New York Preview

Shea Lopez on who to put on your Fantasy Surfer team

If tropical storm Katia lives up to her hype, New York could look something like this for the Quik Pro. Photo: Lusk

In an unexpected turn of events, the contest site for New York was paid a visit from Hurricane Irene. It resulted in city officials panicking under the sheer volume of areas needing attention, along with numerous uncertainties that still exist. Everything was cancelled, production crews were told to go home, the surfers were notified of the situation and told there was only a glimmer of hope as they attempted to convince the City of Long Beach to allow only the surfing part of the festival.

Things weren't looking good.

It seems someone on the inside had enough understanding of the situation to realize a 36-man contest would be a breeze to pull off under the circumstances. This is the first time I've seen surfers and government work things out on the East Coast. Just last Saturday, 50 local surfers and I spent all day being told to stay 300 feet away from the pier behind my house so one fisherman from Ohio could attempt to fish for frozen shrimp in a raging ocean.

The shittiest thing about the near cancellation is that the charts are looking as good as I've seen in a very long time for NY to receive an excellent extended swell event. If this dream scenario comes true, it would be equivalent to winning the lottery--that's how many factors have to come together to produce world-class surf in New York. After the perfect conditions in Tahiti only a few days ago, somebody either made a deal with the devil, or God decided to throw us a bone for having faith in an event at a location that sees no form of consistent swell and relies solely on seasonal tropical systems to produce those few epic days.

I assembled a team of surfers for my Fantasy Surfer team that I think will find NY's culture and surf to their liking. They are as follows:

Joel Parkinson
If football (American) is a game of inches, then surfing is a sport of moments. When the heavily favored Parko loss to Simpo in Round 2 during Tahiti, he had the wave, made the drop, and was just a moment away from a 10. That moment never came, as happens so many times at Teahupoo--the wave finds a way to eat you up. Now Parko finds himself in familiar territory again as we approach the halfway point--watching himself slip down the ratings. If he stands any chance of putting a halt to the tremendous momentum Kelly has built, he not only needs to win NY, but he needs to beat Kelly convincingly during the event. AI was the only guy to stick it right to Kelly. Less Free as a Dog and more Raw Irons is his only hope for a World Title.

Josh Kerr
As witnessed during Tahiti, Kerr can ride the tube like he was born in there, and we all know that even Taj can't match his air game. Presently at his career best of 7th place on Tour, Kerr still has the potential to rise further in the ratings when you compare his surfing to his competitors. NY's bowls to ramps suit him terrifically.

Balaram Stack
This is by no means a sympathy pick for the young New Yorker. Stack is a world-class tuberider and aerialist, and he will need both facets of his game if he plans on making even one heat. If conditions cooperate, we will be seeing a lot of this skinny goofyfooter, as he flies from jetty to jetty deep in the tube.

CJ Hobgood
It is the bottom of the 9th, with two outs and a full count for CJ needing a solo homer for the win to stay alive in the playoffs. If you know baseball that all makes sense. If you don't, CJ is about to drop like a rock to near 40 on the One World Rankings come September 3 when 8,000 points from last year's 2nd place finish in Tahiti disappear. If he can't make the quarters at minimum, CJ will most likely be off the WT for an extended period of time, given the lack of Prime events during the second half of the year. Not to worry though, that shouldn't happen, as CJ should feel right at home in NY's reeling lefts.

Julian Wilson
Nobody looks as good under the bright lights as Julian does. With an unprecedented amount of attention and money focused on this event, Julian will be looking to put his best foot forward as he continues his meteoric rise toward international stardom. The win here is a very important piece to that puzzle. Did I mention he can do anything he wants on a surfboard in any conditions? Watch and you shall see.

Taj Burrow
It was all going so smoothly. Every mag in the world proclaimed him the in-form surfer and most likely to win the World Title in 2011--much the same as so many previous years. And just like years prior, Taj now finds himself a pawn in Kelly's game of complete domination. Whether it be WT or Prime events, Kelly now leads both ratings. Taj needs to go on one of his winning sprees--the kind that usually finishes off one year and continues into the beginning of next--but this time have it run through the heart of the season. Taj may have brought a different, more-focused approach over the last few years, but he still keeps butting heads against top-tier surfers and coming up short. The streamlined focus of his late-career push may be too little too late for Taj to come out on top. Now I've been wrong before, and I will be wrong again. Hopefully in the case of Taj, I'm out to lunch, because his surfing and personality are off the charts.

Owen Wright
Remember the big Russian Ivan Drago in Rocky IV? That's how intimidating Owen is as a surfer. Wipe that shit-eating grin off his face and he becomes equally intimidating as a competitor. Settling into the WT format, and what it takes to win at that level, Owen appears to me as the greatest challenger to Kelly's 11th title while the extent of Jordy's injury is still to be determined. With the potential for him to get scores on his frontside at all the remaining WT events, this is a much better scenario for young Owen to dominate.

Kelly Slater
If I (or anyone) blow any more smoke up his ass, Kelly is likely to fly away. Kelly, for the first time in his career, looks to be completely enjoying himself--relaxed, and as comfortable in his own skin as humanly possible. It is this mindset that sees him reaching peaks in his performance that weren't possible in the past. Another factor behind him enjoying everything so much is he wants to soak it all up, cherishing these final moments of life on the WT as he goes for one more spin. He's pulled the plug on the show a couple times before, this time with it growing bigger and better than ever. We better watch every last moment of his 11th world-title performances.

Far Too Early Swell Report For NY:

Sept. 6: 6-foot at 15 seconds, north winds 10-20 mph

Sept. 7: 8-foot at 15 seconds, north east winds 15-30 mph

Sept. 8: Still getting bigger…