El Salvador. The land of volcanoes. It seems a fitting venue for the next stop on tour considering all the blow ups erupting about scoring in the paddle pool. That extra heat could boil over during competitions. Will Gabriel go god mode, only to be cooked by the judges? Will Italo land a full rotator, only to be told it wasn’t a make? Will muffins be thrown at the tower? One can only hope the drama is as spectacular as the surfing.

This is the second year running we’re at this venue, so there is some history to draw on for your picks, which is epic. Momentum is another consideration when choosing some wild stallions for your stable. There’s also the added pressure that your teams lock in as soon as the hooter goes for round one. Ohhhhh yes! No second chances here. With that front-of-mind, here’s your best fantasy surfer picks El Salvador 2023…


Steph Gilmore –
Defending event champ sitting in Tier B? You bloody bewty. Considering the difficulty picking between three right-hand shredders in Tier A, this one should be an easy win for you. Steph has all the slices and dices to make finals again, will be hungry to cement her place in the top 5 and will be raring to tear in El Salvador. Even better, not a left in sight. She might not be an ambi-turner, but in forehand waves Steph is so hot right now. Get her on the catwalk.  

Johanne Defay-
It has been a slow crawl back to form for Johanne, but she’s finally up and sprinting. Surfing on all cylinders at the wave pool, she was unlucky not to make it into the final four. With a semis showing last time in El Salv, and a Tier C seed, it’s hard to think of a better pick to have in your women’s team. Viva La Jo Jo!


The Pickle –
It’s hard to call someone who was recently in the yellow jersey a dark horse, but here I am calling Molly my Black Beauty. Her precision on her forehand has been phenomenal this year. Molly also has the ability to take to the skies and really throw the rotator amongst the pigeons. The reason she’s an underground option is that you’d have to choose her against Carrissa and Tyler who have both been incredible form this year. Your safe bet is Riss, but if you want to take a punt, go with the punting Pickle!


Leilani McGonagle –
Professor McGonagle would be a sentimental pick for Harry Potter fans but I doubt she’ll be pulling any wizardry at this event. Even in tier C it’s hard to see her value. You have Johanne as a key player who could win the entire thing, and Bettylou who could easily shred to the semis. Sorry Prof, but I’m going for more seasoned students.


Filipe Toledo –
Picking Filly is never silly (except if you say that out loud to yourself). Still, it’s true. Having the defending world champ and last year’s runner up in your team, in anywhere between 2-6ft rights, is always a good idea. With the fire lit under him about the results in the pool, you can be sure he’ll come out all cannons blazing. Double him up for double the fun.

Double John –
This is all the explanation I need to give. Good god.


Kanoa Igarashi –
Kanoa’s incredible surfing at the last event was totally overshadowed by the Brazilian Hurricane. Crazy that he didn’t even make the final 8! However, Kanoa always does his best surfing in punchy rights with walls. J-Bay. Keramas. El Salvador. He made quarters here last year and was beaten on a total of 16.2 by the eventual contest winner, Griffin. I’m tipping he’ll be going at least a couple of results better this time, maybe even his first win for 2023.


Bryan Perez –
It might seem that it’s an easy call to tell you to ditch the wildcards for this event. Well, it kind of is. Considering they’ll both be against the likes of Carrissa or Griffin, it would be a huge call to expect they’ll do any better than a round 3 exit. Bryan does surf great, but he simply can’t match it against a rampaging Gryffindor for the house cup. That’s two Harry Potter references in one form guide about surfing. My work here is done.

On that note, lock your teams! Good luck. Go mad.