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Contest Preview – France 2017

Where were we?

The Trestles event was eclipsed by a wave pool, Wilko's wheels fell off (again), Filipe dominated, while Jordy and John established their leads.

Are we all caught up now? Good.

Let's set our focus to Europe.

Conditions

Surfline have dipped their toes in the water with a decent overview of the contest, which you can read here. For those averse to hyperlinks, the important details are thus:

The bad news first, it hasn’t been a dreamy run of conditions in France over the last few months. After a good start to the summer, a flat August was followed by three weeks of rain. Finally a few weeks ago the swell showed up on a number of good banks up and down the stretch, just in time for a strong swell to tear them all apart. Ce la vie, as they say.

There is good news, however. There is tons of sand at La Graviere, which is where the main contest structure is located. That has allowed the famous shorey to be surfed even on the smaller swells, which is rare. Locals think that given ideal conditions (six-to-ten feet of shortish period NW swell) there will be plenty of big, hollow, diamonds in the rough. Also the Quik crew has put a year’s work into making the mobile set up, well, more mobile. In theory that should allow them to pounce on any new banks much faster. And with a macking swell forecast for the weekend before the waiting period, a new bank is never more than a few days away.

The WSL have done some great Break Breakdowns with Curren and Leo over the past two years, so there's plenty of detailed information out there for those who want to analyse the tits off it. For those who just dig generalities, then this is what you need to know: conditions here vary greatly, with winds, swell and tide all offering significant changeability during the course of the contest. Add to that the fact that this is a 'shared' mens/womens event, and you could easily expect wildly different conditions from one round of competition to the next. The venue(s) are all sand-bottom beach breaks, but some can handle well-overhead conditions if the elements align correctly.

Normally, the surfers who succeed here can adapt well and surf a range of conditions. Use our sortable data and check the forecast* (which is yet to be updated by the WSL) to make sure you're selecting a well-suited team.

*early models suggest clean, small-ish conditions for the first day or two, followed by a drop in swell. It looks like there could be a new pulse later in the week (Thurs, 12th onwards), but it's a little early to call at this stage.

Conditions Picks

Mick Fanning

Mick has the best historical data for the event, but as Cahill Bell-Warren so chirpily attests: past results are not a reliable indicator of future performance. You see, Mick hasn't been living up to his stats lately, so I'm including a caveat to his conditions data for this event...

Right. Why is Mick such a solid pick here? He's won the event more than any other surfer (4 times). There's that. He also has the best AHS for the event, despite finishing 5th and 9th in the data period. He tops the AHS for 1-4' waves across all venues over the past 3-and-a-half seasons as well. He has the best average in beach-breaks among non-rookies (2nd behind Joan Duru, who has much less reliable data) and 3rd-best among non-rookies in events with left-right peaks.

Can Mick shake off his funk and claim a 5th French title?

John John

John got the best projected AHS score from our data this event, based on solid historical averages in this contest (2nd), left/right peaks (2nd), 4-6' waves (2nd), 6-8' waves (2nd), beach breaks (5th) and 1-4' waves (5th). He has no real weaknesses, and certainly fits the criterion of being able to adapt to a range of conditions.

Gabriel Medina

Gabe has the best historical average result at this event among all tour surfers, with 4 finals in 6 appearances and two 5ths as his 'worst' results. His averages heat score data places him in the top 5 for all relevant conditions, including wave-height variations and beach breaks.

 

Conditions Warnings

Michele Bourez

Bourez lost narrowly at Trestles, but his result lived up to his poor projections at the event. He'll be hoping to buck that trend here though, as the numbers don't like his chances in France either. Bourez's low averages in this event (4th-worst), beach breaks (2nd worse), and left-right peaks (3rd worse) tell a sad story. There is hope of some possible success though in his average-placing data, with only one 25th in 10 contests and several R5/quarters finishes.

Wiggolly Dantas

Wiggles hasn't won a heat here in his two years on tour, partly due to having the 2nd-worst AHS for the event over his 4 heats (9.57). His other conditions averages aren't too bad, but he's fighting history to do well here.

Joel Parkinson

Joel is another surfer with a low AHS for this particular event (9.82). While he's made 2 finals (he won in 2006) and 2 more semis in France, he's also had a R2 exit in nearly half of all his attempts.

Keanu Asing

Last year's champion used the small, dribbling lefts to his advantage with a safe-and-secure backhand attack. If the conditions offer left-right peaks or larger swells, the 'Nu could come undone: he has the second-worst AHS in left-rights as well as low averages in beach breaks, 4-6' waves and 6-8' conditions. Check the forecast for this one.

* Keanu just picked up a handy 9th in Cascais, which had challenging-yet-comparable conditions.

Form Picks

Filipe Toledo

Filipe has won two of the past 3 events and is the first surfer to win a second contest this season. He may have dropped a 25th at Tahiti, but that bears little influence on his confidence coming into an event like this. We ran a 'form' column for this event, which finds the average heat score from all heats over the past 3 events. Filipe ran 2nd behind JJF, despite his poor event in Tahiti.

Gabriel Medina

Filipe may have won the most recent tour event, but Gabe won an even more publicised event at Slater's Ranch. The contest win may not have had any title wight, or even much coverage on social media, but I guarantee it was a confidence boost for someone like Medina who likes to win everything. It was in lefts and rights too.

