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Moneyball: Gabriel or John to Win France!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Gabriel, almost unbeatable at Hossegor. John John in outrageous form.

I love a little Moneyball. Throw the stats into the machine, spit out a winner. Forget reputations. Forget who’s got the big-money stickers wrapped around their beaks.

Do you remember last month when the thirty-something school teacher Balyn McDonald predicted the outcome of Trestles via the cold machinery of statistics. Filipe and Mick all day, he said.  

One out of two ain’t bad.

Tomoz, or maybe later today, the Quiksilver Pro is going to light up on Hossegor’s always difficult to predict sandbars. Who’s going to win?

Let’s roll some of Bal’s numbers.


Gabriel Medina has entered the contest six times for four finals, two wins. His worst result is a fifth. In 2010, he won the King of the Groms there with a perfect heat score. “It’s his contest,” says Balyn.

John John Florence is on top, or close to top, of all the relevant categories: average event heat score, best results in peaks and over the last two contests he’s been averaging better than sixteen points per heat, the best on tour.

Filipe Toledo. Balyn ran the numbers of what he calls his “form column”, how each surfers last three events compare to their career heat average. Jordy swings in at ninth, but is averaging a full-point better than his career heat score. Mick is slightly lower than usual. But Filipe. He’s hitting 15.61 over a career average of 12.92. Two wins out of the last three events.

Who to avoid

Joel Parkinson averages a paltry 9.82 over the past three years. “And his form lately has been pretty awful,” says Bal. “He’s averaging 11.38, one-and-a-half points below his career average. He’s in a slump. They reckon he’s going to run again next year but the numbers tell a different story. He doesn’t seem psyched.”

Bede Durbidge. Two finals out of eleven events but also three last-place 33rds and two 25ths. Five events without a heat win. Too hot to touch.

Wiggolly Dantas. “Hasn’t won a heat here in his two years on tour. Has the second-worst average heat score or the event over his four heats (9.57).”

Dark Horse

Kolohe Andino. Has the equal second-best average event placing in France. Gabriel wins, averaging second, but John and Kolohe both average a (non-existent) seventh placing. Keanu Asing is in there too, but with only two events there, and his average is skewed by last year’s win.

And really don’t touch 

The beautiful, but sadly can’t-win-a-damn-thing, Miguel Pupo. One heat win out of six and the lowest average heat score from the last three events.

Visit Balyn’s website Surf-Stats here. 

And watch last year’s highlights here.