Who You Should, And Shouldn't Expect To See On A Podium In Tahiti
Stab's reasonably sound predictions for the Billabong Pro, Tahiti.
J-Bay was everything we hoped it would be and more. That event will go down as one of the best in the history of surfing – which they say every time the surf is good – but all the excitement beyond the hi-fi surfing and pumping waves, was thrilling. Now what goes up must come down, and we’re going to come down in Tahiti. The forecast sucks. My general rule of thumb when reading the WSL forecast is take it and divide by two, because it would be very bad for business if it was accurate. Now for Tahiti, I’m going back to my original way of picking and not trying to fit it into a 50 brick budget. Here’s who I think might hit a bit of form, and who wont.
Gabriel Medina for the win.
Gabs is pretty due for a win and we all know he’s a weapon in Fiji and Tahiti. No one wants to admit it, but it’s true. He’s got that Bobby/Hobgood approach in the tube and with that stance he seldom falls pushing through a foamball. His surfing has been a bit underwhelming this year but I think this could be his breakthrough event.
Owen Wright for second place.
I don’t think this one needs too much justification, but as stoked as Owen is to be back and doing well, he wants to be in the title race come end of year. I think Owen is probably the best goofy footer in the tube, he understands what a good wave looks like out there and if it comes down to tubes and turns he’ll be able to lay down the best.
Wilko for a semi finish.
This is something I’d never usually do, but Wilko is the real deal now. Last year we all thought that would be the best year he’s had in his career, but he quickly proved it wasn’t. Like it or not, Wilko is currently one the best all round surfers on tour, and after his win at Cloudbreak his confidence will be soaring coming into small Chopes. The only thing that could get him is bad wave selection or inconsistent heats.
John John Florence also for a semi.
"Like his second home, best backside tube rider in the world blah blah." Not much I can say here that hasn’t been said, or you don’t already know. Now they're in the second half of the year and he’s sitting a few points behind Wilko – which I’m sure he never expected. So it’s crunch time and John is going to need to listen to Ross’s heat strategies and stay focused. JJF doesn’t strike me as someone that gets nervous, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. Good because it helps you hold your nerve but bad because it allows you to give up a few opportunities.
Wiggolly Dantas for a quarter.
After J-Bay Wiggolly became my least favourite surfer on tour. That claim-to-fall was disgusting and it’s one of the biggest missed opportunities I’ve ever seen. It might end up being like the butterfly effect, where one thing could set in motion a series of other bad things and for Wiggolly, that might be falling off tour. He could have got a big result at J-Bay because he tears out there, but instead got a Round two. Anyway, Wiggolly knows Chopes well and has some really good friends there. He’ll own the inside and sneak a few rounds I’m guessing, but not hoping.
Adrian Buchan for a quarter.
Past winner, great tube rider and knows how to make small Teahupoo his bitch. Ace will stay cool, make good decisions and thread the tubes well. He’s been surfing great this year and needs a decent result to move into the top ten.
Jeremy Flores for a quarter.
One of the bossiest moves in the history of surfing. Get’s banned from Tahiti and comes back the next year and wins. Always a stand out out there no matter the conditions or size. It really is Jeremy's second home and it’s the event that always turns his year around.
Jordy Smith for a quarter.
I know I know I know, you’re going to say something rude about African bias, but stay with me for a sec. We’ve seen a new side to Jordy this year. He’s amped up and really enjoying competing. Straight after winning Bells he bolted to Fiji for a swell to put in some time, then he recently just saw a swell heading to Indo, bolted to the Ments and fine tuned his backside tube riding. In Fiji he did the biggest backside snaps when it wasn’t tubing too. He’s also taking his coach, Chris Gallagher to Tahiti. So there’s that.
Then who you shouldn’t put in...
Frederico Morais and Caio Ibelli for a round 3.
They might sneak through a heat because they get it done but for some reason I can’t even picture what they look like on their backside in the tube? Probably super strange looking, right?
Jack Freestone for a round 2.
Pretty shocking when it comes to lefts, unless there’s an air wind happening. Jack has been really underwhelming on tour and I really want him to break through and do some real damage but it doesn’t seem to be happening.
Julian Wilson for a round 2.
I’m trying some reverse psychology here. Every time I say he’s going to win he loses early. Maybe if I say he’s going to lose he’ll win. If he does I hope he thanks me…
Stab will have rolling coverage of the contest, including observations from the channel by scribe Jake Howard. So don't wander far.