Ross Williams starred in Taylor Steele's Momentum Series films and became a professional surfer in 1990. He spent 10 years on the WCT, and four of those ranked in the Top 16.
Having Jeffreys Bay back on the schedule is as important as having Pipeline or Tahiti. J-Bay demands important elements of the art of surfing that help round out our World Champ. The famously long, clean walls at J-Bay allows surfers to orchestrate a series of big maneuvers -- and hopefully deep bottom turns -- like no other spot on the Tour.
This type of surfing reveals the perfect criteria of speed (technique), power (rail game), and flow which combines all these things seamlessly. Speed comes with proper use of these choreographed rides, but what really becomes apparent is who can look good doing it. So basically, pick guys that surf like Tom Curren for your ASP Fantasy Surfing Team.
Another thing to watch as we close in on the waiting period is the swell forecast. I wouldn't worry about the size of the waves, but the lack of them. Surfers that deal with the pressure of four waves per heat will prevail over the fidgety ones.
Mick has arguably more SPF (speed, power, flow) than any other surfer on Tour. The two-time J-Bay champ has the kind of surfing that is made for the complex point break. White Lighting, as he's known, will be flying down the line destroying section after section with his patented torque-hack that very well could have him lifting the trophy at the end of this event. Mick's quick carves served him decently on the lefts at Cloudbreak, but J-Bay is where his surfing is fully appreciated. Start 'em.
For the very few of you who don't have Jordy on your team, shame on you. Go to your computer or device right now and do it! Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let's look at why Jordy is the man to beat: The 2011 and 2012 J-Bay champ is going into this year's event extremely motivated by his lackluster results. Jordy knows he's capable of winning on a consistent basis, but it doesn't seem to irritate him when he doesn't. I'm thinking this makes the him excited to break through and steamroll his way to win not only J-Bay, but also one or two more events in 2014. South Africa is the place where Jordy turns his luck around. Don't be the fool who didn't collect his points in this event. Start 'em.
Kai's backhand attack will work overtime at Jeffreys. I'm going against my SPF mantra a bit here, but Kai makes up for it with his will and aggression. These attributes should cook up a solid result, which is all we can ask from a tier C pick. Ott's board looked sharp in Fiji, giving me confidence in his chances with his proven backside abilities. Start 'em.
Tier A soldiers are tough to scrutinize in terms of who to sit, because all these dudes could win this event! Taj, for example, won J-Bay in 2007. But... but... Taj had a mini-meltdown in his Round 4 heat at the 2014 Fiji Pro, which led to a loss there in Round 5. I hesitate to put too much credence in this theory but it's possible he will be searching for his competitive prowess in South Africa while most of his counterparts in tier A will be pouncing. You want to be certain your top picks can handle the heavy lifting for you, as the lower picks are more unpredictable. Kelly, Joel, and Mick look too strong to pass up for this event, leading me to sit Taj.
Ace has more than enough SPF to match J-Bay's needs, but his low seed number and lack of consistency leading up to this event concerns me. It's possible that the goofies will fare far better at Supertubes because they can stack up their backside snaps with ease, which makes them a tough draw for the regular-footers. But if you look at your options in tier B (John John Florence, Jordy, and Julian Wilson), it's a tough call to pull the trigger on Ace when, based on his average heat scores, you'll be giving up three to four points! Sit 'em.
No one has ever accused Wilko of lacking talent and flare, but there is an important factor he's missing in 2014: Heat wins. With an average heat score of 10.32 and a stack of 25th-place finishes this year, it's safe to say Wilko has been having a shocker of a season. I believe he'll turn it around, but I'm not confident that Jeffreys is the place it'll happen. All of the athletes at this level can show up and smash a heat, but at this point Wilko's not a safe bet for your team. Sit 'em.
CJ looked so on point in Fiji, exemplifying the very meaning of speed, power, and flow. With the gravity of having Occy in town for the contest, I'm guessing Ceej will be channeling all his effort to make the legend proud with a backhand tribute. C.J. has the natural instinct to engineer the right moves that J-Bay is made for. He'll be facing ADS and Alejo in Round 1, which is no walk in the park, but I wouldn't be surprised to see C.J. go deep in this event.