Pipe Fantasy Preview
Last updated December 6, 2020 by Balyn McDonald
It feels weird to be kicking off the title race at Pipe. No world title scenarios, no qualification predictions, no pressure, no form to look at. Nothing.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m psyched to have the tour back, and I’m super keen to share our fantasy game with the world, but the Pipe build-up is usually an unrivaled spectacle in the world of pro surfing.
As a mediocre Australian surfer who’s never been to Hawaii, I’m probably not the most qualified to write about surfing Pipeline. Instead, I’ll leave it to surfing’s most respected historian, Matt Warshaw. His excellent encyclopaedia of surfing (subscribe here) describes Pipe as such:
Beautiful but ferocious Hawaiian surf break located on the North Shore of Oahu, regarded since the early 1960s as the sport’s premier tube; site of the venerable Pipeline Masters competition. “First it intimidates you,” Kelly Slater said. “Then you find the balls to give it a try. Then you figure it out, and grow from the pride that comes with that. Then you get hungry for it.”
Pipeline is best on a west or northwest swell, and like with the rest of the North Shore breaks most often from October to March. While “Pipeline” specifically refers to the left-breaking wave, it can also be used to include Backdoor, the right-breaking wave attached to the Pipeline peak that opens up when the swell comes in from the north or northwest; surfers will often take off side by side, one riding Pipeline, the other riding the Backdoor right.eos.surf
There are numerous guides to Pipeline, including surfline’s mechanics of pipleine, the WSL’s breakdown with Gerry Lopes, and a Vision piece with Gabe. Then there’s GoPro guides from Kelly, John and Seabass.
Our metrics and predictions are focused on data from reef breaks, in both left and right conditions, with a weighting towards results in this particular event and for an average of slightly larger waves (6′-8′).
The official forecast is up, with the start of the event window looking promising if not possibly maxed out. Hopefully Monday’s swell will wash off some of the sand to set up a great event. There a few good swells and potentially good winds building for the event window. Here’s the basic overview:
- Solid swell with favorable wind conditions Tues/Wed 8th-9th
- Surf dips down and becomes small over Thurs/Fri 10th-11th
- More sizable swell possible for 12th-14th and beyond
Injuries / Wildcards
Given the fact that we’re at the beginning of the season, there’s little to report.
or AND Mikey Wright: these two surfers will battle for the one full-time replacement position on tour (and the 34th seed spot at Pipe) in a best-of-3 Pipe show down. The first of these match-ups will take place between the first and second rounds of the local trials for the Billabong Pipeline Masters, the second will happen between the semi-final and the final of the trials and, if needed, the decider will run on the first day of the main event. Weird.
Both surfers have now been added to the WSL draw.
Josh Moniz: The Hawaiian from yet-another uber-talented surf family (not the Florences, not the Hos, who were both represented in the trials) stormed the final with a 19.20 heat total. He will be seeded 35th in the main draw.
Miguel Tudelo: The Peruvian charger will make his WCT debut and begin challenging for the undisputed owner of the nickname ‘Miggy’.
Nobody is confirmed as being out yet, but with a global pandemic hovering on the edges of this event, you’ll need to keep an ear out.
Owen Wright: Owen has also withdrawn, likely due to family/travel reasons, and is missing from the latest WSL draw.
Here’s the current draw without wildcards and Ace (updates coming shortly):
Scroll through the stats below and see how your favourite surfers fare.
Stats Pipe 2020
|Surfer Name||Career Win %||L/R win %||Reef win %||4-6' win%||6-8' win%||8-10' win %||L/R AHS||Reef AHS||4-6' AHS||6-8' AHS||8-10'+ AHS||PIPE Avg Place||PIPE Win %||PIPE AHS||FSS Price|
|John John Florence||66.54||68.22||69.61||65.69||73.13||70.83||14.1||15.13||14.45||15.19||16.45||4.67||71.43||13.5||2200000|
|Adriano de Souza||55.56||58.1||51.28||59.17||47.5||70.83||13.05||11.9||13.13||12.62||11.98||10.00||57.14||9.82||700000|
John John Florence – he may not have a win here, but he ranks at the pointy end for every significant metric. His surfer price is LOWER and average Pipe result is slightly HIGHER than…
Gabriel Medina – like John, Gabe rips both the lefts and rights here and has been one of the dominating Pipe surfers in the past decade, making 4 of the past 6 finals. He’s expensive though.
Jack Robinson – sure, he doesn’t have much in the way of Pipe Masters data to draw on, but we’ve all seen him in hollow reef breaks and watched in awe at his abilities. Concentrate instead on this number: his price.
Owen Wright – Last year, I wrote: How could I besmirch the Gath lord himself? Well, it’s not you, Owen, it’s your data. He has only made the quarters once in 6 Pipe events, for a win rate of 27% and an AHS of 9.36. Owen has a formidable record at Fiji and Tahiti, but his Pipe data is pretty poor. In 2019, Owen went on to get a 17th; I still can’t recommend him.
(plus, he’s out of the draw)
Frederico Morais – Fred has surfed Pipe 4 times and is yet to win a single heat. His average heat score is 6.17. It’s a ‘no’ from me.
Wade Carmichael – Wade’s surfed Pipe 3 times. His average Pipe result: 25th. Average heat score: 4.78. Win percentage: 25%. It’s too much for me to counter.
Adrian Buchan – He’s mysteriously dropped out of the draw.
Here’s the thing about data-driven fantasy selections: they almost always guarantee you a safe, bankable score. What they don’t earn you is a winning score, a score that risks rising above the pack with an against-the odds darkhorse. For that, you need to back yourself with a solid sleeper pick.
Jordy Smith – I want to put Italo, but he’s #1, so that’s hardly a dark horse pick. I’m going to back Jordy instead. I think he could pull a new-dad miracle like Julian at the Gold Coast in 2018.
Jack Freestone – last year I recommended Jack in this tier despite a poor Pipe history. He got a 5th. He had a solid 9th in Tahiti as well. I’m rolling the dice on him again.
Connor O’Leary – Since everyone will have Jack Robbo, I needed to look wider. Connor O’Leary has gotten a 13th here in his two events, but he’s also had 9ths in Tahiti and a 9th at heavy Margies.
While you’re here reading, don’t forget to check out all of the features that have been added to the FSS fantasy game.
Clubs – make sure you join one or start your own. Surfing Life Mag has created one, so maybe, just maybe, you can win some sweet print journalism prizes.
Data – each surfer’s image can be clicked to get a pop-up screen of historical data. PLUS, there’s the new ‘compare stats for multiple surfers’ feature on the team selection page, where you can compare the data and surfers that you see as relevant.
Substitutes – if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that plans go awry. Make sure you utilize the emergency sub feature for your team (at no cost to your team budget).
Homepage – with scrolling updates of twitter news and a customisable surf forecast (defaulted to Pipe at the moment), you can check any updates at a glance.
All that’s left to do is choose your team, watch the women’s event, and enjoy the return of professional surfing.
– Balyn (surf-stats)