Manuia! Not to be confused with manure, that means cheers in Tahitian. How exciting is it to be rolling into another Chopes event, wondering if someone on tour is going to die this time around? Teahupo’o is pretty much the gnarliest wave on the schedule right beside Mistress Banzai, and with plenty of swells heaving through the Pacific already this season, it could be another wild year. Saying that it could also be 4-5ft, but even then it’s going to come down to picking the good ones and some serious left-hand tube-riding skills.

With that in mind here’s our Fantasy Surfer form guide for Teahupo’o Tahiti 2018

TIER A - WAVE WIZARDS AND THE LIZARD BLIZZARD

This tier has the defending champ, plus a guy who has the best record here in recent memory – Julian Wilson and Gabriel Medina. If you can look past those two as the obvious picks then you’ve got some beer goggles jostling on your head.

Julian absolutely charges, is currently sitting at #2 on the rankings and is staring down his best world title shot likely ever. This is his chance to gain some ground on Freakshow Filipe before that little crackfox gets two 10s in every heat at the wave pool comp. Considering Julian won last year and has put in some solid efforts at Tahiti in the past, he’s got to be a red-hot show for a start in any team.

Gabriel’s record in Tahiti speaks for itself – 2nd in 2017, 3rd in 2016, 2nd in 2015 and 1st in 2014. That’s semis or better every year for the last four years. How are you not going to put him on your team? Even if he got syphilis and his dick fell off he’d still have enough manpower to will himself to another final here.

Italo is potentially someone who could spoil things here as well, with a semi finish in his rookie year and a current hot streak to sizzle the hairs on his own dirty moustache.

Someone who you’d think would be a start at Tahiti is Michel Bourez, but he’s fallen victim to Tiago’s Curse most years and been knocked out early. He is incredible at this wave though, so if he can shake the juju he might be able to nail a hometown victory and we can watch the island drown in Hinano for the foreseeable future.

Finally, someone in recent years you’d automatically count out at Chopes could easily crush some dreams here. Filipe. The guy is just ridiculous. He’s surfing with mad confidence and has been putting in the time (and the lime) at this break longer than anyone else on tour in the lead-up. If you’re looking for a not-so-dark horse to add to your Fantasy Surfer team, he could be an epic pick.

Piss the rest off. I’d say Julian and Gabby, with Italo or Filipe as sneakier options.

TIER B - KINDA LIKE PEPSI: GOOD, BUT NOT THE BEST

A big tier with big choices to make. This is where the game will be lost or won for any fantasy surfer nuts out there looking to set themselves apart from the obvious contenders. There are a couple of blonde-haired goofy footers you’d have to think would be easy inclusions – Ace Buchan and Owen Wright. Both of these guys love left hand tubes like geeks love fast wifi.

Jeremy Flores is another one you’d have to assume will be stuffing himself deeper in the tube than a hydrophilic tapeworm. He thrives when the juice starts flowing and is also a past event and Andy Irons award winner here. Say Oui to Jeremy!

The fourth and final slot in this Fantasy Surfer Tier is one I’ve been swapping around a bit. If John John was surfing, he’d be obvious. But, his knee is buckled so I’m going for poor-man’s John John instead: Kolohe Andino. He charges is a proper tube pig and is still hunting hard for his maiden tour victory. I can smell the brill cream Kolohe. Get in there.

Other worthy considerations include De Souza, Parko, Seabass and Zeke Lau. All of those guys are insane when it comes to draggin the wagon. If any one of them gets on a roll, they could easily be sitting on the podium.

Fantasy Surfer dark horses that could go better than you think include Kanoa and Yago. When paired up like that they kind of sound like a Las Vegas Magician’s duo and, let’s face it, kinda have been pulling the rabbits out lately. Kanoa went absolutely ham at J-Bay and has made finals at Pipe, so has shown he can ride a tube when needed. Yago is on his forehand and will be frothing to prove to everyone he’s not just a small wave jockey. Ignore either at your peril.

The only person I’d ditch automatically in this tier in Tomas Herpes. I mean, the guy can’t even spell Thomas right, how’s he going to make it through at the most challenging wave on tour? He can’t, that’s how.

TIER C - INJURED KINGS AND GOOFY GRINS

Fun fact: there are more goofies in Tier C than naturals. That could be a sign of the pending surf apocalypse, or it could just be that it’s hard for cack footers to get a leg up in a tour mostly full of rights. Still, you’d have to think that a lot of these guys are damn fine forehand tube riders, so there’s a bunch of Fantasy Surfer gold waiting to be picked up if they can pick the right waves.

Joan ‘Dooku’ Duru, Connor O’Leary, Matt Wilko, Miggy Pupo and Wiggoly Dantes seem to be the better Fantasy Surfer options, and yet there’s only one place on my team from this group of grinders. Why? Because there’s a big bald GOAT in the draw who’s had more pits that all of those guys at Chopes combined. Kelly has to be a walk up start.

That leaves Count Dooku for me. I’m putting him in for sheer grunt determination. He’s older and wiser than most of the other guys and made quarters here last year as a rookie. I think he’s bound to make this a pet event of his, like his fellow Frenchman Flores. Say Sacre Bleu for Dooku!

Finally, guys I’d ditch right away are Patrick Gudauskas, Michael February and probably Jesse Mendes. There are so many more reliable options on offer and I can’ see any of these guys making it beyond round three against guys more suited to Teahupo’o’s specialist shape. Hell, any of the wildcards would be better considerations. Think about it.

Good luck and happy fantasising.

Fantasy Surfer Guide - Tahiti 2018

For those who are driving, walking or just don’t care to read, the below Tahiti Preview from Lipped will be of interest. Can’t say it’ll get you a win, but it’ll get you some laughs and some insights amongst it all.


Images via::
 WSL