Derek Rielly’s picks (founder, Stab Magazine)
Winner: Kelly Slater
This is Kelly's last year promenading on tour. No more will it feel like 11pm on a warm and humid Harlem night, with Kelly's skin glistening. Kelly knows it, knows this is his last flip of the coin, and as a surf fan you might wanna pay more attention to that little desktop screen. Tahiti, Europe, Hawaii and then he's done. And so his air at Teahupoo will be more serious. Kelly is fully aware that a win will secure his legacy. And so he will win, possessing a power that will obliterate the rest.
The final: CJ Hobgood vs Kelly Slater
Clifton is a particular favourite at Teahupoo, among locals and among his peers, and he will extend his cheat and make a dash for the final. Cliff will never lose patience or courage. He'll scarcely move his stance but will win, win, win, win, win – and then lose in the final.
The dark horse you'll ride to the podium: Taj Burrow
Taj's surfing is beautiful in a queenly, Californian manner (those genetic roots), and it'll set him apart from the other World Tour beauties. Experience (15 Teahupoo contests) and a deep aversion to the ageing process means Taj will make great impressions until a fatal error in the quarter-finals sends him home with a not displeasing fifth.
The big name to stay away from: John John Florence
If it's a hundred foot, he'll come second to Kelly Slater, but if it's under six-foot you won't be able to prise him out of his home-stay bunk-bed. Yawn, says John! Like a sweet lump of sugar in hot tea, if we don't get swell, John John's desire to perform will dissolve before your eyes.
A rookie and a vet who'll surprise: Felipe Toledo and Adriano de Souza
Both of these Brazilians have the good-time attitude of a 15 year old boy about to hit his first house party. Driven by excitement, powered by curiosity, and all in the chassis of ultra high-end skill. Felipe may be a surprise to some, but not to Felipe, and not to his growing band of fans.
Chris Binns’ picks (former editor, Surfing Life Magazine)
Winner: Michel Bourez
While my colleague Derek is forecasting a return to regular tour programing in Tahiti, I am predicting the opposite. This is the event where the youth will surge! Michel, who’s performances have been nothing other than underwhelming at his home/should-be-favourite event will take his new found confidence and a burning desire to surf strong for his injured brother Kevin and turn it into one of the greatest victories the tour has seen in quite some time. Allez Spartan!
The final: John John Florence
The tour’s most talented will finally wake in 2014, thanks to the sonic alarm clock of Tahitian 10-footers. Thinking will go out the window and reflex will drive Jean Jean to la finale.
The dark horse you'll ride to the podium: Josh Kerr
JK couldn’t be more overdue if he was a videotape of Ghostbusters. He’s borderline young, in keeping with my picks, loves the madness, and is in the sort of semi-under-the-radar slot on the rankings that might see him slip into a favourable draw and slide deep into the tourney. #GoKerrzy.
The big name to stay away from: Jordy Smith
I really hope he proves me wrong, but Jordy has been up and down this year and is a risky bet for Tahiti. He’s arguably doing the best surfing of the bunch when at the peak of his powers, but as we saw in Fiji he can’t expect to simply turn up at the left tubes and turn it on.
A wildcard and a vet who'll surprise: Mitch Coleborn and Aritz Aranburu
Coleborn is gonna take his injury replacement wildcard and kick the hell out of this contest, turning in the sort of point-winning performance that thrusts him squarely back in to qualification talks. Again. On the veteran front, if 29 does a veteran make, some say Aritz Aranburu is the thinking woman’s Raoni Monteiro, and Raoni’s record has been fine here over the years. Aritz for the quarters, screw the haters!
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