Like any beachbreak, this shit is tough to predict. However, it looks like the swell will not be bombing for the event and that heavily plays into the ripping factor, so I have rippers on my team.
Let’s face it, this is a two man race for the title. Kelly and Mick. Mathematically, Parko, Jordy and Taj are still in the hunt for the 2013 World Title but mathematically, the Jags are still in the hunt for the Playoffs this year. We all know none of those things are realistic.
The budget only allows for one of these guys on the roster. I’ve rode with Kelly all year but the judges are jerking Mick off big time and although opinions might vary on that France final, you’d have to admit Mick is in top form. I don’t doubt Kelly will get a result here, or even win the damn thing, but for one reason or another he doesn’t seem as dangerous recently. He had a shocker in this contest last year, too. The ocean wildcard can play a factor in Portugal, and that goes for anyone.
Got his first win on tour a year ago. I can’t think of any possible conditions in Portugal that wouldn’t favor Julian. He looks solid as a rock on his boards. Maybe the best backside on tour too. You can’t beat this guy’s backside finners right now.
He’s been on fire ever since I throat jabbed him. Freak Boy is back! I expect his roll to continue in Peniche and you know he wants to redeem himself after last year’s embarrassment where his dad threw chairs and he cried on stage.
Freak Boy 2.0. He’s not as well rounded as Medina but he’s every bit as good in the air, and I would say better. If it turns into backside tubes, this pick is doomed (did you see him in Tahiti? Eww.), but if there are air sections, it’s a no brainer.
He’s starting to lose that grommy look and surf more like a man, but is fit and flexible enough to adjust his body for any section Peniche throws in front of him. I think his confidence has grown ten-fold this year and he believes he can win heats. So do I.
I told you we were gonna Gudangbang Europe and that forecast stands strong! At Pat’s pricetag, all he has to do is make a heat or two and he did well for the team. He has not let me down in the past two events. Keep it rolling Patty G!
I don’t know anything about this kid but I’m out of budget. Can’t do any worse than Dane Reynolds the past two events as a wildcard. Plus he’s the highest seeded of the 3 wildcards so won’t match up against Mick or Kelly in Round 2. Parko almost lost to Marc Lacomare so he’s certainly vulnerable right now. Not expecting much out of Fredrico here though. YOLO.
Congrats to Brett on his newborn baby Paigelynn Jean Simpson! He will be landing the morning of the event so it could go two ways here. Either he’s jet lagged and mentally drained from the birth of his first child, loses, and goes back home ASAP. Or he harnesses this newfound father strength and the motivation to provide for his baby turbo-boosts him into a huge result. I can’t decide which I think will happen but let’s hope for the latter.
You’d have to wonder when the dream run ends for Ottz. He’s surfed great this season and is clearly the overachiever of the year but it’s hard to imagine that he keeps the roll going in Portugal. Kai is rated 10th on tour, above surfers like John John, Nat, and Medina who all have twice his talent. The dream run hits a speed bump in Peniche, or he might just be so in the zone that he keeps pushing into the final series. I won’t be spending 27mil on him though. No way.
A very quiet year with no result higher than 9th despite some amazing antics in Tahiti. Last year he made the Quarters here. Can Jeremy finally break through in this event?
Wilko is outside the bubble for the 2014 WCT. So far in 2013, he’s found one keeper with a 5th at Snapper. If he does end up finding a result to sneak back on tour like he did in Santa Cruz last year, it’s more likely to happen here than it is at Pipe. What wetsuit will he have for us?
Still no Dusty Payne. I got an update from his brother Dylan today. He thought Dusty might be back for this event but doesn’t feel quite ready to compete at the highest level. Right now he’s gung-ho about being 100% for the Hawaiian season. The first competitive action for Dusty might be directly after Peniche at the Cascais Billabong Pro Prime, which is also in Portugal. I would bet on a full strength Payne for a cheap price come Pipeline.
Tiago Pires and his fan base must be shattered not able to surf his home event but he is still dealing with a knee.
Glen Hall and Owen Wright are out indefinitely. Gonna be an interesting battle for the two injury wild card slots this year.