When it comes to selecting a lineup for WSL Fantasy Surfing, Huntington Beach is the trickiest of spots. The Vans US Open of Surfing subjects the Top 17 to both completely unpredictable conditions and added event hype. With so many variables in play, the Southern California beachbreak is the ultimate testing ground for Fantasy surfing, where the winner is anyone's guess -- and this year was no exception.
Tyler Wright (AUS) was among the first curveballs. Her attempt to defend her title as US Open champ was quickly cut short in Round 2. Despite having been picked by 24 percent of Fantasy owners and featured as Rosy Hodge's dark horse pick, the Australian finished dead last in the event's Fantasy standings.
On the other hand, Johanne Defay (FRA) was started by only four percent of Fantasy owners. The Reunion Island local went on a tear to the Final, picking up a 20-point bonus by bypassing Round 2 on top of dropping double-digit scores in all of her heats thereafter. The 2014 Rookie of the Year went on to win the contest -- her first-ever CT victory.
Malia Manuel (HAW) was another Tier B surfer who turned heads as well. Although she didn't make it past the Quarterfinals, where she fell to Huntington Beach local and Jeep Leader Courtney Conlogue (USA), Manuel posted the fourth-highest event point total. Being the only athlete to double-down on 20-point bonuses, the Hawaiian finished with 84.87 total points, just a point less than Conlogue.
Although all three Tier A surfers made it past Round 4, only Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) (started by 12 percent) and Courtney Conlogue (USA) (started by 15 percent) finished in the Top 5. Carissa Moore (HAW) was started by an overwhelming 54 percent of owners, but faced a surprising exit in the Quarterfinals with a loss to Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), who was started by 9 percent of owners. Buitendag made it all the way to the Semifinals, but went on to finish eighth overall in Fantasy points due to her low heat scores.
Another disappointing performance came from Brazilian Silvana Lima. Known for her prowess in small waves, the Tier B surfer was started by 20 percent of team managers. Yet, Lima only dropped two double-digit scores before being bounced out in Round 4.
The Swatch Women's Pro at Lower Trestles is the next stop for the Top 17 and, like the US Open, features playful ramps for boosts, hacks and above-the-lip maneuvers. Although there are always surprises, it might be helpful to take these most recent Fantasy results into consideration when picking your next lineup.
The event window for the Swatch Women's Pro at Lower Trestles starts September 9. Catch all the action LIVE here and on the WSL App