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Preview – Portugal 2017

Have you had time to catch your breath?

The dust has only just settled on the QuikPro France, and yet Portugal is already building momentum.

Are you in the running for anything fantasy-wise? Maybe some beers or dollars at your clubhouse friends' expense? Maybe the whole shebang? Portugal is where the world title picture really seems to focus; you better make damn sure your team is sorted.

Conditions

The WSL forecast tells us that swell will not be an issue for this event. In fact, the opening three days of the waiting period are predicted to offer overhead waves. The winds look more favourable on the Saturday and Sunday, but they could possibly push through the non-elimination R1 on the opening day if it's not too blown out.

Surfline have an ultra-detailed Mechanics of Supertubos article available for those who want to re-familiarise themselves with the break details and learn the meaning of bathymetry.

The WSL have a Break Breakdowns with local Tiago Pires  with plenty of stuff there for trainspotters. The 2016 guide is pretty handy too. Suit yourself. It spits this neat summary out for us too:

The event's main site, Supertubos, is a pumping sandbar that offers left and right barrels, plus great launch sections when the size stays in check. Some of the tour's most skilled progressive surfers (read: Toledo, Ferreira, Medina, and more) make the most of the break's launchpads when tubes aren't an option, or sometimes find both on one wave.

While Portugal isn't quite as changeable as France, surfers will need to adapt to wind, tide and swell conditions. Being a certified barrel-hound won't hurt either. Use our sortable data, check the forecast updates and choose the stats that you think are important.

Conditions Picks

John John vs. Jordy

The big question for most team selections will be: John or Jordy? There are a bunch of factors you may want to consider (claim skills, quality of facial hair), but John wins the stats battle at this venue (John's stats occur first in each pair):

John wins average event place (3rd best / =5th best), left/right peaks (2nd vs. 7th), beachbreaks (5th vs. 12th), 6-8' waves (2nd vs. 7th), 4-6' waves (2nd vs. 10th).

Jordy pips John with AHS for the event over the past 3 years (14.2 / 14.09) and the fact that he's made more semis (1 x 1st & 1 x 3rd / 2 x 2nd & 1 x 3rd).

It's a tough choice. Or you could just have both.

Mick Fanning

For France, we told you that Mick had the most titles. We told you that his conditions stats were pretty tight across the board for the event. Guess what? It's groundhog day.

Mick has won the event twice (the only surfer to do so), and he ranks near the top for Event Average Heat Score (2nd), Beachbreaks (2nd), Left/Right Peaks (5th) and 6-8' waves (6th).

Mick didn't WIN France, but he surfed well enough to deserve a spot on your team. At his price/seeding he's hardly a risk.

 

Gabriel Medina

Medina doesn't dominate this event like he does France. In fact, he ranks 16th in our average event placing with 11.83 (not a real place, obviously, but worse than R5/9th average). He has made one final, which he lost to Julian, one quarter, 3 x 13ths, and a 25th. He ranks a lowly 20th in event AHS over the past 3 years with just 11.86 over 10 heats.

Why suggest him? He's an all-rounder in these relevant conditions. He tops the AHS in 4-6' waves, and scores well in beachbreaks (3rd), 6-8' waves (4th) and left/right peaks (6th).

Maybe Gabe should be in our warnings below, as he's never won or consistently performed well at this event, but he has the foundations for a good result if he can surf to the conditions.

Joel

Joel is the yin to Gabriel's yang; he has a great average event placing (2nd-best only to the one-event Conner via 3 x 3rds, 2 x 5ths, a 9th and a 13th), but poor averages in related conditions (outside top 10 for beachies, left/right peaks and 6-8' waves).

Recommendation? Warning? You decide...

 

Conditions Warnings

Ace Buchan

Ace has scored an ignoble 25th at 5 of the past 6 Portugal events, has an event AHS of just 7.76 for the past 3 years at this venue.

