Robert Kelly Slater: Shave your sheep and knit me a straight jacket because I think there is no chance that Kelly Slater will win this event. Certainly, he’s good at Keramas and he is Kelly Slater, but he hasn’t been as impressive as his younger adversaries. With J’s like Julian, Josh, Jordy and John John, I can’t find myself in K.S.’s warung this time around. The bald eagle might kill a crow and serve it to me for thinking this way, but I’d just throw the crow meat over some noodles and call it nasi goreng.
John John: You know those wild backside full roters he does, and how he makes them look so easy? I’m beginning to believe they actually are for him. He’s been sticking them with absolutely no regard for the lowly average pro surfer trying to produce a relevant web clip. John John is easily the favorite to win this event.
Julian Wilson: Julian was taking the railroad in a lot of heats leading up to Bali, using power instead of punts, but it seemed like losing to Jeremy Florez in Round 1 lit a spark in him. He threw some mallets in Round 2 and has been surfing handsomely ever since. I would classify him as dangerous.
Gabriel Medina: While I can’t see him winning the event, Gabe will likely be the most successful goofy-foot, and that has to be worth something. Maybe a pair of Oakley Blades and Bintang Coca-Cola?
Sebastian Zietz: Seabass has been surfing exceptionally well. He’s been trying those lien grab double alley-oops (I refuse to call it a “Loop Revert” because we are talking about surfing, not theme parks.) and coming awfully close. Bass’ only flaw is that he’s surfing against John John in Round 3. That one ought to be a spectacle.
Mick Fanning: Mick also came close on a lien double-oop during a freesurf. He’s been smashing Keramas before the sun rises every single morning. I’m not sure if he even sleeps at all. But if he does, he dreams of two things and two things only: Hulk Hogan, stark nude, riding a giraffe and winning the Oakley Pro Bali. The latter of the two could end up a reality, but it would be a tall order.
Jordy Smith: Keramas might as well have been built for Jordy Smith. He’ll bastardize any wave that he catches there. Jordy can do a Les Stroud certified man hack on one wave and a Selena Gomez approved stalefish air-reverse on the next. Anything less than a Final would be a disappointment.
Big Bill Cardosa: Buffalo Bill is still my favorite surfer. He’s out of the contest and I don’t really think he’ll make a heat in Tahiti, but still — if I were Teahupoo, I’d watch the fuck out.
Pay close attention to Round 4. It’s a non-elimination round with 3-man heats. This reduces to pressure and in turn, we’ll see some Grade-A daredevils. If there is even a tinge of wind at Keramas, expect to see another wowzer air. When nobody loses, everybody wins.