Welcome to Margaret River for only the second WCT event to ever bless this coast. Pretty crazy considering the wave quality and the fact that Australians think of surfing as a real sport, but not crazy when you think about how average Margaret’s Main Break is when measured on a world-class scale. It's big, it's chunky, it's mushy and you better believe it's challenging. Still, this is not a spot where the modern day surf fan wants to watch their favorite surfers compete. But hey, thanks to Drug Aware, we get an 11th WCT event and that's a good thing. Let's just pray for swell that moves it to The Box or North Point. A doubtful outcome, but we can still hope.
He's so damn consistent. I'm sick of risking top picks on the Jordy Smiths of the world. Mick never falls and never makes heat-costing mistakes. While this may not be the most inspiring trait, Mick's surfing is perfect in all conditions and I'll be baffled if it doesn't work for at least 3rd place.
Probably a popular selection because, well, he grew up here. That doesn't necessarily mean he's better suited for this wave than anyone else. I seriously doubt TB regularly paddled out at Margies much after the age of 12. With a 3rd at Snapper, I don't get the feeling he's ready to throw in the "I'm never winning a World Title" towel. If Taj is going to make us believers again, he better do it at home.
I'm cautious of picking…
There aren't many places you're able to say, "Kelly isn't at an advantage here." Basically only two places in the world: Sunset Beach and Margaret River. Both have similar wave styles that Slater seems to dislike. The WA Tourism board offered him multiple "open tickets (AKA appearance fees)" to show up for WQSs here in years past. We watched him fall to guys like Billy Stairmand and Oakley Team Manager Tom Whitaker. Those are hideous losses that would probably happen less than 1 percent of the time in quality surf, but at Margaret's, everyone is on the same open-ocean playing field and Kelly Slater becomes vulnerable against every surfer on tour. That said, he's still favored by betting sites to win the event. I’m not taking that bet, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he proved me wrong.
No one will soon forget Kerrzy's final out here when he blitzed Taj Burrow with a back-to-back air combo (1:58 mark) that had 10s dropping faster than strippers from a pole at Magic City. Success is not an abnormal thing for Kerr at Margaret's, though. He made the Final last year against Dusty Payne, and the Quarters the year before that. West Oz = air wind on rights. Air wind on rights = Kerr winning heats.
ASP judges don't have binoculars and they won't need them to see Natty-boy blasting chunks to oblivion at Main Break. The guy is built to surf powerful, open-ocean waves and is not gonna back down from any beastly section that comes his way. Look for Nat to be back in the Elite category when you're picking your team for Bells.
This is the kind of event where there's always someone under the radar who takes down multiple big names. Ace is a man of great character and also maybe a man forgotten on the Hurley team, but he's won two WCT events in his career and he's sneaky good out here. Go Ace!
When I saw Julian matched up against Mitch Crews in the Quik Pro I thought, hmm, sorry Mitch. Then I saw Julian blatantly burn Crewsey twice in an expression session the day before their matchup and thought, that's not very nice. Julian lost that next heat to karma and not to bad surfing. He still looked great, but caught crappy waves. I'm hoping he turned his karma around during the two-week break and is ready to kick some West Oz ass now.
I'm cautious of picking…
Watching Jordy sit with priority for three-quarters of a heat while Tiago Pires was getting barreled straight past him was one of the most surreal things I've seen in years. Isn't this the guy that's supposed to be all grown up and ready to contend? Jordy is too hard to predict and at a spot where you need to be smart and selective to make heats, I'm staying far away.
The Strugglers and Wilds
Never thought I'd see the day where I called JJF a struggler. Well that day is here and I guess he deserves it for losing to Travis Logie, finishing last place on the Gold Coast. But shortly after, he beelined it to West Oz and has surely been taking his aggression out with airs to the flats for his next movie project. I guarantee you John will be out of this struggler bracket by the end of the Drug Aware Pro. If I'm wrong you can each smash one empty beer can on my forehead next time you see me and tell me I suck.
You put Kai into the Elite bracket and there's no chance in hell I'm picking him. Throw him down to the Strugglers and I'm all over it.
I'm cautious of picking…
Honestly, there's quite a few good options in the Strugglers for this event. I wouldn't be surprised to see any surfer in here do damage. Remember, this is Main Break. You never know when someone will get smashed on dry reef, eaten by a great white or just not catch a wave that allows more than a single cutback. There's blood in the water, Strugglers. This is your ticket out.—Jimmicane
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