Jordy Smith

Jordy has only had a single 13th all year as his lowest result, otherwise pushing on for a quarters or better for 6/8 events. Jordy's only concern may be his low 'form' AHS from the past events, which only puts him slightly above Fanning in 9th.

John John Florence

John has the best 'form' AHS on tour, scoring almost a full point above his next-best rival with an average of 16.59 across 3 events. John has also has the best AHS for the season, and he's finished in the quarters or better for his past 3 events.

Ezekiel Lau

Zeke took down some quality competition, including a number of CT surfers, on his way to victory in the Euro beachies. He jumped 93 places on the QS, but he also gained some extra swagger heading into France.

 

Form Warnings

Joel Parkinson

Seriously, 13, 13, 25? Parko's AH for the past 3 events is low, placing him between Wiggolly and Kerr at 8th-lowest on tour. Is the former world champ finally over it?

Stu Kennedy

Stu backed up his 5th at Trestles in 2016 with a 25th in 2017. It equals his 3rd R2 loss in a row and 6th for this season. He has the 5th-worst 'form' AHS on tour at the moment.

Miguel Pupo

One win in his past six heats and the lowest AHS from the last 3 events.

 

Heat Draw

While only a minor consideration when compared to conditions and form, the draw should still be a partial influence. Having 3 surfers in a R1 heat, or worse 2 surfers facing off in R2, is bad form. If you want to play around with heat wins and R2 possibilities, we recommend wslbracket.com as a fun way of predicting result match-ups. Be aware though that a single change from your projections can alter the following round entirely.

Slater is out, Nat is in, and wildcards Marc and Keanu have been added.

Our R1 “heat of death” nomination for this contest is H8: Gabe/ JFlo/ Leo

Sleeper Picks

We like to offer a few suggestions that may not be on everyone’s radar. Any success that involves deviating from the popular vote will provide a huge advantage for players willing to take the risk.

Top Tier

There aren't many dark horses amongst the top 8, but John, Gabe, Jordy and Filipe will surely be the most selected. Julian is our pick for a top-tier sleeper, based purely on his amazing Trestles videos.

Mid Tier

Ace Buchan was in the final at the KSWC event. Not because he's the most progressive, not because he's necessarily the best, but because he's one of the smartest competitors on tour. Ace has a water-tight contest game and he has shown some solid form at times this year. Sleeper.

Low Tier

Our numbers definitely like Zeke, and history likes Keanu, but we thought we might just hitch our wagon onto Ewing one more time for fun.

 

Outliers

Wildcards

Last year Leo knocked out KS in R2. This year we've got a defending champ and a hungry local. If a down-on-confidence surfer draws one of these guys, it could spell trouble.

Leonardo Fioravanti

Speaking of Leo, he's lived on this stretch of coast since he was 12. I think he knows the conditions.

Kolohe Andino

Kolohe has a good record here, with no 25ths, two quarters and a semi final among his 5 events. His form is down, but he shouldn't be written off just yet.

Keanu Asing

The chances of him backing up his surprising 2016 result are pretty slim, but he's so tempting. We're staying away though, for what it's worth...

 

Teams

Here are our “numbers” teams: a result of our selection process based purely on projections. They rarely suck, but they don't predict the dark-horses either. Join our leagues and see if you can wax them:

WSL team

Holy Friendly-Fire, Batman. Two surfers in H5, all three in H11? The algorithm is pushing its R2 luck with this team. Ian and Zeke have been a little hit-and-miss, and Joan didn't came out with a 25th here last year, but it's a fairly solid team that will have many surfers in the top-ownership brackets.

 

FS team

Similar to the WSL team, except Ian sits on the pine to make way for Filipe. Looks promising...

Surf-stats Clubhouses

Now that you know the team break-downs, it’s time for you to create a team that will hold our selections to account. Sign up to our WSL Surf-Stats group (password - SS) or the Fantasy Surfer Surf-Stats clubhouse and challenge yourself against us and our readers. We will give a shout-out to each winner and leader.

As always, feel free to comment or leave your own team selections below.

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook for updates and news.

Lastly, a big thanks to all of our readers who have donated via the PayPal button. Surf-Stats is completely run in my spare time and funded at my own expense; those donations keep my domain and hosting fees paid and also help me justify the nights spent on spreadsheets. Plus any donation, however small, will help me convince my wife that people actually read this shit.

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Balyn McDonald
Editor-in-Chief

Balyn grew up on the east coast of Australia, nourishing his passion for surfing through a diet of empty beach breaks, Taylor Steele VHS cassettes and poor amateur competition results. As one of the head writers/analysts for Surf-Stats, he is as comfortable tearing through spreadsheets as he is 6′ left-handers.


5 thoughts on “Contest Preview – France 2017

  1. If you do play with WSLbracket.com, you’ll see that Mick and Frederico are almost guaranteed to meet up in Round 3. Much like Kelly and him earlier this year. What do you say to that? Worth it to have either one regardless?

    • The R3 match-ups will always depend on your predicted wins, Alex. You may be making assumptions that could be turned on their head when the heats hit the water (especially in France). That said, some seeds are always more likely to match up than others; I never take both the top seed and lowest wildcard in the same team.

      Mick could have his work cut out for him against Freddy, so for his sake I hope he misses the clash. Other than that, they both seem like good picks.

      Good luck!

    • Cheers Jeffe,

      Sometimes you get lucky with the prices.

      I’m watching Zeke, Italo and Frederico in the semis now and I’m hoping they can take their form into France.

      Good luck with your team!

      – Balyn

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