Thanks to Hurricane Joaquin meandering through the Atlantic, the small conditions currently on tap in France should be replaced by pumping swell and the chance to see some huge and epic conditions. For the uninitiated, that means being prepared for conditions every bit as big and challenging as Hawaii. Couple that with the notorious tides and shifting peaks—which will often transform dramatically in the scope of a single heat—and you're left with one of the most difficult-yet-rewarding venues on tour. For my FS team I went with surfers that can produce in the playful 4-foot peaks we are accustomed to in France, as well as the potential to excel in massive surf at La Nord.
Market Price: $9,750,000
While the surf world focuses its attention on the young, flashy upstarts, Owen quietly takes care of business. His forte? He shines in conditions that induce fear into much of the new blood. The surf in France packs some punch. Look to Owen to punch back.
Market Price: $5,500,000
There are moments when Michel is unbeatable against his competition…and then he goes and beats himself. It’s been said a thousand times before, but the secret to Michel finding success on tour is to surf at 80 percent in heats. Can a Filipe turn really be compared to one from Michel? I think not.
John John Florence
Market Price: $6,250,000
With the rare ability to keep up with the most freakish of small-wave tricksters and the moxie to stand tall when conditions go dark, a healthy John John is the full package. In the same fashion that Bruce and Andy excelled in the complex peaks of France, John is ripe to rise to the occasion on the sands of Hossegor.
Market Price: $5,00,000
Ever since I watched Jeremy battle it out in huge surf at 16 as a wildcard at Hossegor, I’ve held him in the highest regard. Jeremy’s track record is impeccable when conditions turn thick and tricky.
Market Price: $8,250,000
Parko is another surfer struggling to hold his position at the top during the recent influx of new talent. With a little more edge and determination—see Fanning as an example—Parko could be right back on top. I’m thinking a return to the podium will be coming soon for Joel.
Market Price: $6,250,000
Throughout this season, Dantas has shown us that his approach is buttery smooth and deceptively powerful. While he may not be quite as flashy as some of the other members of his peer group, Dantas is well-rounded, grounded, and has the ability to draw classic lines reminiscent of Bobby Martinez.
Market Price: $1,500,000
From where I stand, Dane is the best thing about the WSL, and including him as a wildcard is a sign that they understand his value to the sport. After all, including one of the best surfers and fan favorites with the tour makes perfect sense. We want to watch the establishment take on the fringe. After watching Kelly and Andy struggle with talented wildcards throughout their careers, I'd personally like to see three hand-picked but extremely talented non-World Tour surfers thrown into the mix at every event.