Our pundits have a lot to say about the 2013 World Tour prospects. Here, they put their money where their mouths are. Pick your own Fantasy Surfer team and see how you stack up against Shea Lopez and Ross Williams. Watch the pundits break down this year’s competitors here.
Shea Lopez’s Picks for the Quiksilver Pro:
There are a few things this event that may ultimately affect your Fantasy Surfer team: The rain! The rain has been coming down on the Goldy without any sign of easing. The resulting runoff and flooding has disrupted the normally groomed banks and translucent waters. The latest run of large storm surf maliciously carved out a massive black hole where Snapper once was, meaning there’s a distinct possibility that alternate venues may become necessary. Time will tell whether Snapper will see a return to form for the event. That being said, it will be difficult for any one surfer to be dialed in with the multiple types of waves we may see surfed. That bodes well for veterans and locals alike. Even the goofyfooters on Tour become more evenly matched up against the predominant and highly favored regularfoot competitors when heats are run at alternate venues. My FS team is a combination of proven talent, local experience, and a couple x-factors that may blow away their competition:
1. Kelly Slater: I’ve purposely left Slater off my FS teams in the past, not buying into the fact that a 40-year-old man can keep pace with a sport widely viewed as best suited for those in their 20s. But it’s plain to see that Kelly is still one of the most complete surfer we’ve ever seen.
2. Taj Burrow: Another year, another chance for Taj to accomplish what has eluded him thus far during his storied career. He really should already have a World Title or two by now…
3. Filipe Toledo: I expect big things from Filipe. Let me clarify, I expect big moves from Felipe. Whether or not he pulls off the big move when he needs it in World Tour competition is yet to be seen, but never count out this young Brazilian with all he has hidden up his wetsuit sleeve.
4. Jordy Smith: Mark my words, Jordy is the most complete surfer since AI. The difference between the two greats of our sport: Once Andy recognized that raw ability will only get you so far in competition, he focused his heart and soul toward observing and learning the art of winning heats. If Jordy can do that, big things will come.
5. Julian Wilson: Julian takes advantage of a very sturdy, squatty, wider-than-normal stance reminiscent of Adriano de Souza–who’s risen near the top of the ratings every year. With such a high level of talent filling the Top 34 in 2013, Julian will be pushing hard to stay right up there at the top where this ultra competitive, ultra focused young man deserves to be. Julian is my pick to win wherever the Quik Pro ultimately will be.
6. Kolohe Andino: Hardships make the man. After a tumultuous rookie year that saw Kolohe suffer crippling defeats and a debilitating injury that almost sent him back to the minor leagues, a late-season run of heat wins planted the seed that will grow into something much more complete this season.
7. Dane Reynolds: Win or lose, Dane is the crowd favorite. Fans can’t get enough of the one they whisper about in hushed tones and call the Messiah behind closed doors. “If you’re not first, you’re last” is a saying that gets thrown around a lot since Talledega Nights, but Dane’s made a powerful statement to the contrary: He’s held down the first position in the public eye and last on a rating’s sheet.
8. Adam Melling: Adam’s Hawaii performances were electrifying and befitting of a surfer that should hold down a much higher position than cellar-dweller and perennial close-call-qualifier. A good start in Oz may be all he needs to see his stock rise to that of the elite.
Ross Williams' Picks for the Quiksilver Pro:
Let me start by saying I totally sucked at Fantasy Surfer last year. Sometimes I feel like I'm almost cheating when I pick my horses, being that I am lucky enough to have been an experienced Tour surfer and I have inside scoop on who is surfing well, etc. I was shattered when I finished way down the rankings at the end of 2012. I guess I chalked it up to bad luck and the fact that in a lot of these events you really can’t predict Mother Nature and who will be on her good side. That being said, I need to redeem myself. The Gold Coast is a playground for the fast and flexible. Just like Pipe will smoke out those who don't have the tools to get pitted, Snapper smokes out those who can’t blow tail, hack, and punt. There's nowhere to hide. Here are my picks:
1. Kelly Slater: Kelly loves the Goldie, which is evident when he's surfing there. When he's happy and interested it sends alarms to his peers. This is one of the events on Tour that sparks Kelly's interest, which usually leads to him having the fire to win.
2. Mick Fanning: A no-brainer pick for Snapper. No one surfs with more flow or power on Tour. Anything less than a semifinal finish will be a shocker.
3. Taj Burrow: His record speaks for itself on the Gold Coast. He has all the tricks: power, speed, and airs. As long as he gets his share of waves, he's a favorite to win.
4. Alejo Muniz: His surfing looked sharp in the Breaka Pro, which is a good indication for a solid result at Snapper. Look for his confidence to be soaring.
5. Adam Melling: At 3.5 million, Adam is a bargain. He surfed amazing in the Breaka Pro. I'm looking for him to break into the Top 5 this year.
6. Filipe Toledo: First of all, he has a really fun name. If the contest moves to D-Bah this kid could upset a lot of top seeds. He will be doing airs like it's a cutback.
7. Nat Young: For such a young kid, Nat has a very powerful and polished attack. He will be known as the new backside king in years to come. His vertical style of surfing will rack up a lot of easy points at Snapper.
8. Dane Reynolds: A would be favorite to win if not for two unknowns: One, will he be interested? And two, he will be surfing against high seeds that know what he is capable of. At any rate, he will be drawing the most attention.
Alternate: Dusty Payne. I look for a healthy Dusty to take his rightful spot in the Top 16 this year.
Log on to FantasySurfer.com now to pick your team for a chance to win a 7-day trip to Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore.