If you're wondering which squad is most likely to play the spoiler role at the upcoming Founders Cup look no further than the Europe Team - a compilation of stars known for creating upheaval. Each one of them is a renowned giant slayer, so the notion of them joining forces to take on the world is more than a little enticing, and their combined track record of success is a testament to just how deep and wide the European talent pool is these days. Here's a look.
Captain Johanne Defay
Johanne Defay remains an unheralded hero of the women's Championship Tour. Since joining the elite ranks in 2014 she's been a leading crusader in the push for more progressive surfing. She formulated her ambitious style at home on Reunion Island, but her path to the pros went through her birthplace in France. She's finished No. 5 in the world in 2016, and has a long history of taking out World Title contenders with her progressive moves. She's solid under pressure, and loves playing to the crowd, so look for Defay to thrive in her leadership role.
If you need to be reminded of just how dangerous Jeremy Flores is just rewind to the final twenty seconds of the 2017 Billabong Pipe Masters. His last second heroics kept John John Florence from getting his hands on the Pipe Master's crown he's been longing for his entire life, and this wasn't the first time Jeremy's pulled that kind of stunt. The fiery Frenchman comes equipped with the full spectrum of moves, and a deadly tube-riding game to boot. He's the most successful European surfer of all time, and you can bet he'll be playing the role of vocal leader, rallying the troops.
The power monger from Portugal has taken the world by surprise over the last 18 months. After coming from nowhere in the final three events of the 2016 season to Qualify for the Championship Tour last year, Morais kept the hits coming with some standout performances at Jeffreys Bay and Bells Beach during his rookie season, and finished No. 14 on the Jeep Leaderboard. Yet despite his solid results he remains a very stealth threat. His surfing was designed for waves that are fast and hollow, so the Surf Ranch should play right into his hands.
The charismatic Italian had a rough rookie season in 2017, and is back on the Qualifying Series this year, where he's already earned a win at the recent Martinique Pro. Like his personality, his surfing is big, colorful and filled with flair. Leo (who's been one of Kelly Slater's students since he was ten years old) has also had his share of waves at the Surf Ranch, and knows its ins and outs. His huge man hacks will be counterbalanced nicely with his creative approach above the lip. Leo is a showman, so prepare to be entertained.
Frankie Harrer isn't a household name yet, but give that a little time. She's been flying hot on the industry radar for years now for one good reason: raw talent. She's lightning quick, is dangerous in every direction, and as her win at the Wahine Pipe Masters proves, she knows the tube well. Of course, the rub on Frankie is her results haven't actually lived up to her hype. She's still only ranked No. 42 on the Qualifying Series. That she was chosen shows just how much faith her teammates have in her. They're counting on Frankie to turn some heads.