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Preview: Surf Ranch Pro

I think whoever can handle the pressure the best is gonna win. That's what it'll come down to - Griffin Colapinto

Are you excited by the Surf Ranch event? Does it tickle any of your fancies? It's certainly going to be a bit of a fantasy dud as far as contest formats go, but let's turn the key on the ol' the tractor and plough through the preview regardless...

Update: I've just finished listening to the new Lipped podcast, and I'm feeling a little more psyched than I originally was towards the Pool event. Take a listen and enjoy their pre-Ranch banter.

Conditions and Forecast

The event will be held at the KS Wave Ranch, which is located at Lemoore, California. It is a 600m (2000') long and 150m (500') wide man-made lake originally built for water skiing. There is a pretty poor overview available here.

The wave is created when under-water hydrofoils run down a track at around 30 kilometres per hour (19mph), making artificial waves rise up and push across the pool. When the swell hits specific areas of the lake's bottom, the wave starts to break thanks to the influence of the contour reefs. Waves at the Surf Ranch can reportedly reach a face height of 6.5 feet, and can also be adjusted to create variations for surfers, but these seem to be fairly subtle.

Giant lateral gutters dampen the bounce-back effect that occurs on the pool walls, however it still takes three minutes for the pool surface to calm down and return to a completely static state. The nature of the wave also means that it is impossible for both the lefts and rights to be offshore at the same time.

Recently, Josh Kerr and Albee Layer were flown in as consultants to develop a greater air section, but IG footage from the past few days (there's been plenty of it) looks pretty similar to the Founders Cup wave. The SR Pro site claims that, "Since the Founders' Cup in May, the team of engineers and scientists has been hard at work tinkering, tweaking, adjusting, and fine-tuning the wave settings. That means the wave forecast at WSL Surf Ranch is looking better than ever."

You can delve further into the science of the wave here.

 

It should be noted that there are significant differences regarding the fantasy games for this event:

Firstly, there will be no head-to-head heats, meaning that wildcards and lower seeds will have no disadvantage compared to the other surfers. They only advantage the top seeds will gain is that they will surf their first two runs after the lower-seeded surfers, meaning they get to gauge the judging preferences before surfing their first waves.

Secondly, the exact format of scoring hasn't been explained in detail. At this point, the WSL game is still locked out from selecting a team, and once it opens, we have no idea how the scoring will work. We do know that the scoring for Fantasy Surfer will remain unchanged, as Groundswell, the fantasiser-in-chief at FS, confirmed:

We are going to score everybody from places 1 through 36. We can't change our scoring system for one event, so we will just leave it as is and people will score 1 through 36 for the men and 1 through 18 for the women. Same point system, it just won't make as much sense for this event.

What will this mean? Well, since places 9-36 for the men, and 5-18 for the women will be decided simultaneously after each surfer's 3rd run, the difference between a 123 point score (9th) and a 47 point score (25th) could come down to less than a point in combined wave scores. The gravity of a 6.7 compared to a 6.3 will be particularly strong for this event.

Finally, this event won't have a regular waiting period. We know when it will start, we know when it will end, and we know what the conditions will be like (mostly. The wind will have some impact on the quality of the barrels). Not that it stopped Surfline from mocking up a forecast.

At least you won't have to sit through any morning calls or lay days...

Injuries/Wildcards

Surfers OUT:

Tyler Wright - Tyler just confirmed via Twitter that she will not surf the event "due to on going (sic) illness". No replacement has been announced just yet. Macy will replace her (see below). If history has taught us anything about injuries to the Wright family, it won't be long before nose beer rumours start circulating...

John John Florence -  John looked disinterested at the Founders Cup. He is still apparently recovering from his air injury from Bali, but is somehow dropping a video edit soon. We don't know how either.

Caio Ibelli - Stab's Morgan Williamson opined that Caio would pull the short straw regarding a wildcard spot in 2019. This is very shitty news indeed for the young Brazilian, who is still recovering from an injury sustained nearly 6 moths ago.

