Firstly, let me apologise for the lateness of my article; Travis Logie forced me to go on hold every few hours in order to reflect the true nature of the contest. The final result may be spectacular, but you could just lose your mind getting to it.
Speaking of losing one’s mind: How bat-shit-crazy was that contest? World Title twists, upsets, near-perfect heats, near unrideable conditions, hours and hours of being on-hold, footage of pros getting sick waves on lay days, dark horses and, of course, disappointments. Man, Portugal had it all. All, that is, except for anything resembling fantasy points for my team. But enough about me, let’s analyse this mess…
The big result in the clubhouse was for new member Manocket, who scored 501.94 in a universally difficult contest. Manocket proved that it wasn’t just a one-off too; he’s the overall clubhouse leader going into the Pipe contest (I only need to beat him by a measly 323 points in the last event to take the title!). Congratulations Manocket; you’re faith in Brett Simpson has paid dividends.
For Portugal, it was all about Tiers A & C: Wildcards and serial under-performers were the call in the lower tier, while rookies and where-have-you-been-since-Rio Toledo were the picks at the top end. Tier B wasn’t too surprising, with Flores and Kolohe getting wraps in my pre-event article, Nat a reliable tour surfer and Joel a former world champ (OK, I put him on my blacklist, but 43% had him).
The perfect WSL Fantasy Total was 754.34, but you had to have been a madman to pick it.
The top individual event score went to Mafalda’s Picks with a score of 686.48. He picked 6 of the top 8 possible surfers, with JJF and Bede making up his other two.
Here are my reflections on contest in a nutshell:
- The World Tour is starting to look like it represents the world: Of the 8 surfers in the quarter finals, the two historically dominant forces of Australia and the U.S. had only 1 surfer each (the mighty U.S of A was represented by Brett Simpson, by-the-way). The remaining 6 surfers were from Europe (1x France, 2x Portugal) and South America (Brazil). Maybe this means something, maybe not. It must be said though that it certainly looks better for a sporting body to have diversity when pushing for a future Olympics spot…
- Forget (to some extent) what I just wrote above; this country-of-origin shit has gone too far: There is no Brazilian Storm, no Euro push, no end-of-an-era period for Australia and America. There are surfers – very talented ones. Some of them come from the same country as one-another. It means little though, because the more we group these guys as a body, the less we see them as individuals. Italo Ferreira has been phenomenal this year and, if it wasn’t for the fact that he keeps being generalised as just-another-Brazilian, the surfing media would be scrambling over themselves to know more about a rookie who’s currently sitting at 6th in the world. Let’s just push less for nationalism and more for individual merit. Rant over.
- We are heading towards the most exciting Title race in recent memory.
- Filipe knows how to win finals: He is 3 for 3 this year, averaging 19.10 (yes, averaging near-perfect heats) and locking in a 10 each time. That’s how you surf finals, ladies and gentlemen.
- Electrifying finals don’t make for good contests: Sure, the final was good - really good, actually – but it’s not going to erase everyone’s frustrations at the previous 10 days of sub-par contest.
- Grovel skills in junk waves still have a place on the World Tour.
- Everywhere in Portugal seems to have been pumping except for the contest site.
- Anyone killing it fantasy-wise at this contest had a team that looked pretty junk going into R1 (seriously, Simpo, Morais, no Mick/ADS/Gabe/Slater/Julian/Owen? Get out of town!).
- Kieren Perrow pulled off a stroke of genius by mysteriously going ‘missing’ as contest director, leaving good ol’ Travis Logie to pick up the broken, delayed, wind-blown pieces.
- John John just keeps on finding new underachievers to knock him out of the contest.
