The forecast for the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro is perhaps the most important thing you should consider when picking your Fantasy lineup. It's probably, maybe going to be a thousand feet. It will range from windy, raining scariness to sunny, inviting A-frames.
The purple blob making its way to the coast is looking sizable and Margaret River is a swell magnet. It can be the most intimidating spot on Tour. With deep ocean swells, a tricky lineup and, um, wildlife lurking, it's a gauntlet. Having said that, here are my Start 'Em Sit 'Em projections for this year's event.
Tier A: Carissa Moore (HAW)
Carissa Moore. I know, I'm not surprised either. This lady is on a tear: She won Goldy's, she won at Bells and she won this very event last year. The wave at Margaret River definitely suits her open-face carves on those rounded-pin Mayhems she's been riding. The forecast is looking big, which many think resemble those big Hawaiian waves Carissa is used to riding back home. Start her!
Tier B: Courtney Conlogue (USA) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)
This for me is a toss-up between Courtney and Tatiana. These girls charge when things get heavy. Courtney's performance in bigger surf at Honolua Bay last year proved she knows how to handle her nerves, not to mention she made it to Quarterfinals at Margaret's last year. Tatiana took out the GoPro Challenge in heavier waves in Fiji last year and she's been looking on point in her rookie year on the CT. Both will freesurf this place to death, in the dark, and therefore will feel at ease in the lineup. And both seem to have the right equipment under their feet. I'm calling it here, these are my Tier B picks!
Tier C: Laura Enever (AUS)
Before Bells I said I was going to save Laura for one of the heavier waves on Tour. I didn't expect it to come so soon, but with Surfline's report I'm pulling for her. She proved herself in big surf at P-Pass before the Gold Coast and then at massive Cloudbreak after! She's got courage, but more importantly she's got practice and a strong mental game. Add to it that her backhand hacks are second-to-none, thanks to her North Narrabean upbringing. If the big stuff shows up, Laura is sure to shine.
Tier A: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
I chose to sit Tyler for Bells. But I think she loves having a dig out at Margaret River and revels in testing conditions, therefore I'm sitting Steph. Steph has been on a tear also, but I have to sit one of them! Tyler narrowly took her out in the Quarterfinals at Bells and as last year's runner-up I think Tyler will be hungrier than ever for a result. (Honestly though -- I think Carissa, Tyler and Steph will hold onto prime real estate at Margaret River.)
Tier B: Silvana Lima (BRA)
I typed a few names here and erased them. It could range from 100 feet to 2 feet. 6'6 semi-guns to 5'2 grovelers. I'm going to sit Silvana...If it's big she may just be too light to hold her rail on a ripped-up Marg's face. If it's smaller and clean, I may regret this sit, but whatevs -- let's live dangerously!
Tier C: Sage Erickson (USA)
Sorry Sage, I had to sit someone. Coming in as a lower seed, she'll have a tough heat draw. She faces Stephanie Gilmore and Bianca Buitendag -- both whom have been ripping -- in Round 1. We all know Sage has the talent, but I think she's yet to find that strategy that will get her through heats. I hope she proves me wrong, but I have to sit her for now.
Dark Horse: Lakey Peterson (USA)
Lakey Peterson. I have a feeling Lakey's power-surfing will suit the walls at Margaret River. So far she's had a Quarterfinal and a Semifinal finish and I think she's hunting a Final like nobody else. With Mike Parsons to help her with positioning and to get her head wrapped around the task at hand, she may prove to be a serious Dark Horse at Marg's.
Rosy Hodge (ZAF) competed on the World Surf League (WSL) Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour (CT) from 2007-2010, before joining the WSL broadcast team. She weighs in on who she thinks should round out your Women's Fantasy Surfing lineup ahead of each CT event.