“I’m not going to lie; that was a lot of hard work”
– 2016 Rio women’s champion, Tyler Wright.
Was she talking about winning her third event for the season? Or was she referring to the effort required by surfing fans to stay interested in the Rio Pro?
I’m not going to kill myself detailing the ins and outs of the Rio contest as I am already too busy forgetting it in favour of the Fiji Froth-fest, but here are my observations after event 4:
- Wilko’s flavour-of-the-month title continues to wane. He’s still well out in front of the championship race, but the latest game amongst the surf media seems to be "pick who will beat Wilko for the title". Who will select him at Fiji? is the big question.
- Medina was the surfer of the contest. His failure to find a solid back-up score was all that stood between him and the dream match-up that we all wanted in the final.
- John John is refining his contest game; he’s been getting to each event site early and putting in the hours all year; he’s been seeking guidance from the right people; he’s been focused, both in and between heats; and, as he’s just demonstrated at Rio, he can build momentum throughout a contest and peak at the right time.
- Florence decimated Adriano in their semi; of the 6 highest scoring waves, ADS had 1.
- Freestone was surfing really well. He looked very comfortable in the big moments and he stuck to a smart game plan. This kid could make a few more finals.
- Tyler is on a tear this year! Courtney is absolutely killing it too, but 3 wins in 4 events is incredible.
- The title race is a shit fight. Ciao Ibelli – just the one surfer – is the only guy to have made it past R3 in every event this season. And he’s a rookie.
- Speaking of rookies, Stu got 3rd at the Goldy, Conner got a 5th at Bells, Caio and Leo got 5ths at Margies and now Freestone gets a 2nd and Davey a 5th at Rio. Will Kanoa bring the noise at Fiji, or has Callinan got the forehand advantage? Maybe Ribeiro can stun us all with a big result...
- Parko was stupid to ditch this event if a second title means anything to him; an achievable 3rd place in Rio would have had him sitting more than 1000 points ahead of Italo in 2nd place going into Fiji. Instead he now has 2 throw-aways, no momentum, and a massive job ahead of him. (Like he gives a shit.)
We have some champions to congratulate:
Surf-Stats WSL group overall – 40yr Old Grommie is still in the lead, with 2,212.97 overall, 573.19 for the event, and sitting at 485th in the overall rankings, proving that it IS possible to read our picks and still taste success.
Best Possible WSL Team
This team, with a score of 726.98, took some faith in Tier C, but was otherwise fairly achievable. Medina, John John, Italo, Adriano and even rookie golden boy Caio were all common selections. Nobody had all 8 though, with the closest being the 4 teams who had Filipe instead of Pupo at a cost of a little more than 7 points.
Worst Possible WSL Team
This team made a dismal 169.8 and were as useful as tits on a nun:
Ribeiro, Ribeiro, Ribeiro: what are we going to do with you? Kolohe and Wiggolly were lowlights for me, while Conner, Ace, Flores and Julian would have disappointed others. Lopes was a stupid option. Who suggested him?
Surf-Stats Projection Reflections
The outcomes for Rio varied across the two fantasy games, but generally both teams fared better in the FS game. The numbers teams are kicking the fantasy asses of the Surf-Stats regular teams:
Surf-Stats WSL: 484.58 (28,768th for the event, and 23,599th overall)
Numbers WSL: 594.84 (4,903rd for the event, 8,051st overall)
Surf-Stats FS: 849 (placed 4,281st for the event, 15,829th overall)
Numbers FS: 789 (placed 8,605th for the event, 12,214th overall)
Our projections ranged from prophet-like (Medina and ADS for conditions, Florence and Italo for form, warning against Keanu, Ribero and Slater for form, and warning against Seabass for consistency) to downright criminally misleading (warning against Melling and Dusty for conditions, suggesting Bino for form, and Flores and Wiggolly as sleepers). With none of the top 10 having a good result, it was always going to be a tough contest.
These winners are in the running to claim the overall SS awards at the end of the year:
Biggest single manoeuvre: hey, guess what? We picked a backflip last event even though it was outside of the contest. This time Medina made sure his counted.
Best wave: Gabe had two perfect 10s this contest, and his other 10 was just as good; a massive, tail-high reverse air, straight into a smooth bottom turn to set up a solid backside close-out re-entry. Tight stuff indeed. John John’s 9.8 against ADS in the SF was just as good though, because it showed us a rare barrel, followed by two solid manoeuvres AND it included some rather funny commentary from Potz.
Best heat: the Final – There weren’t many heats that were genuine contests with high-scoring totals. There were a few scrappy grovel contests, and there were heats where one surfer absolutely ripped things apart to steam-roll his opponent, but there was nothing that combined both elements. For my mind, the final was the closest we got to two surfers both surfing very well, despite the fact that Jack was combo’d for most of the heat. Round 1, H9 was pretty close with some solid surfing, but it wasn’t anywhere near as interesting as a final.
Biggest disappointments: The waves. The fact that some surfers couldn’t be bothered turning up and the WSL didn’t seem to care. The fact that I can’t get a score that cracks the top 100 this year. Bring on Fiji.
Most impressive: Freestone looked like his injury was well and truly behind him. In only his 2nd event of the year, Freestone has already stood up to be counted amongst the danger men of 2016. Medina was the surfer of the event though, and his 3rd place here means that he is coming back into form just in time for Fiji.
There are around two weeks until the Fiji Pro kicks off on June 9th, and there will be a lot of interest in how the first of the 'Pacific Island' events shapes up. Slater is back in the mix, reigning champ Owen is still out, Mick and Taj are back and Wilko is facing a mini-slump. We will have our sortable data tables up in a few days and a full analysis soon after. Until then, here’s a sneak peek at the upcoming draw (thanks to Fantasy Surfer):