Hawaii is done and dusted, and the reality of the 2023 tour doesn’t quite resemble that which we imagined. Just have a quick look at the rankings:
Australians Jack Robinson and Molly Picklum wear the Yellow Jerseys (along with ‘Riss) after a near-flawless Hawaiian leg.
Filipe leaves Hawaii – yes, Hawaii – with a 90% win ratio and a Sunset title.
Joao and Leo have bounced back from relegation with a vengeance.
Meanwhile, John sits at 7th in the world after a 5th and 9th respectively, Gabe hasn’t bettered a 9th-place finish, Kelly sits just above the relegation line in this, his ‘Olympic Qualifying’ season, while Steph sits below the cut at 11th.
At least Zeke knew how to stick to the script.
What does this all mean? With 3 events and one throw-away between us and the mid-season cut, not much. It makes for a tough fantasy climate, though.
For shits and giggles, we’ve projected the Olympic men’s teams to paddle out at Teahupo’o next July if the tour was somehow plunged into 2001-style suspension. This is according to the WSL’s information stating that “the first 18 (10 men and 8 women) will qualify via the 2023 WSL Championship Tour’s final rankings”.
Australia: Jack Robinson (Ethan Ewing is next at 11th)
Brazil: Filipe Toledo & Joao Chianca
Italy: Leo Fioravanti
USA: Griffin Colapinto & John John Florence
What do you think? Could a revived Joao shrug off his 2022 cut to win the Gold Medal?
Anyway, enough Olympic prognostication; let’s look at stop #3 on the fantasy tour.
When it comes to Portugal, there are a couple of things that your fantasy team (and our metrics) can take for granted: this event will be run at a beach break that offers both left- and right-hand options, it will be COLD, especially compared to Hawaii, AND it will reward surfers with fine-tuned barrel skills and/or flared-out end-section manoeuvres (based on previous scoring and successes).
Also, like most events of the previous in Europe, Portugal will require surfers to roll with the moods of the break, with wind, tide, and swell likely to vary throughout the scheduled event window. In fact, Portugal’s tide and condition changes across days or even afternoons have always tested surfers’ ability to adapt.
If you dig on any of the WSL’s deeper analyses of each break, Surfline have an ultra-detailed Mechanics of Supertubos article available, while the WSL have a good Break Breakdowns with Tiago Pires and Kelly gives us another one of his visions overviews. There’s plenty there to make you an armchair expert on the break in no time.
For those who prefer to pick by instinct or don’t dig on hyperlinks, the WSL guide gives us this:
The event’s main site, Supertubos, is a pumping sandbar that offers left and right barrels, plus great launch sections when the size stays in check. Some of the tour’s most skilled progressive surfers (read: Toledo, Ferreira, Medina, and more) make the most of the break’s launchpads when tubes aren’t an option, or sometimes find both on one wave.
It’s worth remembering that the event is semi-mobile, with back-up venues such as Pico do Fabril, Pico da Mota and Piscinas available if needed. Like all events this year, Portugal is a combined men’s/women’s event, meaning there will be a little to-and-fro between hold/run days/rounds over the course of the waiting period.
The official forecast is NOT up, but surf forecasting doesn’t begin and end with the WSL (or Surfline). At this early stage, it looks like the event window will begin with plenty of swell, but unfavourable winds. The WSL may hold off for a day or two while they wait for things to improve closer to the weekend. Thankfully, it looks like the swell could stick around.
We will update with more detail when the official forecast drops.
Sophie McCulloch (AUS) will finally make her official CT debut as a rookie after an injury sidelined her for the first two events of the season in Hawaii.
Fellow 2023 rookie Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) is still recovering from an injury and will be replaced by Carlos Munoz (CRC).
Jadson Andre (BRA) has also pulled out of the event due to injury and will be replaced by former CT surfer and French tube pig Joan Duru.
Portugal will be represented by Teresa Bonvalot (POR), injury replacement for Johanne Defay (FRA), and event wildcards Frederico Morais (POR) and Yolanda Hopkins (POR).
Gatien Delahaye (FRA), WAS MEANT to take a wildcard spot as the highest-rated Challenger Series surfer from WSL Europe, but is now injured and is replaced by current European Qualifying Series #1, Tiago Carrique (FRA).
With the Seeding/Elimination round format of recent years, R1 heat draws have become less and less important for pre-event fantasy analysis. That said, it’s always good to see the seeding, the draw, and the match-ups.
Meo Pro Portugal Sortable Metrics
All data drawn from the 2013-2022 seasons. Blank fields indicate no available data.
Win %= percentage of heats won for given criteria
AHS = average heat score for given criteria
Beach = metrics for events surfed at beach breaks
L/R= metrics for events surfed at contest breaks offering both left- and right-hand waves
4-6’= metrics for heats when waves were deemed to be in the 4-6′ range
Italo Ferreira – the only current tour surfer with two event wins here. He has an unrivalled win percentage in Portugal. He’s made 3 finals in the past 5 events here, and never finished lower than 13th.
John John Florence – surprisingly good metrics for beach breaks (he has won Rio twice), as well as wave size and L/R direction averages. Good average at this event too. Solid option.
Jordy Smith – metrics are solid, without being amazing. Lower seed/price makes him appealing though.
Kelly Slater – yeah, he’s a risk. But he sniffs out a barrel like few others, and he almost always manages to squeeze through a few heats out here.
Zeke Lau – I know I’m being cruel, but he just screams mid-season cut at this stage. His numbers here aren’t great, either.
Frederico Morais – you’d think a local kid with plenty of tour experience would be a good option, but his metrics tell a different story; an event win percent of only 50 across 7 appearances, with lukewarm averages for wave type and height conditions.
Kolohe Andino –Chloe’s form alone urges you to look elsewhere. His numbers aren’t terrible, and he’s actually had two 3rds and two 5ths in his last 5 appearances here, but I just can’t recommend hime from what I’ve seen in 2023.
Ryan Callinan – Rhino has NO excellent waves and a 22% win rate at this event over 4 appearances. I don’t know why, as he usually kills it in these types of conditions. Weird.
Here’s the thing about data-driven fantasy selections: they almost always guarantee you a safe, bankable score. What they don’t earn you is a winning score, a score that is only earned through risking the popular choices with an against-the odds Sleeper.
So, just for you, we’re going to delve into the realms of subjectivity in order to find you a stab-in-the-dark-horse:
Top Seed – Kanoa is Mr Consistency here at Portugal, with 5th, 3rd, 5th, 3rd results at his last 4 appearances. In a year of upsets and disappointments, consistency is a great commodity.
Mid-Tier – Yago Dora threw down a tweaked-out FOREHAND full rotation air at Sunset. If he can boost on lefts there, then the end-sections of Supertubos should be a breeze.
Low Seed – Last year, we recommended Jackson Baker as a rookie sleeper who loves the chunky beachbreak stuff. Jacko finished with a handy 9th, including a R1 win over Jordy and a 15.43 heat total against Seth. I’m doubling down again this year.
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