In 2017 the Jeep Leader Jersey was worn by four different surfers during what turned out to be a very close race for the World Title. This year it's already been worn by Tyler Wright, Lakey Peterson and Stephanie Gilmore. By the looks of things, this year is shaping up to be even more of a barn burner than last year, which makes the trip to Saquarema all the more interesting. For the second year in a row Gilmore is coming in hot after a great Australian leg, yet Brasil's beachbreaks have been the one big black hole in her career, and the headwinds are stronger than ever with today's very versatile women's field. That's just one thing on fantasy player's minds as they mull over their options. Here's a range of strategies they'll be looking at as they make their decisions.
Tier A (choose one)
Options: Stephanie Gilmore, Lakey Peterson, Carissa Moore
Play it Safe: Carissa Moore's the only one in this tier who's made Finals appearances in Brasil. Her heat win percentage here is at 70%, compared to Steph's 54% and Lakey's 51%.
Roll the Dice: Lakey seems to be surfing with more swagger this year, as we witnessed on the Gold Coast. Saquarema's bouncy beachbreak isn't her wheelhouse, but isn't outside her comfort zone either.
The Contrarian Play: Betting on Steph here is a bit of a gamble. Though she's nabbed six World Titles and surfed more events in Brasil than any woman on Tour, she has yet to appear in a single Final.
Tier B (choose two)
Options: Tatiana Weston-Webb, Caroline Marks, Tyler Wright, Johanne Defay, Nikki Van Dijk, Keely Andrew, Sally Fitzgibbons, Silvana Lima, Malia Manuel
Play it Safe: Sally Fitzgibbons and Tyler Wright are statistically the two most dominant surfers at this event. Sally's earned two wins while Tyler's already nabbed three, and both have HWP's upwards of 70% (Sally's is 76, while Tyler's is 72). Tyler's dominance is even more evident when you consider she's turned in 11 excellent scoring heats, which is six more than her closest competitor.
Roll the Dice: Rookie Caroline Marks will be surfing the Saquarema left on her forehand and she's a pretty darn good beachbreak surfer. Johanne Defay is also in her element in this type of environment, as it suits the progressive side of her approach. Silvana Lima certainly deserves a good look as well given the fire she's been showing of late.
The Contrarian Play: Tatiana Weston-Webb has yet to get past the Quarterfinals in the Rio based event. Given she's vowed to surf for Brasil in the upcoming Olympic Games she'll be looking to make her case this year.
Tier C (choose one)
Options: Coco Ho, Sage Erickson, Bronte Macaulay, Paige Hareb, Pauline Ado
Play it Safe: Coco Ho's 39% HWP in Brasil is hardly anything to rave about but it's the best of the bunch in this tier, and she has appeared in a Final in Brasil. The waves fit her approach, she'll just need to bring the fire, which she has been doing as of late.
Roll the Dice: Wildcard Pauline Ado is as good a bet as any here to take down a high seed like Steph in the early rounds. She cut her teeth in fickle beachbreak, so she should feel comfortable in her surroundings.
The Contrarian Play: Paige Hareb hasn't shown us much this year on Tour, but her breakout performance at the Founders' Cup is likely to have injected her with some confidence, and she's capable of unleashing her power game in conditions like this.
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