ASP # 20 Brett Simpson
Owner of the best claim of the event (which I hope was a premeditated attempt to let the judges know he is fired up and not just a nice guy) Simpo’s 9th here was his equal best of the year and puts him a tiny step closer to safety. His surfing is smooth to the point of bland, and he needs to do something to make him stand out from the bubble pack. What that is, I have no idea.
ASP # 19 Freddy Pattachia
Sitting 19th despite missing the first three events to injury, Freddy has worked out you just have to beat the guy in your heat to get results. He stayed super busy and super focused in France, and has enough flash on his backhand and enough fire in his belly to stay relevant. Oh and he is comfortably in the top 5 for post heat interviews.
ASP # 18 Sebastian Zietz
Seabass’ surfing still looks right at home on the World Tour, and at 26 and with 7 years of WQS grind behind him, he doesn’t make a lot of rookie mistakes. Smashed Bede in Round 2, and was unlucky with John John in round 3. He catches more waves than anyone on tour, and does a lot with them. Needs one more result though, which should come at Pipe.
ASP # 17 Jeremy Flores
It may be hard to take positives out of a heat sheet that read Toledo 18.47 to Flores 2.67, but that was a heat of eight foot close-outs and Toledo did a massive alley-oop (to tube head dip) that left Jeremy chasing a huge score. On the plus side he hasn’t had a worse result than a 13th. On the negative he hasn’t done better than a 9th. That mediocre consistency keeps him out of requalification trouble, and with Portugal and Pipe to come, there should be some improvement.
ASP # 16 Felipe Toledo
Only 18, but with a bit of facial hair and a set of shoulders that hint a full-blown manhood approaching, you don’t have victories over Flores (in throttling Grav tubes), Jordy and Kelly without having a mix of explosive airs and comp smarts. His style is also smooth, his massive punts linked with grace and timing. He needed a result and you get the feeling this might be confidence shot that will make him a real player real soon. He also cried when he beat Slater, which is a good thing right?
ASP # 15 Gabriel Medina
A few harsh judges calls in Round 1 fired up Gabriel, who feels he has been underscored throughout his first proper tough year on tour (at Trestles his posse destroyed the surfers area monitor in disgust). He came back strong though, with a mix of tube positioning when it was clean and aerials when it was onshore. He never looked like losing, consistently posting heat scores above 17 in each round. I’m still unsure how he lost the final, given the conditions, Mick’s control and experience again forcing mistakes. Still back where he should be and maybe learning a few life lessons along the way.
ASP # 14 John John Florence
Succumbed to a Mick Fanning strangulation in quarterfinal, after Mick caught 4 waves in the first 9 minutes, of which two were a 9 and a 8. John John never recovered and you wonder if his mellow approach is costing him heats against guys that would chew off their mother’s arm for heat win. Mind you every time he takes off, he can win a heat, so maybe we shouldn’t worry. His mother’s arms are safe, for now.
ASP # 13 Adrian Buchan
Ace has had a post Tahiti win comedown, although we assume it’s not through going on a month long Las Vegas bender. He surfed a super strong heat (to score 16.40) in his loss to Medina in Round 3, and it was only Gaby’s at will rotations that cost him. Mentally crisp and technically sound, he should be back in the top 10 for Christmas.
ASP # 12 Nat Young
The euphoria of Bells and Bali’s finals have faded and just maybe Nat Young’s limitations are being shown up a little. His backhand hook and forehead tuberiding are his bread and butter, but sometimes there seems to be a lack of extra dimension that his young peers have. Still sitting at 12 and leading the rookie of the year maybe we are being a little harsh.
ASP # 11 CJ Hobgood
A second round loss derailed what has been a consistent year, although he did have the highest heat total of any of the losers in Round 2. Still way off the bubble and more relaxed than ever, I didn’t see anyone surfing more next to the bank than CJ. Maybe that’s just because he still holds the mantle for the worst wetsuits on tour. Or maybe because he just loves to ride waves.