Surfers IN:

Mikey Wright - Mikey currently sits at No. 11 on the Jeep Leaderboard, and has been awarded a(nother) wildcard entry into the SR Pro. This will be Wright’s seventh appearance on the CT this season and, with two SF finishes so far this year, he’s close to qualifying already.

Kelly Slater - He wouldn't dare miss his own event, and will probably field very few questions regarding his on-again-off-again foot injury.

Miggy Pupo - Miggy again replaces Caio based on his 2017 results. He is looking for his 2nd heat win in his 6th event of the season.

Wiggolly Dantas - Wiggs replaces JJF, making the SR Pro his 4th event for the season.

Hiroto Ohhara - Hiroto has earned his place  to compete at the pool after winning the Hurley Trials last week. Ohhara is currently ranked 27th on the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) following his recent victory at the Vans Pro QS 3,000, his first since winning the 2015 Vans US Open.

Bethany Hamilton - Bethany will rejoin the tour as a wildcard at the SR Pro. The contest marks her first event back after giving birth to her son, Wesley, in March of this year.

Macy Callaghan - Macy replaced the injured Tyler, earning her 6th start in a contest this season (like Miggy, she's only won 1 heat in her 5 starts).

 

Heat Draws

No official draw yet, but I guess that's irrelevant considering the format (see below). As far as we know, the lowesr seeds will surf their runs first, with Filipe and Stephanie the final surfers to take their runs (before reseeding prior to Run 3). Basically, all surfers will get 6 waves - 3 left and 3 right - with their best left and right making up their total for the qualifying rounds. The top-scoring 8 men and 4 women from the qualifying rounds will then surf another 6 waves, with their best left/right total deciding the winner.

 

 

History

Results

Nothing to see here.

This is the first time that a WCT event has been held at the KSWC pool, so a detailed table of results won't be necessary.

It's worth noting that Jordy, Kanoa, Michel, Paige and Bianca won the Founders Cup as the world team. With Jordy a particular stand-out in the rights. Look at the metrics below for more details from that event.

For what it matters, the results at the semi-secretive Future Classic test event almost 12 months ago were as follows:

Men- 1st Gabriel Medina (BRA), 2nd Filipe Toledo (BRA), 3rd Adrian Buchan (AUS), 4th Kanoa Igarashi (USA - pre-switch)

Women- 1st Carissa Moore (HAW), 2nd Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 3rd Tyler Wright (AUS), 4th Johanne Defay (FRA)

Metrics

We've had to be a little creative here, but we've done the best we can for a relatively untested venue/format.

