Photo: Tim McKenna
Perhaps the scariest stop on tour, the event in Tahiti can separate the little peckers from the big swinging dicks. Is a World Champion respectable if they can't pull into some macking Chopes barrels? I predict this contest to be a foresight into who is gonna be our Champion of 2016. We have perhaps one of the most exciting title bouts forming as we speak. Wilko is still out front wearing the yellow jersey but biting at his heels are an in form John John Florence and a focused Gabe Medina. Both John and Gabe have proven themselves on this monster of a wave. Wilko by his own accounts has said to be scared shitless and admitted that these barrels aren't his specialty. Although 2016 has been anything but Matt Wilkinson proving himself to be very different than Wilkos of yesteryear. A lot of folks doubted his Fiji performance before that contest as well, he proved many wrong by making it to the semi finals only to be beaten by Gabe who looked very good. So far along this season the title is still up for grabs. Mick is still in 5th after his tremendous win at JBay, so he could do his Mick Magic dominate the rest of the year and announce his retirement on a podium (Is that the only reason Kelly hasn't retired yet?). Some food for thought though, this is about the time of year that John usually starts to put up big scores after having a sulky start, but 2016 John has had a steady climb to 2nd place.
We haven't ever seen Two Johns go into this back end of the season this high up on the rankings. Is there an event remaining that you would bet against him? Two factors, can he close heats? Can he be consistent? Also a third and fourth factor could be Gabe and Wilko's surfing. If Wilko makes it past quarters, that is huge points for him, and the next three events suit his surfing well. Gabe has proven that if his head is in the event he can win all of the remaining events. BUT, have you seen footage of John pull into some of these heaving barrels? Think he enjoys the beach break slabs of France? You watch him surf his heats at Trestles? More 10's in an event in the history of all pro surfing! My money would be on the Hawaiian native, where the season ends in his backyard at Pipe. Pressure is on, for all the surfers in the Top 5. The only one has proven himself with this kind of building pressure is the Brazilian that some love to hate. I say, watch this contest very closely. See how the top 3 do, this could be an indicator of our future Champion.