World Surf League - Quiksilver Pro Snapper Rocks 2017 Preview

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Last years Quik Pro champ - Matt Wilkinson,  going upside down at Snapper Rocks. Photo: WSL/Kirstin Scholtz

Introduction
The worlds best surfers, in the worlds best waves at the worlds best locations. This is the theme and has been for the World Surf League for the last 3 years and this year is no exception. Step in, to what could be one of the best years on the world tour. This is the 2017, World Surf League Championship Tour, where the top 34 surfers in the world will do battle at the 1st event of the year at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast.

This year you’ll be able to follow the WSL around all 11 world tour stops, with insights, fantasy surfer tips,  event re-caps, surf forecasts, world title contenders and the mechanics on event locations, all here on Boardworld.

Mechanics: Snapper Rocks

The main entrance point to Snapper is through the “key hole” at the top of the point.  Once you’ve negotiated the rock jump or paddled out and you’re in the line up, this sandy right hand point break offers all the fruits you could ask for in a wave. Reeling barrels, smashable lips and of course an overwhelming and some what intimidating crowd.

Super bank season works at its best from March through June. During this time easterly and north easterly swells grace the line up, over a sandy bottom creating one of the most perfect right hand points in the world.

2016 Re-Cap
What a year 2016 was:

* John John Florence claims his maiden world title

* Matt Wilkinson wins Snapper and Bells, looses world title

* Michel Bourez wins a lack luster Pipe Masters

* Mick Fanning winning J-Bay after that infamous shark encounter (attack).

* Jordy Smith has his best year on tour finishing runner up to JJF

* Certain pros skip out on the Brazil leg due to fears of falling sick due to bad water pollution

*Gabriel Medinas step dad, Charlie gets banned from the first 3 tour stops of 2017 due to bad behaviour at a tour stop last year.

Ins and Outs
In: Owen Wright (return from injury)
In: Mikey Wright (wildcard)
In: Mick Fanning (return from hiatus)
In: Bede Durbridge (return from injury)

Wildcards
Mikey Wright has earned the first spot as a wildcard for the Quik Pro

Offical Surfline Forecast

Brief Overview:
Surf trending down opening day. Trade swell likely to take shape mid/late next week. Lots of model changes around specifics but model confidence improving some.

Swell/Surf Outlook:
Our current Tasman Sea low will spin down/weaken while tracking off to the SE over the next couple of days. Swell from this will be trending down over the weekend and through early next week. By Tuesday we are on the last bit of this with surf around the waist high range.

We’re back for another year of (impossible to pick the winner) Fantasy Surfing. For those of you that haven’t played before, your FS team must consist of 8 surfers. 2 Tier A surfers (high seeds), 4 Tier B (mid range seeds) and 2 Tier C surfers (lowest seeds). The aim of the game is to get all you’re surfers through to round 5 and the finals. The person with most points for each surfer wins! Wins what you ask? Well that depends if you start up a league (club) and place a wager like myself and a few mates have!! Enough about my gambling habits…. Lets see who’s stacking up for the Quik Pro.

Tier A
Always a tough tier to pick. These picks are your aces in the hole. My choices here would be, Julian Wilson and Gabriel Medina. Julian recently got hitched and got runner up at the Australian Open of Surfing at Manly Beach. The guy looks hungrier than ever. Dropping 8’s and 9’s all over the AOS, he’s going to be dangerous at Snapper. Did I mention he’s also a previous finalist?
Gabriel Medina has every trick in the book on lock, including amazing heat strategy. Your 2014 world champion, Medina is no stranger to success. He’s going for a second world title this year. Look out.
Other options. John John Florence, Jordy Smith

Tier B
Filipe Toledo, Mick Fanning and Connor Coffin. These 3 guys combined have the biggest rail game of anyone on tour. t Filipe won here in 2015 against Julian, Mick Fanning, well… Say no more. Connor Coffin will be looking to cement his place amongst the tour elites.  Connor has just picked up a new sponsorship deal with Ripcurl, who he’ll be out to impress with his monster rail game.

Tier C
Pick wisely here young jedi, and accumulate points you will. Rookies are a good risk here. Zek Lau and Leonardo Fioravanti. Two power houses. Zek managed to qualify by the skin of his teeth and will be out to show the critics he means business. Leonardo is a surgeon. This guy’s surfing is so particular and on point, I’m sure even the top dogs will have trouble bringing this guy down. 

Dark Horse Picks
Kolohe Andino and Italo Ferriera

Continued Below….

 
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The 2017 Rookie Class
Ladies and Gentleman your rookies for the 2017 CT

Connor O’Leary (AUS), Ethan Ewing (AUS), Fredrico Morias (PRT), Joan Duru (FRA) Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), Ian Gouveia (BRA) and Ezekiel Lau (HAW).

All proven guys with a bag of tricks bigger than yours. Europe has the strongest presence for the first time ever. Australia has the top 2 QS qualifiers. Connor O’Leary won the QS last year and Ethan, who is the current world junior champ came a strong second in the QS ratings. Zek Lau is the only Hawaiian to qualify and just scrapped through, but this should be his break out year, a QS veteran, Zek will be nothing short of 100% focused.

I really like the look of the rookies this year. All hungry and all biding for a permanent spot on the world tour.

World Title Predictions
As I write this article, Mick Fanning has just announced he’s committed to the world tour, full time and gunning for a 4th world title!!! More on that here.  Kelly will also be in the hunt for his 12th title this year after “finally getting his shit together”.

With the 2 vets going at it, we can also add some young spark to the mix. John John will be out to defend his 2016 title, with Gabs Medina hot on his heels. Julian Wilson, Jordy Smith and Kolohe Andino will be very fired up and looking to come the title party.

This years race could be the best we’ve seen for a while with the rookies, vets and anyone in-between, chasing down the 2017 world title.

Past Quicksilver Pro Champions
2016: Matt Wilkinson
2015: Filipe Toledo
2014: Gabriel Medina
2013: Kelly Slater
2012: Taj Burrow
2011: Kelly Slater
2010: Taj Burrow

Summery
Overall, this years CT is shaping up to be an absolute doozy and Snapper Rocks is the starting point of it it all. Will Kelly kick off his campaign with a win? Will Mick showcase his best at home? How will Owen Wright handle coming back on tour after a life threatening injury? Will the Brazilian Storm continue to flare?  All questions will be answered when the event kicks off, March 14th. Make sure you tune in live to the WSL site for all the action!

Mens Round 1 Heat Draw
Heat 1: Michel Bourez, Connor Coffin, Jadson Andre
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson, Stu Kennedy, Ian Gouveia
Heat 3: Kolohe Andino, Kanoa Igarashi, Jack Freestone
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina, Wiggly Dantes, Zek Lau
Heat 5: Jordy Smith, Miguel Pupo, TBD
Heat 6: John Florence, Connor O’leary, TBD
Heat 7: Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Jeremy Flores (Super Heat!)
Heat 8: Julian Wilson, Caio Ibelli, Lenonardo Fiorivanti
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson, Italo Ferreira, Joan Duru
Heat 10: Filipe Toledo, Adrian Buchan, Fedrico Morias
Heat 11: Adriano de Souza, Josh Kerr, Bede Durbridge
Heat 12: Sebastian Seitz, Owen Wright, Ethan Ewing

 
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Great write up, @saltyseadog. Should be a great year with Mick Fanning back in the hunt!