Tahiti Preview

Shea Lopez on who to put on your Fantasy Surfer Team for Teahupoo

You better believe Michel Bourez will be milking his home field advantage. Photo: Joli

For me, the "Dream Tour" consisted of Pipe, G-Land, Cloudbreak, and Teahupoo. When I began my run on the WCT, I had already crammed in a lifetime full of Lowers and Florida ramps. I only wanted to do one thing--get some big ol' barrels, and the WCT was my golden ticket to ride the tube. This coming week in Tahiti should see pit after pit tear over this anomaly of a reef pass.

But nothing’s for sure till the storm develops. The swell forecast looks decent right now with multiple pulses in the 4- to- 6-foot range. Surprisingly, at that size the wave favors goofies due to the complexity of the inside shelf. Scary-big is pretty even ground, with regulars able to drag ass as they come out to get that little extra tube time that always seems to make the difference in the judges' eyes.

I was looking at the Fantasy Surfer dashboard earlier, making my team, and it felt really good to actually consider picking multiple goofies instead of the usual token one or two. It would be downright stupid not to pick a Hobgood or two, and then there are Fred and Bobby, whose past performances put them as must-haves as well. But coming in as terribly low seeds, a world title contender could be sent packing early. Tahiti has always been where the men (AI, Kelly, Mick) pull away from the pretenders.

Here is my FS team:

Kelly--If the US Open was the best small-wave contest performance of his career, then it's going to be a real treat to see him carry over that same form to the Billabong Pro.

Dusty Payne--Besides a few sophomore errors, Dusty has been the closest competitor performance-wise to Taj this year--and Taj can't come close to Dusty's backside tube-riding act. Dusty hasn't had the easiest go so far, but even a young AI struggled immensely with the WCT grind. The extra effort Dusty's been putting in sure has made him a much better surfer--a world-title contending surfer for years to come.

Julian Wilson--With his nose to the grindstone and goals firmly planned out, Julian has worked his way into a future world-title contender as well. A little more Parko and a little less Adriano in his approach would help ease that process. Sushi-roll on the west bowl?

Parko--He's so damn cheap you can't not pick him. A hundred heats or so at Teahupoo guarantees a solid performance and result.

Michel Bourez--The way Jordy owns J-Bay is how Michel owns Teahupoo.

Owen Wright--Instinctually a superb tube-rider, Owen has to win this event to have any chance at the world title. With his caliber of surfing, anything less than a world title is a letdown come year's end.

The Hobgoods--So good I picked them twice. Seriously, they will put the fear of god in you at Teahupoo. Like hamsters on crack, they work the lineup at a ridiculous speed and efficiency, picking off high-scoring waves up and down the reef that others see as only crap. It's CJ's turn for a big result in the karmic balance of the universe that sees Damo and him almost equal in every stat throughout their careers.


"The Cut" is coming up, so if you have a surfer you are on the fence about picking, check if he is on the fence to qualify or not. You can count on all those guys needing a result to go hard and be as pumped up and prepared as ever.

Wildcards--Or better labeled "Teahupoo specialists." After making it through an arguably tougher field than the main event to qualify, Williams and Santos are going to put pressure on those top seeds from Round 1.

Jordy--His frontside tube-riding is on par with the best, but his backside act remains to be seen.

Brazil--The whole country has been an unstoppable wave taking over every surf contest around the planet recently. They have their Teahupoo specialists we all know about, and they have solid representation on the WT as well. Can determination and grit overcome their lack of experience at a hollow reef pass? That always worked out well for us Floridians.