Michel Bourez

Look, I''ll be honest: I'm considering taking Michel with the current forecast conditions, but I do so recognising that it's a statistical risk. He has a poor AHS for the event from the past 3 seasons (9.92) and ranks in the bottom 3 for both beachbreaks and left/right peaks.

He knows how to ride an overhead barrel though...

Mason Ho

I love Mason Ho's place in modern surfing. I want him to do well, if for no other reason than the fact that I'd like to watch him surf lots of waves. Our (albeit limited) data on Mason tells us that peaking beachies don't rate well for him though.

 

Form Picks

Gabriel

He's back in the title race and has won the past 2 events (if you count the Future Classic), making him a pretty hot commodity right now. He has the 2nd best form over the past 3 events, 2nd best win percentage for 2017 and 4th best AHS for the season.

John

Those form, win % and AHS rankings that Gabe boasts? Guess who he's behind? John tops them all.

Jeremy Flores

Flores has been the king of 13ths, with 7 to his name this season (plus a 5th and 9th). He should be genuinely disappointed with the judges giving him a loss in R3 at France as he had Mick beat. The reason he's here though is that, over the past 3 contests, he's had the 3rd best 'form' AHS, with 14.18.

Ethan Ewing

Three contests in a row without a 25th. He's now ranked above Yago Dora on CT points. I could sound cynical or ironic here, but I genuinely enjoyed watching his surfing in France and I know he can win heats if he can build momentum.

 

Form Warnings

Josh Kerr

What's with Kerr, anyway? He's ranked lowest of all full-time tour surfers and has the worst win percentage to match.

Stu Kennedy

Won R1 in France and looked like he could turn things around, only to lose in R3. He's averaging a heat total of 9.45 over the past 3 events, putting him dead last on form.

Jack Freestone

Jack's had 3 x 25ths in a row and 7 for the year. He's ranking 9th-worst on the form AHS from the past 3 results as well.

 

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 Mason and Vasco have been added.

Our R1 “heat of death” nomination for this contest is H5: Jordy/Italo/Vasco

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

John John.

Just kidding. I'm not sure if people even read this part; it's basically just an educated guess.

For my 2c though, I'm putting some tentative weight behind Owen. I first took notice of Owen as a wildcard in this event when it was the 2009 'Search' contest. He beat Slater, Dane and Damo Hobgood on the way to the semis, but burst his eardrum and had to withdraw. He seemed such a natural fit for these waves then, and, while he's never matched that result since, he still seems like a potential champion now.

Mid Tier

Seabass is such a tube pig; he snuffles around the line-up and uncovers dirty big barrels like precious truffles. I'm hoping to see some more Seabass magic in Portugal.

Low Tier

Leonardo has had a lean rookie year, especially for someone who tasted so much success as a wildcard in 2016. Leo can ride a big, meaty barrel though; mark my words. Let's see some redemption!

 

Outliers

Italo Ferreira

Italo was unlucky not to get the sleeper pick. However, anyone who remembers his 2015 backside air will probably agree that he's not a true sleeper at this event. Italo has been surfing well all season and most of his losses have been narrow ones. Could this be his event?

Vasco Ribeiro

Vasco's 3rd in 2015 came at the hands of guys like Flores, Bourez, Adriano and Owen. The conditions are a little bigger this year, but Ribeiro's a local; I'm sure he knows how to surf it overhead.

Filipe Toledo

Just because he's in the draw doesn't mean he's going to be 100%.

Mason Ho

Anyone who tells you that they can predict Mason's behaviour is lying. A true wildcard.

Conner Coffin

We've largely ignored him because his data is limited to one sample, but his 2nd place last year can't simply be ignored. Just ask Jordy...

 

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

Another hit of 3-way friendly fire in H12.

 

FS team

The algorithm for this event favoured a lot of top seeds, which are obviously unaffordable. The surfers that I could afford look decent enough...

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.

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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.


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