The Fantasy Losers
Pause a moment. Forget the fantasy scores and just look at this team; there were some great surfers tanking at this event. Don’t feel too bad if you had them (maybe not so much in Tier C):
Owen Wright - 23.44
Julian Wilson - 21.76
Wiggolly Dantas - 22.64
Ace Buchan - 18.10
Jadson Andre - 17.87
Kai Otton - 17.01
Adam Melling - 17.74
Tiago Pires - 16.34
Total score: 154.9
The Fantasy Wash-Up’s Team Breakdown:
Look, I sucked; it was easily my worst contest of the year. It looks like most others did poorly too though as I only dropped around 40 places to 688th overall. Here’s where I went wrong:
Parko’s injury was fine. He got a 5th straight after I put him on the blacklist. Shit call. He should thank me for his renewed motivation by giving me a new board.
I rolled the dice in a tough Tier C group by going with CJ and Mason, both of which impressed me by making the 3rd round. Meanwhile Simpson, Morais and even Ribeiro went on to post some of the strongest Tier C results of the year.
Mick was rolled in R3 (see my link at the bottom of the article to see exactly what Kelly though of that heat result) and Medina fell just short of the semis, leaving my Tier A total only slightly better than those who chose Owen and Julian.
JJF choked to Asing, but who’s going to seriously leave him out at Pipe? Bede just doesn’t grovel in the junk like some of his peers, and he lacked the fire that was there in France. Wiggolly, a QS veteran and Brazilian beach break connoisseur, somehow managed to lose very early.
Flores was great for me, and my other Sleeper Picks Kolohe and Italo (not on my team, but recommended) were standouts.
The Surf-Stats - Numbers Team, representing the projected totals of the cold, hard data, predicted a total of 688.93. While this score was actually reached by the top-scoring team, it was never going to be predicted through statistics (too many upsets and too much unproven wildcard success). The Numbers Team went OK though, placing 9th in the clubhouse and scoring 405.82. Flores and Nat were the only ‘top’ surfers in the squad, but Medina did Ok and even Christie won a heat.
The Numbers Team’s 9th (out of 32) in the Surf-Stats Clubhouse was the best of the surf-stats teams, besting the Surf-Stats Gut Instincts team (12th, 399.75 points) and the Fantasy Wash-Up (18th, 380.73 points). There is a detailed wrap-up of how all of the Surf-Stats predictions and individual surfers fared more generally here.
World Tour Update
The world title race is complicated. There are still 6 surfers in the mix, but it’s only Mick, Filipe and ADS who can seal their own fate with a win. For Medina, Owen and (reigning Pipe champion) Julian, it also boils down to a reliance on the other contenders doing poorly. It’s stressful for those involved, but it makes for a great finale for fans. Fanning called Pipe ‘the Colosseum’ in his post-heat interview, and I get the feeling there could be some epic battles just waiting to live up to that name.
At the other end of the scale, there are some big question marks hanging over those surfers battling to re-qualify (see below). Banting and Jordy should be able to rely on an injury spot in 2016, while Kolohe, Muniz, Pupo and even Melling could be able to use their QS points to earn a place. Remember also that Freddy and CJ have openly declared that they are done after 2015. This still leaves a handful of very nervous surfers on the edge of qualification and looking for a massive result at Pipe (3 of them Hawaiian). The big QS points on offer for the Hawaiian events will also have a significant say in the importance of Pipe, with a Triple Crown Title and possibly a 2nd chance qualification up for grabs. The forecasts point to an excellent Hawaiian season and it’s an exciting time to be a surf fan.
If you haven’t already, tune in to the HIC pro to whet your appetite for Hawaii, or maybe buy the latest issue of Elle magazine to get your fix of Mick Fanning’s Blue Steel (or is it Le Tigre?), or watch the first few minutes of the R3, H7 Heat Analyser to see Slater sharing his conspiracy theories with Fanning about why the judges gave the heat to Morais (before the webcast producers shit themselves and fade him out), or even brush up on your knowledge of claiming. Whatever you do, have fun and watch out for the pre-Pipe Wash-Up - it’s going to be a froth-fest.
See You in the Water,