ANDY: A smart pick to be sure. Possibly robbed on his final wave score at the horn against Dean Morrison last year (losing be .17), with the proper channeling, this could be a great motivational tool for Irons. AI’s results the over the last five seasons are both worthy and consistent: First, ninth, third, ninth, and ninth. Those ninth-place finishes may scare off a few Fantasy owners, but they shouldn’t. Andy puts up a good fight. I already mentioned last season's close heat. The year before, 2005, was also marked by a quarterfinal loss to Dingo and a larger point spread, but his round three score was 19.00. In 2004 Andy was a semifinalist and missed the final heat by only 1.33 points. Andy and Slater will be anchoring my team.
FANNING: Quite frankly, Mick Fanning doesn't have what it takes to win here, at least that's what the statistics tell us. Have you ever even seen a memorable photo of Mick Fanning at Teahupoo? Ok, you probably have. How about a semifinal finish? Nope. In fact, Fanning has a career average finish of 19th place at the treacherous dredging trench. A fact the Coolangatta regularfoot acknowledges, most recently in a Sydney Morning Herald article in which Fanning had this to say, “I have never really done well in Tahiti. I feel comfortable there but maybe I have never backed myself at the location. This year I feel a lot better about the place and hope all the bad results I’ve had there end this year.” To his credit, Fanning flew to Tahiti earlier in the month to practice for the Billabong Pro. I’m still leaving him off my team.
PARKO: He's sort of a mystery. Is he into it? I don’t know, but I'm going to steer clear. His career average finish of 14.5 doesn’t bode well. You want your Fantasy team anchors to give you more than a 17th or a ninth. As anchors, my advice is to go with Slater and Andy.
Last year's finalists Bobby Martinez and Fred Patacchia should make a bunch of Fantasy Surfer squads. Personally, Freddy P. will find his way onto my team. I'd throw Bobby on there too, except for cost restrictions. And if I had to pick right now—today, I'll take Fred, as I think Bobby may be having a bit of a sophomore slump.
Mick Campbell: Look out for this guy. I took him off for Bells but he's going right back on for Teahupoo and the next event in Chile as well. I'd be scared if this guy was in my heat. He might punch me. They don’t call him the "Ginger Ninja" for nothing. Ask Andy.
The Hobgoods have the statistical goods. C.J. has nailed down a fifth, ninth, first, fifth, and ninth at Chopes. Brother Damo has dropped fifth, ninth, fifth, second, and ninth-place finishes onto his career resume. I’d lean toward Damien, as he seems to possess the family mojo as of late.
I'm going to throw you a curve ball. Ready for this? Bernardo Miranda (AKA Pigmeau). I've known Bernardo for a little bit. I've seen his act at Pipeline, up close, for a number of years—the guy charges and he is a goofyfoot. If he is going to do well in an event, this is the one.
Aerials aren't on the agenda for Teahupoo. Nevertheless, watch out for young Josh Kerr in this event. He may surprise you and he has found his way onto my team for Teahupoo along with rookie of the year front-runner Ben Dunn.
Taj Burrow could be a smart pick and does have some semifinal showings here, so watch out for him if it isn't mack-daddy large. He’s on a bit of a roll with the Bells win and a Boost Mobile Super Show victory the following weekend under his belt.
Of interesting note, a little nationalism could help out here as well. The boys draped in red, white and blue have won seven out of eight WCT events held at Teahupoo. Last year it was seasoned rookie Bobby Martinez who took the honors home to America. Other American winners include Slater (three times), C.J. Hobgood, Andy Irons, and Cory Lopez. Occy won the inaugural event in 1999. No Australian has won in Tahiti or earned the world title since. Let’s hope the North Americans keep it that way.
Here's my team (pre-event draw):
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