Fiji is the only stop on the Women's Tour offering a strictly left-hand wave. While it's no guarantee that goofyfooters will have an advantage, surfers like Bianca Buitendag, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Bronte Macaulay, Alessa Quizon and Wildcard Bethany Hamilton should at least make your consideration table; they will finally get to showcase some consistent frontside game. Fiji was reintroduced to the Women's CT in 2014 after an eight year hiatus, but the only current surfer to compete in 2006 was Stephanie Gilmore. Here are some stats and figures to help you pick a great team for event #5, Tavarua, Fiji.
Carissa Moore (Projected 14.3 AHS / 107.38 FP) - Moore is looking to break out of a (relative) funk, having taken third in each event so far this year. It may not come in Fiji, though. This event was one of her two drops last year (ninth place) and the final touch on a three-event slide. Still, Carissa's 13.35 Fiji career AHS (trending upward with a 14.69 last year) is much better than her tier competition. In fact, Tier A as a whole has a fairly weak history here; Moore, Courtney Conlogue and Tyler Wright have combined for 5 total events, a 12.01 AHS, 2 QF Appearances, 58.41 average Fantasy Points (FP) per event, 4.4 Rounds per Event Average (REA) and 1 Bye per event. Conlogue has the only asterisk here with just one event under her belt, so she has more potential to pull ahead. Until that happens, though, Carissa is still the best option on paper.
Odds - 5:1
Courtney Conlogue (Projected 13.15 AHS / 84.78 FP) - At her only career CT event in Fiji, Courtney made the QF with 68.19 FP last year. Her 10.45 AHS is troubling, though, as it suggests a top seed paved a smooth road. The good news is that this is still the case in 2016, and with Carissa Moore in a (again, relative) slump, Conlogue could take out Tier A. Tyler Wright has been shaky at Fiji in the past and hasn't made a QF here, but she's also worth consideration as she's thrown her history out the window in 2016. Tyler also has the most momentum heading into Tavarua, effectively making the tier a three-way toss-up. A good idea might be to pick Tier A last, judging against your team's R1 heat draw.
Odds - 10:1
Sally Fitzgibbons (Projected 14.34 AHS / 108.57 FP) - The projection model favors Sally to win Fiji this season - not surprising, as she's won the last two years in a row. Fitzgibbons has been undisputedly dominant, posting the top-ranked 14.89 AHS and 211.97 FP over two events. While she may be ownership-heavy, there's still limited risk in picking her up given the W ceiling. Sally's probability of finishing top-two in the tier is way too high for any sort of strategic fade - this is a Lock.
Odds - 5:1
Tatiana Weston-Webb (Projected 12.64 AHS / 67.6 FP) - Tatiana was the highest owned surfer for Rio at 50.08% and she ranked only fourth in the tier when the dust was settled. While that may have been disappointing, Fiji is a different wave, and one that suits her well. Weston-Webb competed as Courtney Conlogue's IR in 2014, so she has just as much experience here as the rest of the women. Over that time she's posted a 13.32 AHS and 62.56 FP per event average, both on a promising trend following last year's 77.23 FP and 14.66 AHS. Tati owns a top-five 13.32 AHS going left, and Fiji is the lone spot on tour she gets to flex the forehand. Be cautious if you think she could be over-drafted again, though.
Odds - 20:1
Stephanie Gilmore (Projected 13.46 AHS / 87.24 FP) - Gilmore finally made the Perfect Fantasy Team in Rio, finishing second in Tier B to Sally Fitzgibbons. The projections are suggesting a similar result for Fiji. Steph has surfed two events here in her career, once in 2014 and the other in 2006, and it's been a solid run: 12.78 AHS, 68.24 FP per event, 3 Byes, 1 Final Appearance and 5 Rounds per Event Average (REA). She's facing the same problem as Carissa Moore this year, though, struggling to break through a performance ceiling of QF eliminations. It's consistent, but not what we're used to from Gilmore. It's a better situation than Moore, as Tier B offers a bit more wiggle-room between two selections, but the QF-and-out has been limiting her fantasy while she continues to be highly owned.
Odds - 8:1
Johanne Defay (Projected 12.5 AHS / 66.95 FP) - Defay has quietly put together a nice performance history in Fiji, posting a 13.14 AHS over two events, making the QF in 2014 for 63.79 FP and the SF last year for 84.66 FP (third place in fantasy). If you are wary on Gilmore, Johnanne makes a great hedge as they share a R1 heat. There's some risk, but she could produce an early return should she put Gilmore in R2.
Odds - 22:1
Honorable mention to Bianca Buitendag (Projected 12.84 AHS / 68.45 FP) and Laura Enever (Projected 10.2 AHS / 22.1 FP). Bianca has been crushing Fiji with a 14.26 AHS and 6 REA (both second only to Sally Fitzgibbons). She's highly recommended if you don't have Sally as your other option, as they share R1H2. Laura Enever would have been a great pick for Tier C, but has too much risk now in the middle pack. Taking 5th place at Fiji the last two years shows tremendous upside, but that's a fairly superficial stat. Enever's 11.71 Fiji AHS has only net her 117.29 FP over two events (58.65 average). That's great for Tier C, but the Tier B competition is too strong for consideration.
Alessa Quizon (Projected 11.56 AHS / 61.9 FP) - With a 12.07 AHS on left waves, Quizon gets the rare opportunity to bring her frontside game to the CT in Fiji. She posted 51.94 FP here in 2014, admittedly better than last year's 20.49 FP; while that trend isn't too hot, options in Tier C are limited.
Odds - 94:1
Nikki Van Dijk (Projected 10.84 AHS / 23.56 FP) - Opposite of Alessa Quizon is Nikki Van Dijk, who had a great Fiji event last year and is projected to fare worse. The projection model takes more into account that last year's event, and Nikki's Fiji career AHS is only 11.17 (almost a full point lower than Alessa). While she may seem like the best option, taking a step back might be helpful - either way, Van Dijk is among the most experienced in Tier C.
Odds - 135:1
Bethany Hamilton (Projected 11.45 AHS / 62.1 FP) - Bethany Hamilton has the best projection in Tier C, but her CT sample size is so small that the risk is just as great. The reason you may consider this option is to have some contrarian hedge; if you are fairly status-quo with the rest of your picks, the low tier for Fiji represents the most potential for a random leader. Be cautious, though, as the limited C pool may force a high percentage of teams into Hamilton as well.
Odds - 135:1
Hope that helps get your team ready for the Fiji Women's Pro, starting on 29 May (28 May if you're a day behind Fiji!). If you want to chat fantasy, come say hello on Twitter: @FantasyWSL and @RossWilliamsHI. Good luck and see you on the leaderboard!