A horrific story of almost famous.
Thirty-four thousand played Fantasy Surfer last year. I finished second.
Not first, who won an all expenses paid week vacation for two to the North Shore’s Turtle Bay Resort, and not sitting somewhere between 2000th and 20000th like the majority of the frothers that try their luck. No, I came in 75 lousy points behind the winner. The equivalent of a couple minor victories over the entire 561 heats ran over the 11-stop Tour. What are the odds? I’ll tell you god damn it. One in thirty-four thousand! And what did the corporate owned Fantasy Surf League give out to the obviously genius runner up?
First, let’s break it down so you too can be a loser. My strategy started off loose. I like my regular footers, even at lefts. And I also lean toward the cool factor: stylish outside the water, good looking even. These things matter. Luke Stedman is the greatest surfer to ever don a jersey and that’s science. Let the record state I’d previously never finished in the Top 10000 following this formula.
So it was cool, non-passionate, regular footers only. Then, by chance, a funny thing happened. At Margaret’s my overachieving team that would make any women swoon finished 3rd overall. I thought it was a typo. Then another top placing followed at the despised Bells Beach. It was time to get serious. Turtle Bay was to be mine. So I crunched stats and put an actual strategy together for my Rio Pro team. I bombed. Two dropped scored out of 4 events. Not good, but I still had visions of the glitz and glamour of winning FS. I needed to tap into something otherworldly – a spirit animal. So I ‘became’ Peter Brand (Jonah Hill’s brainy character from Money Ball) and created a similarly sophisticated sabermetric approach – but tailored to competitive surfing – and used it to analyze and pick athletes.
My new teams disgusted the real me. Brazilians and their claiming. Gross. Goofy footers. Much worse! But it worked. Event after event the points were there.
Coming into Hawaii I was a dark horse, narrowly sitting outside the top 20. Exactly where I wanted. If you dropped the leader board’s lowest events I was actually in the lead. I could taste Mai Tai on my tongue. How many could I drink in one week? 100? A mental list was made with whom I was going to take. Babe or buddy? It would be a tough choice.
The Pipe heat matchups were drawn and I discovered ASPsneak.com. Insiders on the beach were giving me tips on who was in form. I double-checked the forecast and no doubt I was getting all 8 past the 3rd round. That’s the secret.
Everything was in place and the huge NW swell hit. Then KP didn’t say #Itson. Then the forecast changed. I was fucked. My team was not built for a head high Backdoor shootout. They were warriors ready to meet their maker at classic, meaty Pipe. I gave up. Crushed, I don’t even remember if I watched the final. But I logged in to FS a couple hours just to see how I faired. Maybe I’d remained in the Top 100?
I didn’t even have to click off the homepage. There it was beside my avatar Jonah Hill’s chubby little face – 2nd. The first loser, but also… SECOND! Fuck yeah! What was I gonna win… some surfboards? Some wetties? A lifetime worth of boxy tee’s and tech boardies that I could donate to the less fortunate? A quick email to the mates at SURFER was returned with this:
Congrats on finishing second. That’s pretty impressive. Unfortunately we don’t have a prize for second place, but we’re working on that for this year. We’re also looking to give prizes out at each event. I know that doesn’t help you now, but keep the momentum rolling. You’ll be raking in prizes if you do.”
– SURFER staff member
Nothing! You win absolutely nothing!!! Images of storming the Turtle Bay stage with fingers raised played in my mind. But still… SECOND! I am a prophet.
Fast-forward to 2015 and my new side-hustle: a FS ghost team picker. Multiple industry bros wanted help for their intercompany “team building” Fantasy Surf Leagues. Some are close friends; others cold called, either way I get a healthy cut of all their winnings. On top of this I’m registered in a handful of private clubs with cash money prizes. Once I sweep these gambling rings and cash out I’ll book my own damn trip to Turtle Bay and drink as many Mai Tai’s as I want!
Note: Currently, I sit on the cusp of falling outside the top 10 000. Prizes are not being raked in. The dream is over.