Big data has taken over most bat and ball sports. Bespectacled Ivy Leaguers with masters degrees in statistics run the best teams in the biggest markets. Online gambling sites run amok with amateur stat geeks waiting to take your money. Fantasy sports -- like Fantasy Surfer -- have even infiltrated the adventure sports landscape. Soulful purists scoff and cynics condemn, but data crunching can provide insight and clarity without taking away all the fun. Here are some fresh numbers from the WSL's stat team to dig into.
Still the Greatest of All Time...But...
When you're called the GOAT there's bound to be a long list of unrivaled stats that coincide with that moniker. Kelly Slater's most amazing stat beyond his 11 World Championships may be his 55 career wins. That's 2.5 times more than the next closest in line currently on Tour: Mick Fanning (with 22), followed by Joel Parkinson (with 12), Adriano de Souza and Gabriel Medina each have seven. Remarkably, Slater's won 12 percent of all the events he's entered since his first win in 1992 in France, covering 459 events in all.
But he's only won once since the 2014 season (Tahiti Pro 2016) and his last World Title was back in 2011, although he did finish ranked 2nd overall in 2012 and 2013. If you're a CT surfer and you're looking for a positive in these numbers, after 25 years on Tour Slater's finally slipping, if only by fewer than a couple of percentage points.
Are Yesterday's Superpowers Fading?
Since the 2010 season, a micro trend of multiple-event winners has held steady. Over the past seven seasons, 5.7 events per year have been won by an average of 2.2 surfers. With over 50 percent of all the event titles split between two, sometimes three surfers, that leaves the other 30-something surfers on Tour to scrap for the remaining five events.
Bucking that trend, however, has been the 2017 season, at least at the midway point of the year. There has been a different winner at every stop -- Owen Wright, John John Florence, Jordy Smith, Adriano de Souza and Matt Wilkinson have all brought home a trophy. But with six events still left on the calendar, it's much too early to say that trend's ended. Especially considering Smith and De Souza are good bets at J-Bay, followed by Teahupo'o favorites Florence and Wright.
Californians Can't Close the Deal
There are currently three Californians on the Championship Tour. World No. 9 Kolohe Andino, No. 25 Conner Coffin and No. 32 Nat Young, who has been an injury replacement wildcard at every stop on tour so far in 2017. Between them they've been to seven career Finals, three each for Andino and Young, once for Coffin. And yet, there's not a single victory in those seven tries. More so, since 2010 there have been 10 Californians who've appeared on the CT (Andino, Young, Coffin, Bobby Martinez, Brett Simpson, Dane Reynolds, Pat and Tanner Gudauskas, Nate Yeomans, Timmy Reyes), but not a single surfer has been able to bring it home for the bear flag state.
Even more striking is that a Californian hasn't won on Tour since Bobby Martinez did it at Teahupo'o in 2009. In fact, Martinez won four times in his brilliant but volatile career, taking the win at Teahupo'o twice (2006, 2009) and twice in Mundaka, Spain (2006, 2007). Martinez, much like Matt Wilkinson this season, is a surfer known for his backhand attack, yet was able to produce the goods in roping left-hand tubes.
When Connor O'Leary advanced into the Final of the Outerknown Fiji Pro it was an unexpected, albeit well earned result for the 2017 CT rookie. Although, rookies making Finals are not as rare as it might seem. As recently as October 2016, Conner Coffin finished runner-up to John John Florence in the Final of the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal. Proving once again that surfing your way into a CT Final is difficult, winning is even harder, but maybe it helps to be named Connor. Or Conner.