The Fantasy Surfer Info You Need for the Billabong Pro Tahiti
It’s that time of the year again, folks: Tahiti. A tie with the Pipe Masters for the most exhilarating viewing experience in the sport. Guys that’ll do well are kind of a given, especially with the momentum they’ve built all year (John, Gabs) but what about the rest of them? Parko had an injury but is back to full-strength. Sadly, Owen’s officially out. World #1 Wilko’s had quite the run…but can he really keep the lead after this one? Any who, here’s our Fantasy Surfer picks for the Billabong Pro Tahiti if ya wanna trade notes…
1. Gabriel Medina
Gabs knows what it’s like to win at Chopes…and against Slater in a final (2014). At the moment he’s looking pretty damn focused and has way more steam at this time than he did last year. He’s a quarter-finalist no question and has a good chance to be in the last heat of the event.
2. John John
It’s John - no one is better on their backhand in big tubes than him. That’s just a cold hard fact. But if it gets a little smaller and inconsistent—that’s where he can be beatable when previously on an unstoppable tear. At No. 2 in the world, though, John’s clearly been surfing smarter, a little safer and with an evident drive to win a title (and Tahiti) in the process.
3. Italo Ferreira
Two words: Dark. Horse. After surprising absolutely everyone last year as a rookie, he’s come to be known for his deadly backhand attack but he’s pretty terrifying in big barrels too. He made the quarters last year in his first time at Tahiti and he’s a great bet in 2016. Italo is the kind of guy that will take advantage of any mistake his opponent makes in a heat and turn it into his benefit.
4. Joel Parkinson
While his Dream Tour colleagues are taking breaks and retiring all around him, former world-champ Parko ain’t quite done yet. Never one to be counted out in perfect, slabby lefts, Parko gleaned his backhand Chopes style from years sparring with Andy Irons out there. A quarterfinal finish for sure, a win quite possibly.
5. Kelly Slater
It’s Slater. Sure, he seems like he’s pretty disinterested this year (or at least pretends to be when once he loses) but he also loves perfect waves and loves experimenting with the seemingly infinite talent that his backside tube-riding knows. And in heats, too! Bottom-line, Kelly’s always a contender out at Chopes and has won it before.
6. Jeremy Flores
Coming back from a crazy head trauma accident in Indo last year to miss J-Bay and then WIN Tahiti in a helmet (against doctor’s orders), Jeremy’s always had a special connection with Teahupoo. With beautiful form and flow on his backhand in slabs, look for a possible repeat in August.
7. Ryan Callinan
Low on the charts, but still deadly, Ryan may very well step his game up and show us his potential out at Teahupoo. Word on the peak is he’s hoping it’s big this year to prove himself.
8. Sebastian Zietz
One of the rare events all year that you know Seabass WILL shine in. Bred on the same Kauaian slabs as A.I., Seabass is comfortable, steezy and exciting in Tahiti. Waves-wise, the bigger the better for him and there’s been a whole lotta activity in the South Pac this season.
The Alternate -
While more known for his small-wave prowess and innovative approach, Jack is certainly a threat on his backhand and has experience out at Tahiti on some bigger days. After missing a couple events earlier in the season to injury, then coming back with a 2nd in Brazil, Jack’s got nothing to lose.
Guys to Avoid -
One of the most exciting surfers on tour, but struggles on his backhand in hollow lefts. He won't be starting for us.
Also not the strongest on his backhand in the tube. Positioning can sometimes be off and has never been a threat when it’s bigger. Not a strong pick.
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