In the words of the girl I lost my virginity too, wow that was fast! The turn over time between El Salvador and the VIVO Rio Pro has taken everyone by surprise. We now need to get over our embarrassment, recalibrate expectations, and get ready for the next round. We’re talking about surfing now, people.

Brazil is known for its dicey conditions, in and out of the water. With death threats swirling and the forecast looking small to start, it could be a nervous wait for the end of the competition period to see what happens. Normally, choosing a bunch of trick ponies is a safe bet here, so with this in mind here are your best fantasy surfer picks for Rio 2023.


Carissa Moore –
Defending event champ who’s hot off a semi final in El Salvador, it’s hard to go past this absolute legend. Riss also hit a 2nd here in 2019, so you know she’s great at this venue. Someone who performs at 2ft to 10ft, she’s an easy pick even in Tier A. Considering it’ll be chest high in the early rounds, then well overhead for the finals, Carissa is the perfect pick to make it all the way without worrying about upsets.

The Pickle –
This Aussie gherkin has shown she has the special sauce to mix it with the Big Mac’s on tour. She’s nailed the yellow jersey at one point, has juuuuust dipped down into Tier B and loves the kind of punchy (if sometimes small) beachies that Rio is likely to serve up. The only questionmark I have is that it’s Molly’s first time at Rio, so it could be an adjustment given how wild the place is. Still, she’s in my team and therefore should be in yours too. Pick the pickle!


Johanne Defay –
Defay has had not one, but two runners up at Rio in the past. Wow. Add in the fact that she’s in tier C and you have the perfect underdog option to rack up top point tallies. A proper dark horse to take out the entire event, I’d get her in your team faster than you can say ooh la la.  


Silvana Lima –
You might be tempted to go with the local talent when it comes to Brazil, but considering Lima has been off tour for 5 years now, it’s hard to see how she’ll match it with the young guns. Sure she rips. She’s a past world #2. But those results were a long time back and I simply can’t see her doing better than Defay or Betty Lou who are in the same picking tier. Go with either of them instead.

Fantasy Surfer Guide Mexico


Filipe Toledo –
Picking Filly is never silly (except if you say that out loud to yourself). I said the same thing for El Salvador and look what happened. Winner winner, chicken Filly dinner. The guy has won Rio the last 3 years it has run too (with a 4th win back in 2015!). Hard to argue with history, hard to argue with current form. Make him your power and the sky is the limit.

Yago Dora –
For me, Yago is
the pick in Tier B you simply can’t go past. With the smaller forecast and a bag of tricks fuller than a porn star’s jocks, he’s the absolute money shot. His heat totals in past years often push into excellent and he was only stopped by a rampaging Toledo last time around. Possibly Dora’s first chance at an event win is right here.


Sammy Pupo –
I’ll give you one guess where Sammy Pupo’s best ever event result was. Pipe! Nah, just kidding, RIO 2022, baby! The guy hit a 2nd here last year with some blistering heat scores including a 9 and 8 in rnd 3. He’s the key reason I won’t have Griffin in my team this time, since in all likelihood the two will face off in 2ft waves and Sammy has a solid edge in those conditions. Don’t be surprised if his face is smiling at you from the top of his mate’s shoulders come finals day.


Matthew McGillivray –
Small opening rounds and Matty G don’t mix. He’s at his best in thumping conditions. He didn’t look the best in El Salvador either, so has me thinking there are wayyyy better options in tier B. John John and Italo to name just two. Even Conner O’Leary has better chops at this event. Put Matty on the BBQ and be done with it. 

Remember that teams now lock as soon as the event starts! So shuffle, shuffle, and get your team sorted. Good luck. Go mad.