By now, the conventional wisdom about France's ever-changing conditions is a well-known trope. And it's true: With massive tidal swings, a potential for power and miles of sandbars in flux, Europe's southwest coast can dish up anything, at any time.
That doesn't mean that success there is random. On the contrary, each year at the Roxy Pro France, there are a handful of women who seem to thrive in the wild, unpredictable beachies. Before you make your Fantasy picks, take a look at some of the standout performers. (Hint: The contest event window runs from Tuesday, October 4- Saturday, October 15).
Tier A has the unfortunate distinction of featuring both World Title contenders, Tyler Wright and Courtney Conlogue -- meaning a tough call for Fantasy. More unfortunate, perhaps, is that, among the Tier A picks -- Tyler, Courtney, and Carissa Moore -- Tyler simply dominates in France.
Take, for example, her number of Finals Appearances (FA). Of the five times that Tyler's competed in the Roxy Pro France, she's made the Final four times. Out of Courtney's five appearances in France, she's made just one. While Conlogue has the edge on Average Heat Scores (AHS) -- she boasts 13.53 to Wright's 13.38 -- Tyler has a total of 19 heat wins, to Courtney's 11. As current World No. 1 and 2, respectively, both women have stellar track records this year. But when it comes to the France-specific stats, it's Tyler's turf.
With nine surfers to choose from and just two slots to fill, Tier B is a tough one, too. Leading the pack, however, is Stephanie Gilmore (you don't win six World Titles without some savoire faire in Europe). Having an AHS of 14.28, Gilmore's is the best among current athletes who have surfed more than one France event. She's also won the event more times than anyone, with three trophies on her mantle. Plus, she'll be surfing this week without the pressure of a title race, potentially freeing her up for some of that silky-smooth style for which she's famous.
Among the newer surfers on tour, Tatiana Weston-Webb is the undeniable top dog. Anyone who saw her 10-point barrel in France last year doesn't need to look at the numbers to know what's she's capable of at Les Culs Nus. But just in case you need more convincing, among the CT's Top 17, she has the highest AHS, at 14.54; the highest Fantasy Points Average (FPA), at 105.77, and the highest HWP, at 80 percent. Of course, this is all based on just one event, so take with a grain of French sea salt, but don't count her out, either.
Finally, a potential dark horse pick would be Bianca Buitendag. Her stats don't do her any favors -- her FPA is hovering just above 40, her AHS is 13.22 and she has yet to make a Final -- but she has also been surfing the French beach breaks all summer. Having Hossegor as a home base should give her a leg up at the Roxy Pro.
With six surfers to choose from and only one pick possible, Tier C has its own set of challenges. By the numbers, however, there are two women who would be equally solid picks: Lakey Peterson and Coco Ho. Of the two, Coco has the highest FPA at 56.23, while Lakey has the highest AHS, at 12.57.
Which is all to say: It's anyone's guess from here. With that in mind, bonne chance (good luck!) and let the surfing begin.
Watch the Roxy Pro live at worldsurfleague.com starting at 8:00 am CEST, or watch the replay of the webcast starting at !!:00 am PDT.