SR Pro Metrics

Key:
HWP = Heat Win Percentage for all heats won from 2013-18
AHS = Average Heat Score for all heats 2013-18
2018 HWP = HWP for current season
2018 AHS = AHS for current season
EAWS = Event Average Wave Score (using metrics from Founders' Cup event)
E.Waves = Number of scored waves at this venue/event
1-4' = AHS for heats surfed in wave heights of 1-4'
Left/Right = AHS for heats surfed in waves offering both left- and right-hand waves
Pool L = Average WAVE score on Lefts at the Surf Ranch
Pool R = Average WAVE score on Rights at the Surf Ranch
Pool = Average WAVE for all waves at the Surf Ranch
Proj AWS = Projected Average Wave Score for this event
Proj Place = Projected final result for this event
SurferWin %AHS2018 win%2018 AHSEAWSE.Waves1-4'Left/RightPool LPool RPoolProj AWSProj Place
Gabriel Medina66.4113.5268.5712.568.36813.9114.347.798.948.367.581
Jordy Smith59.2112.9962.512.67.97914.5914.118.167.817.977.382
Kelly Slater59.8113.7462.510.247.34813.9313.047.247.447.346.864
Filipe Toledo55.5613.1771.0513.177.23714.8813.87.197.297.237.093
Griffin Colapinto6011.966011.9614.136.345
Adriano de Souza56.112.9453.3311.836.95814.0213.6676.896.956.756
Julian Wilson58.412.4272.9711.4513.8912.986.347
Italo Ferreira55.1712.1567.5712.3714.2613.026.478
Mikey Wright57.8912.1960.6111.9312.146.049
Willian Cardoso58.5411.663.6410.9613.075.9410
Joel Parkinson55.0412.895611.985.62613.8612.454.36.945.626.0111
Owen Wright51.513.1159.3811.6913.5612.876.412
Kolohe Andino48.612.3361.2911.27.29812.8312.698.346.237.296.7113
Jeremy Flores44.6812.758.6212.198.02613.9212.177.878.178.027.214
Michel Bourez50.2211.7561.7612.156.11812.8511.256.75.536.116.0615
Michael Rodrigues52.9410.3952.9410.3911.595.3916
Adrian Buchan46.3412.2757.5811.2711.9612.47617
Frederico Morais46.9112.115010.865.77613.2112.235.995.565.775.9118
Yago Dora45.9510.7346.439.9212.314.235.919
Connor O'Leary45.4511.6646.4311.1712.2611.585.8320
Hiroto Ohhara503.436013.8213.825.1821
Sebastian Zietz41.9511.8946.4310.4312.4412.265.8822
Jesse Mendes42.4211.4844.8311.5511.5411.655.7823
Matt Wilkinson4511.0146.4310.264.97712.7711.375.44.44.975.3124
Ezekiel Lau41.2711.2854.5510.5112.6411.775.7825
Kanoa Igarashi43.6910.5848.2810.995.1812.4911.873.86.45.15.4226
Wade Carmichael47.2210.653.1310.7811.7964.927
Joan Duru36.9211.9442.8610.9513.5412.456.1128
Conner Coffin40.5710.553.139.8812.0711.575.529
Wiggolly Dantas36.5911.3152.9411.3613.1711.295.8930
Patrick Gudauskas39.5810.1446.438.9412.111.625.3531
Tomas Hermes41.039.5348.399.0210.9711.725.1532
Ian Gouveia39.6610.5842.869.3910.911.355.2833
Miguel Pupo37.3610.747.628.6212.711.715.4734
Keanu Asing34.4110.2444.449.6911.6110.815.2935
Michael February38.719.0544.448.7810.244.6836

 

Selection Notes

Conditions Picks

Gabriel Medina - Gabe's a stand-out here, with a win in the Future Classic, the highest average wave score at the Founders' Cup, and solid metrics across most relevant fields. Gabe is our favourite for this event.

Jordy Smith - Jordy surprised many with his performance at the F.Cup this year. He scored particularly well on the left, and finished 3rd overall across AWS data for the event. Jordy's biggest surprise is that he has the 2nd highest AHS in 1-4' waves on tour. Who knew?

Filipe Toledo - Filipe rounds out our trifecta of favourites for this event, with the best 1-4' AHS on tour, solid F.Cup data, and a great average in left/right venues. We expect to see Filipe in a lot of fantasy teams.

Conditions Warnings

Matt Wilkinson - Matt looked poor at the F.Cup, and his performance in the tie-break round all-but single-handedly cost the Australian team a finals berth. He had the lowest AWS of the men across his 7 waves at the Ranch.

Wade Carmichael - Wade cops the double-whammy of having low averages in 1-4' waves and left/right breaking venues. His data is still pretty limited though, and he has been known to surprise his doubters, so maybe he could prove the numbers wrong.

Conner Coffin - We could have thrown a bunch of names at you such as Mendes, February or Hermes, but Conner gets the spot because he has more significant data behind his numbers. Of the non-rookie, full-time tour surfers, Connor has the bleakest projected outlook.

 

Form Picks

Filipe Toledo - Are you surprised that the #1 ranked surfer in the world has some excellent form? Filipe has only finished worse than the QFs once this year, with his 13th at Bells. He also has the highest AHS for the season, and a HWP of 71%.

