Will the yellow jersey evade Jules in 2019? Photo: WSL
Why Julian Wilson And Lakey Peterson (Probably) Won't Win A World Title This Year
History repeats itself and data rarely lies.
One event's in the bin and title predictions are raining like beer cans from Komune's top deck.
By a matter of probability, most declarations will be wrong.
But we have waited patiently, like a hound at his master’s door, for competitors to return from their annual leave.
Therefore, we shouldn't be blamed for our eagerness to lay down wild, negligent predictions that inflate egos and threaten careers. It's only natural.
But instead of tossing theories out there with no real reason, here are some data-driven takeaways from the Quik Pro and World Tour History:
Julian is done in 2019. Lakey too.
Jules now resides in seventeenth place. In the past 26 years, only one world title winner – Occy in ’99 – has sat that deep after stop one. Further, and as reported previously, Julian’s stats don’t scream ‘World Title’ when compared to champions of the past.
His case is not helped by recent defeats from two wildcards and a rookie. There are few instances in recent history of World Champions burning throwaway results in their home nation’s waters.
Look no further than last season. One of Julian’s two first-place finishes was at the Quiksilver Pro – an event held a two hours drive from where he grew up.
Home contests need to count.
I wish it were different. I like the man. But due to these stats, it wouldn’t be shocking if he finished the year empty-handed.
And Lakey. She’s ninth. You need to rewind ten years until a title winner placed that far back on the Gold Coast. But that winner was Steph and she is capable of feats that others are not.
Plus, the women’s tour is on lockdown. Over the past twelve years, only three different women have finished number one at season’s end: Steph, Carissa, Tyler. And once you account for the seven occasions Sally has finished second or third, you realise the female tour doesn’t accommodate leisurely beginnings. Simply, there is no room for poor results.
And now to Mr. Shane Dorian.
“No kook has ever won Bells,” he remarked in ‘99.
His words were true. Continue to be true. The oldest event in the book doesn’t bestow cheap victories.
Bells Beach is a demanding animal. It requires time and effort and patience. Those unwilling are dealt an Easter laden with scratches and red marks. But demonstrate your affection and you will be rewarded. In recent times, Fanning (x4), Parkinson (x3), Slater (x3), Irons (x2), Gilmore (x4), Moore (x3), Conlogue (x2) and Fitzgibbons (x2) have all won it.
Unsurprisingly, the wave has been kindest to its natives. In the ten most recent events, Australian men have rung the bell six times, Australian women four.
It is also exceptionally favourable to those of a natural stance. Over the past thirty events, natural footed men have won twenty-five, women twenty-seven.
An appropriate segue to discuss Caroline Marks? She finished third last year. And Tatiana? She was second. Both were only narrowly dislodged by Steph on her way to the finish line.
Anomaly: only one men’s winner of Bells in the past decade – a one Mr. K. Slater in 2010 – has gone on to win that year’s title. Strange but true.
Results wise, none of the current top ten men enjoy any sort of grip over the wave. But Jordy has done well. In his eleven appearances, he’s finished top five on eight occasions, including a win in ’17. Is it any surprise? Jordy’s weighty carves don’t go unnoticed against a long Victorian wall.
But Jordy raises concerns for the astute observer. His Bells win in ’17 was his latest event victory. He’s been dry for the past two years.
Let’s zoom out a little further.
End of year rankings tell us that over the past twelve seasons, Jordy has finished top five on six occasions.
The pattern is clear.
Greek mythology tells us of Sisyphus, whose punishment it was to push a boulder up a hill for eternity. Will Jordy suffer the same fate?
On the women’s side, Steph will approach the event with the deepest well of confidence. In twelve events she’s finished top three on ten occasions. Her worst result is 5th. But don’t dismiss Carissa. She does mighty fine on that bowl too.
And who of our current top ten has most struggled with Bells Beach?
Kolohe. Clearly. In all seven efforts, he’s finished either 13th or 25th.
Sage too. But given she’s a replacement, next in line is Malia Manuel. While she hasn’t done poorly, she’s off the pace compared with the others.
Bells will soon unfold, and then be done with. And then the next event, and the event after that. This much we know for sure.