El Salvador Preview: Goofies Stay Home

The W$L was recently bribed by a man in a backwards cap to run an elite surfing event in a Central American cryptocurrency haven. 

Find the lie. (Hint: you can’t.)

Two-point-five million dollars in United States legal tender, or perhaps Bitcoin, was deposited into the WSL’s bank account, or perhaps digital wallet, by the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, earlier this year, in hopes of stimulating the country’s tourism sector via surfing. 

“For tourists to be interested, the conversation in El Salvador needs to be about surfing and not death,” said Bukele, who clearly hasn’t seen one of those dramatic big wave movies that tries to combine the two.

This is part of a larger plan by the Central American nation, who have invested $70 million in surf-related endeavors over the past three years, with another $100 million in funding on the way. You can read all about that here. But for now, let’s talk Punta Roca. 

Despite its consistently-fun to occasionally-excellent surf, there’s never been a CT event in El Salvador (which for all the gringos out there, translates to the salvador). 

That will all change this week, when 35 of the world’s best surfers and one ultimate surfer bless Punta Roca (translation: Puerto Rico) with their assortment of slashes, bangers, and mash for a three-day, $2.5M surfing extravaganza. 

In this piece, we’ll dissect all the need-to-know info about El Sal’s inaugural CT event, from the forecast to the heat draws to the (ir)relevant statistics and everything in between. 

After taking all these details into account, we’ll let you know who will be taking home the Bitcoin on June 18th (our predicted event end-date). 

The world according to the Line of Surf.

Forecast

Flat at the start.

Then, a couple days after the waiting period opens, the swell is expected to jump significantly, with waves potentially in the well-overhead range. Yay! Forget G-Land, the wave gods are back on our side. 

…If only it were that simple.

These sizable waves are coming less from a long-period south swell (ideal), more from a nearby tropical depression (not ideal), which is expected to hover around the coast for several days and could wreak havoc on the conditions. 

Short period waves are sub-optimal for Punta Roca, but it’s the local winds that could really spoil the broth. The predicted SE gales will rip the point to shreds, leaving the conditions more or less unsurfable for the storm’s duration. 

On the (somewhat) bright side, there is a bit of groundswell building underneath the stormsurf, so as soon as the wind dies down the waves could actually get pretty fun. 

Also worth noting: with the shrunken field, the WSL only needs three days to run, which will certainly help their cause given the unfavorable forecast. 

Overall, expect the surfers to compete in a range of conditions, from wild and wooly to small and piddly. Probably nothing like this (see below).  

But when it’s on, it’s on.

Los Numeros (did I mention I’m a big Spanish guy?)

As noted earlier, there’s never been a CT event in El Salvador, meaning there’s no direct historical data to pull for this comp. So, we’re gonna use some stats from Punta Roca’s nearest proxies. 

As far as right points go, we’re looking at J-Bay, Snapper Rock, Bells, and Barra de la Cruz as the most comparable current or recent CT venues. Regular footers have dominated these waves.

On the men’s side:

J-Bay – Medina & Occy are the only two goofy winners in 21 CT events, since 1984.
Bells Beach -Tom Carroll, Damien Hardman (twice), Barton Lynch, Occy, Wilko, and Italo have taken 7 victories for the goofs in 44 CT events, since 1976.
Snapper Rock – Mick Lowe, Gabby, Wilko and Owen are the only goofy winners in 18 CT events, since 1998.
Barra de la Cruz – Both previous winners have been regular (Andy and Jack Robbo). 

All up, that’s an 85% win rate for natural footers. 

On the Women’s side:  

The only goofy winner at any of these four locations has been Freida Zamba at Bells in 1984 and 1985, Lynette McKenzie at Snapper in 2002 and Chelsea Hedges at Snapper in 2007.

Speaking of last year specifically, in Barra de la Cruz, there was only one male goofyfooter who found himself with one of the top-10 heat totals of the event — that was eventual runner-up Deivid Silva. On the women’s side, Tati and Caroline both notched that honor. 

Punta Roca has also hosted a number of QS events in the past. Between 2011 and 2013, all six male QS finalists were natural-footers — only one of the female finalists during its 2015-16 tenure was goofy. 

So if you’re to believe the stats, Italo, Gabriel, Tati and the like should probably just stay home. That incudes Connor and Caroline too, as I wouldn’t want you to mistake my stance bias for something more nefarious.  

As far as who to watch in this event, four of Filipe’s 10 CT victories and 18 of Steph’s 32 have come on right-hand points. They’ve gotta be odds-favorites. We also love Ethan Ewing, Kanoa Ig, Griffin Cola, and don’t-call-him-a-darkhorse, Jordy Smith. On the women’s side, Carissa is due.

Filipe, when going right not wrong/left. Photo: Aaron Hughes/WSL

Who’s in, who’s out?

Surfers who’ve pulled OUT of this event include: 

  • John Florence (torn MCL)
  • Seth Moniz (unspecified knee injury)
  • Tyler Wright (had covid in G-Land, pulled out of this event for “personal reasons”)

Surfers who are in for this event include:

  • Carlos Muñoz (replacing JJF)
  • Yago Dora (replacing Seth Moniz)
  • Gabriel Medina (WSL wildcard)
  • Men’s local trials winner (TBD, but probably Bryan Perez)
  • Sally Fitzgibbons (replacing Tyler Wright)
  • Caroline Marks (WSL wildcard)
  • Tia Blanco (Ultimate Surfer wildcard)

Heat draws

We’re looking at a pretty top-heavy draw for the men, but that should sort itself out with the reseeding in Rounds 2 and 3. 

The talent level is so high right now on the women’s side, I could honestly see any of them winning the event (besides maybe one or two). This is why we love the mid-year cut.

Our picks

Betonline.ag is Stab’s official betting sponsor for the 2022 CT season. If you’ve been following along with our picks this year, you know we’ve been racking up massive $5-7 heat wins left and right — apologies if my predictions have catapulted anyone above their estimated tax bracket. 

For those looking to get filthy stinkin’ rich from watching grown men and women splash water around, I’ve placed the following wagers on hopeful El Sal event winners*:

  • $101 on Filipe Toledo at +450 to win $455
  • $20 on Jordy Smith at +6600 to win $330
  • $15 on Kanoa Igarashi at +1600 to win $240
  • $15 on Ethan Ewing at +1400 to win $210
  • $10 on Griffin Colapinto at +2000 to win $200
  • $10 on Samuel Pupo at +5000 to win $500 
  • I would put money on Carissa to win, but at +250 it just doesn’t make financial sense

Total spend:$171

R1 picks here*: 

  • $10 on Jacko Baker at +475 to win $48
  • $15 on Nat Young at +275 to win $41
  • $15 on Callum Robson at +300 to win $45
  • $10 on Caio Ibelli at +210 to win $21
  • $10 on Kolohe Andino at +215 to win $22
  • $10 on Carlos Muñoz at +550 to win $55
  • $10 on Gabriel Bryan at +350 to win $35
  • $10 on Brisa Hennessy at +155 to win $16
  • $10 on Johanne Delay at +165 to win $17

Total spend:$100

Season stats:
Pipe earnings: +$465
Bells earnings: +$337
Margaret River earnings: +$136
G-Land earnings: +$101
2022 Season earnings:  $1,039

Place your own bets here (responsibly).

*odds may have changed since my original bets were made — snooze ya lose.

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