Fantasy surfing moves to the Billabong Rio Pro

Well, we’ve had a month off since the last ASP World Tour contest, but that break ends when the Billabong Rio Pro begins its waiting period this Wednesday, May 8, and runs through May 19. The venue for the Rio Pro has moved a bit from last year, and will take place at Postinho and Arpoador. This will be the third change of venue over the last four years for this event, and that has made my job of looking at past statistics a little bit more difficult, since there are no existing stats for these surfers on these waves. That being said, I thought I would do a little bit of homework on these two breaks, and work from there to figure out who I’ll be choosing for my Fantasy Surfer team.

The main venue, Postinho, is a sandy bottom beach-break that sees regular surf, fills in on almost any swell direction, breaks both left and right, and works on either high or low tide. This break really begins to show off when it gets a bit of size on it, and there’s a small cluster of rocks on the outside that’ll get the surfers into the wave a little earlier if they’re in position. If, however, Postinho is not working, then the contest will move a few miles north to Arpoador. This wave is a left point break, but has a narrower window for swell direction, needing a solid south swell to light up. Neither of these waves is like the specialty waves on tour: Bells, Teahuupo, Tavarua, Indo, or Pipe. Instead, this wave runs like the European leg and West Coast stops of the tour, with sand bottoms that are not stationary, but move around with the tides and swells, and in doing so create shifting peaks and varied sections. So, look for the guys who excel in the beachy, disjointed surf to put on a good show, the guys who can get vertical quick or punt an air on demand — the scrappers.

The Fantasy Surfer rules are the same: you get $50,000,000 to create a team of eight surfers and one alternate, with each of the surfers having varying dollar amounts assigned to them based on their current ranking. This is the third event of the year, so all rankings are predicated on the last two contests. Here are my picks for the 2013 Billabong Rio Pro:

Adriano de Souza ($10,000,000): De Souza is my number one pick for this contest. First off, he’s Brazillian so he has the “home field” advantage. He came up in these waves, and that knowledge is going to serve him very well. But that home advantage extends beyond the venue to include the crowd also. The Brazo fan base rivals that of the Hawai’ians and the Aussies, and he’s going to be gunning hard to deliver a win on home turf. Second, de Souza is coming off a huge win at Bells, where he beat current number two, Mick Fanning, as well as beating a reinvigorated Jordy Smith. Not only that, but De Souza won the Rio Pro in 2011, and has a fifth place from last year, a ninth in 2010, and a second place in 2009. When you combine the momentum of the recent win with his historical showing, and then tack on his local wave knowledge and homeland support, I think de Souza is going to be hard to beat.

Kelly Slater ($11,750,000): Though Slater is currently the points leader, I was dead set on putting Joel Parkinson in my number two spot. But the beach-break waves kept me thinking of Slater slogging it out in all those Floridian waves. So, I flipped a coin. Heads won, and Slater got the spot. The guy knows what to do in waves like this. Aside from sitting out last year’s contest with an injury, losing in Round Three to Bobby Martinez in 2011 by 0.04 points, Slater gets results. He won it in 2009 and took second in 2010.

Josh Kerr ($8,500,000): My mid-tier guys begin with Kerzy. The waves on hand, big, powerful beach-break are just what Kerr needs to unleash his down-the-line attack and aerial assault. And if Kerr keeps building on his result (he made the quarters in 2011 and the semis in 2012) then this could be the year he makes the final.

Jordy Smith ($7,250,000): I mentioned above that Jordy is reinvigorated, and I truly believe that. If you watched him in the last contest then odds are you believe that too — he just barely lost out to De Souza in the semi-finals. Smith is building momentum, and I feel he knows this could be a solid year for him. He’ll be looking for a result in Rio to move him from the current number seven spot (only 3500 points behind Slater, who is sitting at number one) to a top four, title-race spot

Felipe Toledo ($4,500,000): This is Toledo’s first year on the ASP World Tour too, and already he’s sitting in the top ten. Like De Souza, Toledo is another Brazillian who will be looking to show big for the home crowd. In the last contest, Toledo took out fellow Brazo wunderkind, Gabriel Medina, two-time World Champion, Mick Fanning, and former champ, C.J. Hobgood, on his way to a fifth place finish. I’m hoping for something big from him.

Nat Young ($4,250,000): Did you see Nat during the last contest? Wow! Sure, he’s new to the ASP World Tour, but he ran house like he was an old pro. Finishing second at Bells ratcheted him up to fifth in points, and like John John Florence last year, Young could make a run for the title in his inaugural year. Furthermore, I think his growing up surfing Steamer Lane is going to benefit him, as the waves at Postinho seem to have similar characteristics.

Raoni Monteiro ($3,500,000): With dwindling funds, Raoni made it into my bottom tier based on two things: his incredible, giant-slayer heat where he beat defending World Champion Joel Parkinson last contest, and that he is another Brazo. Just like with De Souza and Toledo, I think Monteiro will benefit greatly from local knowledge and local support.

Yadin Nicol ($1,500,000)*: Nicol missed requalifying for the World Tour this year by one heat last year, but has secured an alternate position in this contest due to both Freddy Patacchia and John John Florence withdrawing with injuries. Because of his own shoulder injury, Nicol hasn’t surfed a contest since the Pipe Masters last December, where he posted one of the only perfect ten point rides — Kelly Slater and Dane Reynolds scored the other two. Nicol is going to want to get a solid result here, and he has all the motivation in the world to do so. *As of this writing, the wildcards have not been announced for the contest. Depending on who gets a berth, I may end up replacing Nicol.

The usual suspects, Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning, could easily sneak by to upset my roster. Parko took second at last year’s Rio Pro, made the quarters in 2011, and the semis in 2009. Fanning made it to the semis last year, and the quarters in 2009. Also, keep an eye out for Julian Wilson and Gabriel Medina. Wilson made it to the quarters last year, and although Medina was knocked out in Round Two last year, he is in the same boat with the rest of the Brazillians with the home turf/crowd advantage. Furthermore, both Wilson and Medina have an incredible aerial game, which should come into play heavily in the Postinho beach-break.

The surf forecast is calling for some solid activity for the first couple of days of the waiting period, with possible double overhead surf for Wednesday.  After that, the swell is predicted to drop 2-3 feet each day over Thursday and Friday, with a diminished waist to chest swell on Saturday, so we could see the majority of the contest run in the first three days. Remember, since we’ve moved from Australia to South America we’re going to see a lot less of a time difference for this contest. Rio is only one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time, which means their 8:00 a.m. Wednesday is our 7:00 a.m. So, if you have the day off, grab a big bowl of corn flakes and settle in for some action. If you have to work, remember that you can use the “heat recap” option on the Billabong site to catch up on everything you may have missed.

Lastly, I want to announce the arrival of a new little grom to the world – my son, Lando. I look forward to plopping him down with me this Wednesday, and watching his reaction as I hoot and holler at the TV. If my team doesn’t do well, he may have to rock me while I cry for a change. And, as always, if you’re on Fantasy Surfer, look for me as “RCBacot,” give me a shout, and let’s discuss whose team is killing it.

www.fantasysurfer.com
www.wctbrasil.com/rio13
www.aspworldtour.com

Bo Bacot grew up surfing up and down the Grand Strand.  For 25 years, he would sneak in a session whenever he could: before and after school, lunch breaks from work, weekends, weekdays, whenever.  Now that he’s moved back to Tennessee to further his education, Bo thinks about the ocean perhaps more than he ever did when it was in his backyard.  If asked, Bo will proudly proclaim that he is the best surfer living in Knoxville, TN.

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