Can Toledo prove himself in Tahiti or will Medina and Wilson prey on his coral weakness? And what about Wilko, Wright and some bloke called Slater?
Can Filipe Toledo Change The Narrative?
Filipe obviously wants to change his Teahupoo narrative. That’s the one that has lefthand slabs as his Achilles Heel, evidenced by his regular poor results at Fiji, Chopes and Pipe. This year though he sidestepped his inevitable win at the US Open and instead travelled to Tahiti for a swell. Footage of him packing a few bombs, and scoring some serious new back tattoos, at least show that he is serious about improving himself at the wave. That’s commendable of course though just how easy it is for the head to rule the heart is still be to tested. Until he does well under competitive pressure in a solid swell the narrative will remain the same.
What’s The Chance Of A Wilson and Medina Final?
Unlike Toledo, both Julian Wilson or Gabriel Medina were born to charge. That they just happen to both be two of the most technically gifted surfers (and tube riders) of their generation makes their job a little easier. The two met in last year’s Final, later award the 2017 Heat Of The Year, which featured a good old fashioned paddle battle at the start and Wilson getting out of combo with two 9-point rides at the death. They both know Chopes is their best chance to gain ground on Jeep Leader Toledo. What chance of repeat of last year?
Do We Need To Talk About Wilko?
In the last two years Wilko has entered Tahiti wearing the Jeep Leader’s yellow jersey. The pressure was huge and perhaps played a part in him losing it both times. In 2018 though he enters the event as the World No 30. He won’t be fighting for a World Title, but to save his CT career. It’s difficult to say which situation carries more pressure, although not so hard to pick which predicament Wilko would choose. The goofyfooter however has stepped up at Chopes before (most noticeably when it was giant in 2014) and is natural tube pig. Time is running out though and he needs a good result. Otherwise he can start to plan his Search missions in 2019. Anyone ready for the hashtag #MickMattandMase
You might have heard of the 11 X World Champion Kelly Slater. Well, he’s won a record five Tahitian titles, the last as recently as 2016, and happens to be quite good here. He’ll need a solid swell forecast (the early signs aren’t good), but if there was ever a place where broken feet, experimental boards and retirement all, finally, become irrelevant, it’s here at Teahupoo. You sense he’s looking for just one more CT win before he quits and this event remains, by some distance, his best chance of achieving that end goal.
Can Owen Wright Break His Semifinal Drought?
Since Owen Wright’s dramatic comeback win at the Quik Pro Gold Coast in March 2017, The Big O has failed to make to a Semifinal in any event since. He’s been consistent, sure, and the five Quarterfinal finishes he’s had in that time have kept him safely in the top 10. Given his head injury in 2016, that is a remarkable achievement. Yet his talent is too huge to simply make up the numbers and he’ll be desperate to make a bigger impact. Tahiti, where he’s been a standout for a decade, provides a perfect platform to do just that.