Portugal Preview

Shea Lopez on who to pick for your Fantasy Surfer team

Much like the France event, heats will be decided by barrel riding ability if the swell delivers. Adam Melling, enjoying Supertubes at its best. Photo: Joli

Kelly Slater wins and wins and wins. We have always known this, and have come to expect it while watching ASP events. Very recently, however, Slater and two of his business partners seemed to have garnered another kind of win. He may have taken Lowers and France, but the bigger victory for him comes from the potential new direction of the ASP Dream Tour. It looks like the ZoSea media group may soon be responsible for finding and funneling mainstream exposure and investment into the sport via modern technology and updated business models. In this ever-shrinking modern world, it will be exciting to watch the changes in surfing.

For now, the world's best have arrived in Portugal and are waiting for a decent swell to awaken Supertubes. Feeling a bit stale, I tweaked my Fantasy Surfer team for this event. Most notably, I've dropped Kelly from my squad, as I feel that any 40-year-old human must need a rest after the kind of whirlwind winning spree he just experienced. Besides Mick, my team now is basically groms compared to Kelly. The reason for this is that sometimes it takes the naive eye of a grommet to see something adults are no longer capable of noticing. The grommet inside A.I. took him to three titles against a surfer who no one else had the confidence to go toe-to-toe with.

Here’s my Fantasy Surfer team for Portugal:

Jordy Smith:
He is the only man that can match Dane Reynolds in the water. It's a bummer that doesn’t translate in the same way to a scorecard.

Owen Wright:
He reminds me of myself when I was on Tour. He's smart enough to surf to the competitive criteria, but too shortsighted to bring his free-surfing act to heats. But Owen is an amazingly gifted surfer from a great country family who has the ability to surf whatever way he wants. So far, he's chosen to stick to the criteria.

Gabriel Medina:
He’s as gifted as any surfer to ever touch a board. What you see in his surfing is very close to his potential. After a few more trips around the globe training in the world’s best waves, we will see just what Gabriel's peak performance looks like.

John Florence:
Perfectly balanced. Enough said.

Kolohe Andino:
You never know how a surfer will recover from injury. For Kolohe it was his first chance to catch his breathe and re-evaluate how far he had come, or how far he had gotten off track. I've watched Brother surf since his first rides in the shorebreak at T-Street with Dino and Shane Beschen, and he was always driven to surf as fast, radical, and progressive as his uncle Shane--and later on like his uncle Andy. After his heats in France, it looks like he has gotten back on track and will be a force to be reckoned with in Portugal.

Dillon Perillo:
This guy is so damn good and he doesn’t even know it. Confidence in the water is key if he is to be able to perform to his potential against the best.

Miguel Pupo:
Not many surfers have grace both in and out of the water. Pupo pulls it off very nicely.

Mick Fanning:
Every pack of groms needs an elder to lead the way. Mick is a veteran who is currently surfing at his personal best, but he desperately needs a win to keep Slater honest.

Click here to pick your Fantasy Surfer team.