Picks ten out of eleven event winners…
Moments ago, you read about the WSL’s Fantasy Surfer winner Zmonde, and how his victory came and went unremarked and unacknowledged by the owners of the game.
Zmonde is Shane Starling, a forty-eight-year-old cycling enthusiast and occasional surfer who was in Perth, Western Australia, where he grew up, to help his brother fit out of a beer bar before he goes back to Berlin where he now lives.
Shane, who picked ten of the eleven event winners, says he’s only being doing the WSL’s Fantasy Surfer for two years, doesn’t know about Surfer magazine’s version and calls the competition a “dead platform, really. You can’t communicate with other players, you can’t banter. And if they gave even a small prize it would make the competition more lively. You play the game and that’s it.”
Apart from backing Jordy Smith all year except at Pipe (“He moved to Hawaii, looked fit and the only reason I didn’t back him at Pipe was because of his injury at Sunset”), choosing dark horses to separate him from the pack (Griffin Colapinto was his go-to), Shane says it was the power of visualisation that gave him his edge.
He describes lying on his bed, going into a meditative state, “putting on some Captain Beefheart”, and being there on the day of the finals and watching Joe Turpel present the medals on the podium.
It didn’t work at the Freshwater Pro, says Shane, because the “system was so different. I went off-piste and chose dark horses that didn’t pay off.”
Other winning habits? Shane scrolls through the Instagram feeds of all the surfers to see if there are any injuries and how happy they are, “if you get a vibe off someone.”
He follows various stat-based surf accounts to see their teams and he doesn’t confirm his team until right before the event and he’s seen who everybody else is picking.
“If everyone is picking Gabby, sometimes I’ll change to someone else. Dark horses make the difference. If they do good and you’re on them there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be up there. Like Griffin at Pipe. He was on the cusp of not prequalifying if he didn’t get a good result. He’s a hellman, doesn’t mind pulling in. The factors were there.”
Shane grew up surfing around Perth, the fishing town of Geraldton a few hours north and the satellite city Mandurah, an hour south of Perth.
When he moved to the northern hemisphere, first to London, then France and Berlin, he surfed less and less.
“I miss it,” he says. “It’s one of those things. I do more cycling these days.”
As for his no-prize victory he says, “I don’t understand the Wozzle half the time.”
(Note: As per suggestion from BeachGrit commentator, Bex Vidina, BeachGrit t-shirts and car air freshener have been dispatched.)