Kanoa Igarashi - In the past two moths, Kanoa has finished 3rd at J-Bay, won the US Open, and surprised many with a respectable 9th at Tahiti.

Wade Carmichael - The metrics may not back him, but there's no denying his hot form this year. Two finals in his rookie year this far, and a 2nd and 5th in his last two events. Griffin who?

Steph Gilmore - Are you kidding me? Two 5ths are her worst results for the season, and she's made 4 out of the 7 finals this season (winning 3). For reference, Lakey has also made 4 finals (with 2 event wins), and yet she's still more than 5000 points behind Gilmore.

Form Warnings

Miguel Pupo - Miggy hasn't really converted his chances this season, with only a single heat win in 5 events and the worst AHS on tour (8.62). Miguel will need some QS magic if he wants to see the tour from anywhere but Facebook in 2019.

Ian Gouveia - Ian's year has been fairly lean, with a HWP of a little more than 42, and a season AHS of below 10.

Patrick Gudauskas - After a stellar run of form at Bells, Pat has managed 11 straight heat losses, giving him the worst run of form on tour coming into the SR Pro.

Paige Hareb - Paige was solid at the F.Cup event, but in tour events she is still winless for the season.

 

Sleepers

2018 has seen some left-field, dark-horse selections do well. Are you prone to a risky flutter in the hope of mining gold? Or do you play things safe and stick to the numbers? Here's our indefensible list of contrary selections:

High End - Gabe and Filipe pick themselves. Actually, I can't see any reason to suggest a high-end sleeper for this event. If you must be contrary though, Italo is an unknown out here, and he certainly possesses the bag of tricks needed to do well.

Mid Range - Michael Rodrigues is a smooth MF, and he could just fly under the radar for fantasy selectors at this event.

Low - Wiggolly knows where to hit a lip in order to throw maximum spray. This could warrant your consideration if you think the judges care about rail surfing at this event.

Outliers

There's always a few surfers who represent some kind of anomaly within our selection analyses. Maybe there are factors that a spreadsheet can’t detect, or maybe their recent form simply contradicts their previous averages.

Wave Pool Rookies - For many surfers, this is a completely untested environment. Our data is very limited, so there are a lot of unknowns as far as surfers' success or failure at this event. The WSL has an interview with Griffin and covers this very fact here.

Judging - What will the judges reward? Will they tire of alley-oops? Will they still reward those soft safety turns that reduce the chance of blowing waves? I hope they low-ball from the start and push the surfers to get creative. Cahill claimed that judges will be looking for major manoeuvres (quality over quantity) and punishing manufactured entries into the barrel (stalls) on the Lipped podcast, so hopefully this will encourage surfers to take risks and focus on flow.

Fitness - Surfers will ride a performance wave for 50 seconds, then, after 3 minutes, turn around and surf at their peak for another 50s in the opposite direction. Have you ever surfed a 50s wave? These guys will be testing their athleticism.

Aussies - The Surfing Australia National Squad had a three-day "Olympic Readiness Camp" at the KSWC in late June, with Owen Wright, Matt Wilkinson, Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Bronte Macaulay, Nikki Van Dijk, Macy Callaghan, Adrian Buchan, Keely Andrew, Connor O’Leary, Nikki Van Dijk and Wade Carmichael all logging some serious pool time with coaches and support crew by their side. Will this help? It certainly can't hurt.

Julian Wilson - Did you notice his name was absent from the list above? Julian only surfed the Ranch for the first time this week. His IG clips have looked promising, but it's his post-Tahiti competitive confidence that has me more concerned.

 

Fantasy Surf Sessions

Did you sign up in time to get the email last week? We're positively frothing on launching our first contest in a few weeks, and we're even more psyched on some of the prizes we have on offer.

Right now we're still running our in-house testing, but the site will be ready to open up to subscribers very soon (see below).

Sign up now if you haven't already, and help create the best surfing fantasy game possible.

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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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