From small east-coast beachies to the thumping power of the Indian Ocean – this next WSL event is a doozie of a gear change. The tour is descending on the South West airport as I write, ready to go to battle at sea. The forecast is looking solid for the Margaret River Pro, with the first day possible conditions for the Box (or North Point if they’re allowed – edit, they’re not). Solid backup days are en route after that too.

That means it will mostly be about big carves and heaving tubes. Full rotations will be gone from most competitor’s minds, with the bigger focus on making the takeoff and not emulating Adam Melling circa 2017. Knowing what we’re in for this week, here’s your WSL Fantasy Surfer Guide Margaret River…

WOMENSTier A - The Rock from The Rock

As the saying goes among superheroes, you have to match power with power. And, is there anyone more powerful on the women’s tour right now than Carissa Moore? The only correct response is “No, Brah”. Given her form of late, and given the arena will be solid rights, it’s a pretty easy pick to put the Queen of Carve into your team as the power play. Get her in. For those second-guessing whether the other two options are worth a gamble, here’s a little carrot to dangle. Tatiana got 2nd at Margaret River last time it ran. She’s on a high from her Narrabeen final and has never been surfing better. If Caroline Marks is going to challenge Carissa for any crown, it’s likely to be in solid rights too. Definitely a couple of potential options, but nothing as steady as The Rock from The Rock. I’m going with Carissa.

In: Carissa (powered up)
Back up: Either other girl
Out: Covid.

MENSTier A - Double John Smith

It’s time for redemption.

Those four and a half words are going through John John Florence’s mind right now. Again. And again. He’s won the last two Margaret River Pros and looked absolutely unstoppable in the big year which had a similar swell to what we’re looking at now. You can bet he’s praying he draws Morgan Cibilic again to wipe the too-white smile off the rookie’s perfect face. I’m betting Double John is going to win here again.

The big question for this event isn’t whether you put John in. It’s whether you can leave Italo out. The Full Rote Mountain Goat is as steady as it gets here, having made the final series a bunch of times and being one of the few goofies at The Box to score more than donuts. Italo will be fired up after his massive stitching at Narrabeen too. He stomped that air. There I said it. He’ll be looking to stomp more than his board this time around. A definite maybe for your team.

The only thing putting doubt in my mind is the rail game of Jordan Smith. Jordy’s record here is really solid, and I just have a feeling he’ll be stinging to throw down some crazy hacks on anything he takes. He’s my sneaky pick for Tier A and depending on the draw come round 3, will likely be an inclusion in my team. That leaves the raging elephant in the room – Gabby. He’s ripping harder than Tom Carroll’s velcro boardshorts right now. Still, his history at Margies absolutely sucks. If he comes against Jacob Wilcox at North Point or The Box, it will be a backhand duel worth writing about, but one he could easily lose. Stay tuned on that front, but perhaps leave him out for safety.  

In: Double John (power surfer), Jordy Smith
Back up: Italo

WOMENSTier B - Seasoned Sea Tigers

Section B is a wild tier of talent right now. Tyler has won Margies before and will be stinging to come back from a couple of shitty results in shitty waves. Courtney Conlogue is another Margaret’s champ who lifts as the swell does too. There’s also Sally Super Shaka and 7x word champ Steph Gilmore sticking their smiling heads in the mix. Even Johanne Defay has been a dark horse assassin, with Malia Manuel ripping as a Hawaiian tribute too.

Who do you choose? I’m keeping my theme of tier A and going with pure power. Tyler will rip Margies a new hole when she gets here. Sea Tiger Conlogue is already growling in delight at the forecast. The only one in this tier I’m willing to leave out without angst is Isabella Nichols. A great talent yes, but if experience tells me anything, it’s that experience pays at Margaret River. Get the seasoned Sea Tigers in there. 

In: Tyler and Courtney
Back up: Steph and Sally
Out: Isabella

MENSTier B - Two Fingers and a Bowl Cut

Fingers Morais!

Who took my advice and put him in their team at Narrabeen? I’ll take my payment in beers thanks. Forget that I suggested Julian too. He’s dead to me. Or is he? While Freddy is definitely in my team again, Julian has me massively second-guessing. His history at Margaret River is incredible. His results right now are not. If you’re a glutton for punishment, then put him in and get ready to either feel the burn or feel the glow. He’s squarely on the bench for me right now, until I see him surf round 1. Highest score for sure.

Caio is another option who has done well here in the past, but feels like a risky bet. Instead, I’m thinking recent Triple Crown form and who impressed there. There will be similar shifting conditions with pits and walls a-plenty. The first name that springs to mind from the sorting hat is Gryfindor! Colapinto has been ruling solid turns of late and I’m thinking he’ll rise to the shine in this event as well. Jeremy Flores is another option who loves the tubes and loves the carves. Rhino Callinan could be charging with horns up, as could Ethan Ewing.

Jack Robbo is another pick who’s on everyone’s lips. If only he’d left his bowl cut instead of shaved his melon, I’d be able to make some kind of rip bowl joke. Instead, all I’m left with is a skinner that grew up before his time who is probably deserving a place in my team. Finally, I’ll end with a no no. Deivid Silva. He was amazing the last two events, but if it’s at The Box, it’s hard to see him doing anything more than amazing swan dives. Pick the much safer options.

In: Fingers, Griffin, Jeremy, Jack Robbo
Back up: Rhino and Ethan
Out: Deivid and Yago 

WOMENSTier C - Local Knowledge

While Tier B is full of heavy-hitters, Tier C is packed with small wave prowess. That’s absolutely not going to help anyone at this event. Pocket rockets like Brisa Hennessy and Sage Erickson still charge, but their rail game leaves a lot of spray in the water come game time. That’s not really what you’re looking for. The only exception I can see here is local hope Bronte Macaulay. She is insanely solid on her feet, scored well in the Triple Crown with her Sunset hooks, and will be looking to emulate that form in front of her hometown crowd. Someone who has common sense and ocean sense, Bronte is easily the pick of this tier.  

In: Bronte
Back up: Nikki Van Dyke
Out: Amuro Tsuzuki

MENSTier C - Veteran Vipers

I’m still coming to grips with the fact that Owen Wright is ranked 27th in the world right now. If Australia ever had a chance of cracking the Top 5 this year, I’d have picked him at the start of the season. Sure he missed Pipe, but even then he got smoked for round 4 and round 3 exits the last two events. Very unlike Owen. With conditions swinging in his favour this time around, you’d think his experience and talent should gain some solid footing.

Another Veteran Viper that feels poised to strike is anaconda-thighs Michel Bourez. As a past winner of this event, the Spartan will be ready to spray venom all over the place. Seth Moniz, Mikey Wright and Ace Buchan are others who could show their ocean experience to reveal their true form too. All worthy inclusions.

Jacob Wilcox is another who could go deep into the draw as a wildcard if he can shake his dreaded round 3 match-up with a top seed. Time will tell there but sentimental West Aussies could do worse than plunging a throbbing Wilcox into their team. On that awkward note, here’s the short of it. 

In: Owen and Bourez
Back Ups: Seth and Mikey
Out: Alex Rebeiro

So that’s the WSL Fantasy Surfer Guide Margaret River. As per last time, it’s worth noting that the early rounds change everything. If surfers stumble early, throw them out for those in form. Look to spread your team out across the draw to avoid double-ups in later heats too. A good rule to think about is having one team member in every two-heat block for round 3. As the draw reduces down, that gives you the best chance of having 8 left come quarters time. You have to shoot for the stars. Look to see who those stars are and you’ll be good to go.

Good luck. Happy picking.