Let’s get this straight. Surfing is an art. It’s an expression. It’s a lifestyle! It’s NOT a sport! Although I’m hugely grateful to the 70’s greatest con artists who managed to convince the world that it was, you cannot tell me that surfing is a real job. Firstly, it’s too much fun, and secondly judging one surf against another in an ever changing medium like the ocean is just stupid… and unfair and way too subjective.
But I have a confession to make…
I am unashamedly a surf jock and IT’S GAME TIME BABY!!!
The Snapper Rocks line up
Most of the WSL critics have fallen silent after a year of high quality surfing production, its been crack-a-beer, get-the-snacks good, even some of my most purest “surfing is an art form “ mates have succumbed to picking their fantasy team and signing up for uncapped internet data packages. You cannot deny how great it is to have high quality surfing on your TV with slow-mo action replays, stats and pure high def. emotion and drama as the heroes are made and crushed before our eyes!
Snapper is also such a great event to kick off the year, probably the easiest wave on tour, extremely high performance slopes that run endlessly down the very, very well known Superbank. We get to see what these guys have been doing in the off-season and who is coming to play for the big trophy.
With all this in mind, lets look at the line up, shortlist a few names that might be worth picking.
Now before you go any further, just stop what ever else you are doing and watch this.
Filipe Toledo – Snapper Rocks 2015
Ya seriously, that was as perfect as a performance I have ever seen in high performance waves. Filipe Toledo is choice numero uno.
He is my first yellow sticky note on people to watch, not just because of last year’s performance but because he DIDN’T win the world title, and his good mate Adriano did, he will believe now more than ever that he can actually do this.
My second sticky notable person to watch is Jordy Smith…. He spent the last few weeks in northern Mozambique preparing, on a very snapper like wave, which didn’t pump out 30 second tubes like his previous 2 warm-up years, which is a good thing. I think Jordy is ready to win a world title, and as stoked as he was for Adriano, I think it would have pissed him off deep down that he didn’t get one first, those two have been dueling since world junior champs and I think Jordy is going to find the consistency and opening results he has been looking for since he was runner up to Slater.
Pick 3 is John John Wunderkind…
This may seem like an obvious choice but if you look closely its not really, JJF hasn’t got a great track record on point breaks, he is incredible in short punchy beachies, hollow pits, lefts and rights, Pipe, Backdoor, Chopes… Waimea… Not many flaws, except putting a string of turns together heat after heat at snapper, which he hasn’t really done that yet… which makes me thinks it’s probably next on his list of ridiculously well rounded skills. And I’m such a huge fan.
John John Florence
New dad, obvious choice at snapper, entering the twilight of his career but this event is like making toast for him, eyes closed and into round 4. Maybe not as strong a contender to win the event as he used to be, but he is going to be a safe bet for some solid points.
Who knows these days with The Champ, Kelly Slater, I definitely think he has more wins in him, and the losing streak he is on must come to an end at some point. Besides, he has probably been hanging out at his perfect wave pool all day, learnt how to do 900’s and other things we cant even imagine.
Kolohe Andino has never been a favourite of mine, but towards the back half of last year he finally started looking like he belonged in the men’s division and not the juniors. I reckon he could be a top 5 guy in 2016.
Conner Coffin is my favourite new kid on the block, so refreshing to have a new face on tour that didn’t get there by helicopter (lots and lots of full rotation airs). I am so sick of those airs and this kid has real rail game and his style and stance are awesome enough to make Curren feel tingly inside. He is in my team because I really wish he does well. That, and he grew up at Rincon.
Seabass is back! The peoples champ! I think Seb can shred, I feel like he is a top 10 surfer, and I feel like the world is rooting for him and maybe he has enough experience to let his surfing shine now.
Gabs Medina caught fire in the last six events of the year, finishing in the quarters or better in every event. Had he won the title, it would have been one of the best come from behind title victories the pro tour has ever seen. I think he has three or five world titles in him and 2016 could easily be number two. Previous winner of the Goldy.
Gabriel Medina will be looking for more victories in 2016
Bianca Buitendag, what a year she had last year. Wow, incredible triumph over life’s adversity. I don’t care about any girl on Championship Tour other than B. Go B Go! Bring home the title.
Other notable mentions, Mikey Wright, an incredible amount of media generated his way recently and we will he live up to the hype? Jack Freestone? How much WQS have you watched? Me neither, looking forward to seeing what he has for us. Don’t be an idiot and count Fanning out, he is going to try re-qualify in four events this year, namely Snapper, Bells, J-Bay and Pipe. Mick is going to be swinging for the fences to make it count. Matt Wilko just won his first event in a good while, so his confidence will be high and his backside is one of the best in the business.
Bear in mind the waves are probably not going to be perfect 20 second draining barrels like the last six weeks have been, early forecasts are not registering any cyclonic activity off the coast and swell periods look low, so it evens the odds out a little I think.
So if you’re looking for a reason to put some chaps into your fantasy team, those were mine. Love it or hate it, competition surfing has never been healthier and such a pleasure to watch. At the end of the day, even if you have to mute the drone of commentator voices and imagine they are not wearing vests, its just great surfing in great waves, and what’s not to love about that!