Kelly tipped the performance scale at last year's event, finishing just behind Medina. But with everything on his plate this year, will Slater bring the magic? Photo: Thouard

Kelly tipped the performance scale at last year’s event, finishing just behind Medina. But will Slater bring the magic this year? Photo: Thouard

At a wave like Teahupoo, it pays to be tenacious. This is no place for the timid, the sitting ducks, the uninitiated. When the horizon darkens and the channel erupts in a fit of rabid spectators calling you into a wave that could very well kill you, there's no room for hesitation. To win heats here, you need to stand your ground. You need to prolong the takeoff until you're skirting the line between taking the wave of your dreams and the beating of your nightmares. You need to tame a wave that most of us would happily deem unrideable, and best of all, you need to make it look easy. It's with this mantra in mind that I've drafted up my Fantasy Surfer team for Tahiti.

Sebastian Zietz
Market Price: $4,500,000
The only thing keeping Seabass from winning more heats is Seabass himself. Although he's skilled beyond most of his competition, he’s failed to execute when it comes to clinching wins in big heats. The talent is undeniably there, he just needs to learn how to finish the job consistently if he wants to compete at the top. That being said, a good showing at a wave like Teahupoo—a wave that he’s become well-acquainted with in the past—could really elevate his season. 

Owen Wright
Market Price: $8,750,000
Standing next to Owen can be intimidating; to compete against him is even more so. When it comes to this event, Owen isn't planning on anything but coming home victorious. And if that happens, he'll be that much closer to collecting his first world title come season's end at Pipe.

Kelly Slater
Market Price: $10,500,000
With his trademark focus nowhere to be found, Kelly has been showing up to events this year underprepared and visibly lacking energy. Yes, it's truly a blessing to watch him compete against the younger generations. But with the demands of his newly launched business ventures, wave pools, and surfboard factories, we're no longer seeing the best of Kelly when he surfs a heat. If his responsibilities were to vanish and he was to solely focus on competition, there would be talk of yet another world title and another generation of disheartened competitor’s left in his wake.

Dusty Payne
Market Price: $3,000,000
This season, Dusty's undoing can be traced to a simple-but-significant misstep: he's not on the best waves of the heat. But Tahiti’s different. Expect to see some fireworks and a big result for the Maui boy.

Michel Bourez
Market Price: $6,750,000
Michel was sidelined for a spell this season after injuring himself at Teahupoo. Most would be hesitant to return to the wave with such heavy consequences, but Bourez isn't most people. For him, the wave itself, not the competition, will be the greatest challenger en route to a potential victory.

John Florence
Market Price: $7,500,000
If there's even the slightest chance of making a drainer at Teahupoo, or any other barreling wave on the planet for that matter, John John will find a way. From where I stand, JJF finally looks healthy enough to return to his rightful place at the top of the rankings.

Julian Wilson
Market Price: $9,250,000
Excluding Owen, Julian is my favorite pick to win the world title this year. I believe that, based on his stature as one of the savviest surfers at Pipeline and Teahupoo, he'll find a way to produce a result no matter the conditions.

Jeremy Flores
Market Price: $3,750,000
Attitude determines our ability to handle a situation that appears beyond our control. In life-threatening conditions, Jeremy has proven his willingness to throw himself into harms way for massive scores and huge wins. In waves of consequence, and especially at a venue like Teahupoo, there's no denying that Jeremy is one of the most feared competitors in the game.

The Billabong Pro Tahiti gets underway on August 14. Click here to pick your Fantasy Surfer team.