Hurley Pro Picks

Shea Lopez on who to put on your Fantasy Surfer team for Lowers

Kolohe Andino is bringing more momentum into this event than ever before, and that combined with some home-field advantage could be a dangerous package. Photo: Ellis

Kolohe Andino is bringing more momentum into this event than ever before, and that combined with some home-field advantage could be a dangerous package at the Hurley Pro. Photo: Ellis

Lowers allows surfers to go their biggest in a wide range of conditions. With yet another swell gracing Southern California now, everyone should have had plenty of sessions to readjust to more rippable waves after the heavy tubes of Teahupoo. Looking at the waiting period, forecast charts point to strong swell at the finish of the Hurley Pro, and on bigger days at Lowers, traditional power surfing has proven a winning recipe for success. Taylor Knox, Kelly Slater, Shane Beschen, Luke Egan, Andy Irons, and Joel Parkinson have all dominated here thanks to their ability to displace large volumes of water while maintaining speed and flow. I’d expect the current talent in the Top 34 to surf in similar fashion, only with more above-the-lip variation mixed in when big sections loom.

When picking my Fantasy Surfer team for Lowers, I looked for surfers capable of reveling in both the crisp morning offshores, which offer limited opportunity to get above the lip, as well as the afternoon onshores, where surfers traditionally set their aim sky-high.

Kolohe Andino
Market Price: $7,000,000
Kolohe has excelled recently in waves where many least expected him to. If he continues performing at such a high level, there will be continued success along with a well-deserved rise in the rankings. A Lowers win is a real possibility for a maturing Andino this year.

Owen Wright
Market Price: $5,750,000
You know those cheesy action movies where the hero survives endless punishment and somehow emerges unscathed? Owen Wright is fresh off a true action-hero performance at Teahupoo, and now should be playing with the soft and forgiving waves at Lowers. Don’t be surprised to see Wright perform like he did here in 2011 when he made the final against Kelly Slater.

Carlos Munoz
Market Price: $1,500,000
Since Carlos was a young boy growing up on the beach in Costa Rica, I would tell friends about a kid living with toucans, surfing with crocodiles, and riding waves with incredible raw talent. Lowers presents a golden opportunity for Carlos to gain exposure and experience competing with the Top 34. Soon enough he’ll be fighting it out among a new generation of surfers for a spot of his own on the World Tour.

Taj Burrow
Market Price: $10,250,000
Taj leaves most of his fellow competitors looking like they are surfing in slow motion, and that’s just one of the advantages he will have at Lowers as he looks to duplicate his past winning performances.

John Florence
Market Price: $7,500,000
Always an exciting surfer to watch in competition, John relies on his raw talent to separate himself from the pack. This results in flashes of brilliance, but he often lacks the strategic ability to manage heats that many Brazilian and Australian surfers take pride in. Because of this, John will continue losing at the hands of surfers with less talent but more competitive savvy. That said, a Florence vs. Medina heat in pumping Lowers would be one of the most exciting heats of the year.

Gabriel Medina
Market Price: $10,500,000
Unless someone else goes on an incredible winning streak, we will likely see Gabriel coast into his first world title this year. With a string of consistent performances showcasing his freakish ability honed to the competitive format, Gabriel’s execution has been flawless. Gabriel is the first since Kelly to command heats from such a young age. Lowers is Gabriel’s ideal wave, and it will be all too easy for him to score a 9 and above on any wave. Competitors will be forced to surf far beyond their comfort zone to have any chance of winning against him.

Filipe Toledo
Market Price: $4,000,000
I’m a little hesitant to pick Filipe due to the likelihood of overhead waves in the forecast, which makes him a bit of a gamble. But I can’t ignore the possibility of him going higher and farther than anyone I’ve seen at Lowers.

Jordy Smith
Market Price: $8,000,000
More than anyone else on the World Tour, Jordy has a rare combination of astonishing power, air repertoire, and a strong familiarity with the wave at Lowers. A win here has been long overdue for Jordy.

Pick your Fantasy Surfer team now.

Note: Shea Lopez’ picks are based upon what he purchased surfers for earlier in the season, many of whom have increased in market value since. That’ll explain why it adds up to more than a cool $50 million.