Snake Says: “Wilko Won’t Win The World Title”
The former world tour veteran tips John John to take lead in Tahiti and not look back.
Matt Wilkinson will not win the world title, John John Florence will take the Gold Jersey in Tahiti, and the title will be decided by a three horse race from hereon in. These are the predictions of former World Tour veteran, 1998 Pipe Master and leading world tour pundit, Jake ‘The Snake’ Paterson in the lead up to the Teahupoo World Tour contest, beginning this week.
“No, I don’t,” he replied to Stab when asked whether he thinks Wilko can hold onto the leader’s jersey and win the title, adding, “I’d like to think (he can win) but I’ve just got a feeling John will go to first after Tahiti. Trestles, Gabs (Medina) is absolutely phenomenal out there, John is getting better. I just don’t think (Wilkos’) got the air game to win at Trestles,” he says.
Wilko’s record at the wave isn’t great, managing no better than a 13th in his six starts there. His job will only get harder due to his number one seed, which will pit him against a Chopes specialist who’s made a habit of taking down big names.
“Chopes and Pipe are the hardest wild cards you can get. It’s not really the best place to be the number on seed,” says Snake.
His opponents in the title race are also two of the best in the world at Chopes.
“I don’t think (Wilko) will ever pull back but I don’t think he has the ability of those guys (John John and Medina). In saying that I’m a firm believer that if you play your cards right you can be there at the end,” says Snake.
The forecast suggests medium-sized Chopes, which will be within the means of every competitor on tour. Anything over six foot, however, still has the potential to punish, says Snake, who competed there several times in his career.
“It’s the same for everyone: you gotta paddle three meters deeper than what you think you can make and you just gotta make sure you’re coming out…”
“Chopes is all about wave selection. There’s definitely ones you think you can make and you’ve got a chance of getting a big score. Then there’s just silly waves that you can’t make but the adrenaline takes over and people are yelling in the channel and you get carried away and people are egging you on, and it can break your board, you can’t come out, you get washed through, that’s how you lose your heat,” he says.
The secret to Wilko’s success so far has been self-belief, says Snake, something he puts down to the work he’s been done with Micro.
“Micro’s played a huge part to get his confidence up to beating whoever he’s surfing against.
“He beat Julian (in Newcastle) needing a 9.5 in the last ten minutes and he got a 9.5. That used to never happen. He used to not believe that he could actually do that. Now he believes he can get himself out of every situation with his ability instead of doubting himself. I just really love the confidence that Micro has given him.”
The road doesn’t get any easier post-Tahiti, with Trestles and France the next two events, both strong points for John John and Medina.
“They’re the three title race contenders,” he says.
“You gotta be so versatile, but we’ve seen it happen. He went back to back and then made the Fiji final. I’d love to see nothing more than Matty win the world title but I think it’s a long shot,” he says.
Coming soon: “Why Wilko Will Win The World Title”…
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