It sure has been nice having a break between the Hurley Pro at Trestles and the 2015 Quiksilver Pro France. The extra time has allowed me to dig into some stats and get my game plan dialed for www.fantasygrudge.com. I'm up $250 over the past two events and don't plan on stopping anytime soon. But as always, I'll share the inside info and let you in on some tips. Let's go! --Jimmicane
Gabriel Medina ($16,250)
Gabriel has made two finals here in the past four years -- one of which translated into a win -- and he has never lost before the quarterfinals. He has an average finish of 3.25th place. It's officially his best event on tour and he's on nearly every one of my teams.
Kelly Slater ($16,500)
Everyone's biggest concern here is his interest. Does Kelly give a shit now that he's all but mathematically out of the World Title race? You're goddamn right he does. Remember when Mick sealed his 3rd championship at Pipe (after a very questionable judging call over Yadin Nicol)? Kelly went on a rampage, demolishing everyone in his path en route to his 7th Pipe Masters win. I just get that old-fashioned feeling that Slates will Houdini his way to a win in France.
John John Florence ($6,500)
Simple logic will tell you "Pick John John," every time he touches an ocean. But the harsh reality is that whenever he puts on a jersey, it's hit-or-miss. History tells us the surfers who commit 100% mentally to winning on the CT are the ones who succeed the most. Now that John is done filming for View From A Blue Moon, I think we’ll see a new level of competitiveness and focus emerge.
Jadson Andre ($5,500)
He's surfed this event four out of the past five years and never lost in Round 2. While I don't expect him to repeat 2014 and make the final, he's unlikely to tank.
Kolohe Andino ($5,000)
Kolohe’s sneakily ripped this contest the past three years, making the quarterfinals twice. My favorite highlight was his mocking of the judges last year by petting the whitewater forever to prove that he completely rode out of his airs.
On another note: please stop the Johnny Manziel "show me the money" shit. It was funny at first, but Manziel is a back-up QB for the Cleveland Browns (pause and think about that for a minute) and there's not one thing cool about swinging your massive salary in poor people's faces when you can barley crack the top 30 of the ‘CT.
Miguel Pupo ($5,000)
Similar to Kolohe, although not a 100% lock to re-qualify through the QS yet, Miggy's come on lately with a 3rd in the Azores, a 9th in Cascais and another 9th at the Hurley Pro. Like Medina, France is his best event on tour.
Michel Bourez ($5,000)
Being from Tahiti, this is like Michel's second home, only without all of the pressure. His coach Philippe lives there and will make sure everything's dialed. Wine, and ham and cheese baguettes. Hell yeah Michel!
How crazy was that interference call at Lowers? It makes sense when you break it down but it was an unfortunate situation to say the least. Doesn't take away the fact that Seabass was ripping in that heat. With all the time he's spent in closed out Off-The-Wall in front of the Oakley house, he can handle anything France throws at him.
Jordy Smith: Out again with lingering hip/knee/back issues. I don't expect him to return this year, although he should try to continue gaining experience at Pipe if he wants to be taken seriously for the World Title in 2016.
Matt Banting: The knee is not right yet. Injury wildcard situation will be interesting because Jordy's all but a lock to get one. The 2nd wildcard could go to whoever the WSL wants, injured or not.
Taj Burrow: Arabella Rose Burrow was welcomed into the world by Taj and his girlfriend Rebecca Jobson, 10/6/2015.
Aritz Aranburu and Caio Ibelli will take Jordy and Banting's spots. You know what you have in Aritz, which is to say, not much. Caio could do some damage though. He's already secured a spot for next year's ‘CT and he's legit.