Passion Picks: Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast 2015

WSL passion picks-snapper2015

Was that really an offseason? It felt more like an extended Spring Break. Oh well. We're back!

The Elite
Mick Fanning
If you're playing a game of word association and the topic is the Gold Coast, I'll be damned if the first thing out of your mouth isn't Mick Fanning. Kelly might be Pipeline Jesus -- and he's certainly Cloudbreak Jesus -- but Mick is officially Superbank Jesus.

Joel Parkinson
It's hard to believe, but Joel showed up zero times on Passion Picks in 2014. In the back of my mind I think Joel's packed it in, that he's ready for retirement, but that $100k winners check beckons after reportedly losing nearly 6x that in a failed rugby team investment.

Maybe you should consider...

Gabriel Medina
Let's compare Gabby to two athletes I feel he mirrors: Kelly Slater and Ayrton Senna. What did those two have in common? They won their first championship, and fell short on the following effort. Kelly finished 6th in 1993 and Senna placed 2nd in 1989. If you look at the Women's WSL, you'll find that Carissa Moore has yet to win back-to-back championships. Mick Fanning is another who needed a year to re-charge the batteries after titles.

My point? It's easy to get high on success while others are out grinding and gunning for your spot. With social media, it's only gotten tougher (girls begging for sex, fanatics telling you you're the best etc.)

Gabby has an uphill battle and I'll wait for him to get in a groove before launching him back on my squad. Plus, other than his win last year, and a decade before that when Mick Lowe won, Snapper seems to hate goofies.

The Grinders
Kolohe Andino
I took a trip down memory lane and scoped our Flipbook from Snapper during Brother's Rookie year on tour in 2012. He was a straight up little kid. If anyone from the past decade should've considered the Taj Burrow route of holding back and waiting a year to hop on the ole 'CT, it was Kolohe. But now, he's a grown ass man -- haters on Australian news networks fear for their girlfriends and he's a proven threat in any event. If he's available in this bracket, he'll always be on my team.

Owen Wright
Last year was all about knocking the rust off. This year, #itson. You don't go from World Title contender at age 22, to over the hill at age 25 (unless you're Derrick Rose.) Expect a heavy dose of Wrights this year on both the Men's and Women's tours.

Julian Wilson
I rode with him all last year and it was mostly brutal. At Pipeline, the loyalty paid off. Will Snapper go the way of his March-November struggles or his Triple Crown tear? My advice to Julian: take all that weight off your shoulders and just go surf. We know how good you are. Let the talent take over and do your thing.

Filipe Toledo
Breaking news on Passion Picks. We're doing a movie project on Filipe. It will premiere this year during the Hurley Pro. Why Filipe? Because he's the most exciting surfer in the world not named John John Florence and because he's not yet 20 years old. The arrow is pointing so far up it's ridiculous.

Maybe you should consider...
Nat Young

I've said it before and I'll say it again, having a girlfriend is bad for your career as a young professional surfer. Willingness to travel non-stop and surf your brains out takes a hit when you wake up every morning snuggling a hot blonde. When Nat went off the market mid last year, his results flip-flopped. Coincidence? Maybe, but something to ponder nonetheless.

The Strugglers
Dusty Payne
A year into this fantasy format and we still can't pick wildcards? Some people here might want to add Dane Reynolds on their team. With the freesurfing he's been doing in California recently, it'd be a smart call. Where you at Dave Prodan?

The good news is, Dusty Payne is back on tour and seems to have a renewed outlook on life. His attitude is at an all time high, his Patriots are Super Bowl Champions, and he's the only person in this bracket you could realistically picture on the podium if things fell perfectly.

Italo Ferreira
8% of people are starting Italo. I dare you to watch this edit and see if he doesn't creep on your team last minute.

It looks identical to bad Snapper (which we will most likely see heats run in at some point), and he's flaring the shit out of it. Maybe the judges will hate his backside whips or maybe he'll have rookie nerves, but my feeling is post-Quik Pro '15 you'll recognize Italo Ferreira as the beast he is.

Maybe you should consider...
Matt Wilkinson

Gotta love a throw back to the glory days of the tour when all competitors (besides Slater) were exactly like Wilko is now. They partied, had fun, and sure as hell never trained. Reality is, you can't do that anymore and be successful. It's gotten too serious and fiercely competitive. But if you look at recent history there is one event per year where Wilko's talent takes over and he tears waves to pieces on his backhand. It happened in Santa Cruz in 2012 (2nd place), Snapper in 2013 (5th place), and Jbay in 2014 (3rd place). It could very well happen again here.