Heading into the Billabong Rio Pro, Gabriel Medina was leading the Dream Tour and about to compete in home waters. With the event finishing in dramatic style yesterday, he leaves a couple spots from the top in equal 4th place – level on points with Michel Bourez, who claimed victory in Brazil.
The Spartan, victorious.
The Tahitian champ showed tenacity, an impressive display of fitness, and some fine surfing to clinch the title. His opponent was Kolohe Andino, who had earlier in the day upset one of the South African contingent, Travis Logie, in a heat that both would hope to soon forget.
Halfway through that Round 5 encounter, Travis used his priority to block the Californian, who was unable to kick-out without getting in Travis’ way. An interference by Kolohe was called and the advantage swung the Durban local’s way, since his opponent would only be counting one scoring ride. To drive home that advantage, a surfer needs to score at least two five-plus rides to ensure themselves a spot in the next round. Travis only managed a pair of low three-pointers, which left the door open for Kolohe to catch a wave just before the buzzer that included the possibility of advancing. Kolohe dropped into a draining left and grabbed his rail to negotiate the hollow section, before standing up with both arms in the air. Replays suggest the Californian was barely in the barrel, but the judges saw enough to award a 6.83 and Travis was eliminated from the event.
Kolohe recorded his best result on the Dream Tour to date – 2nd place.
The reigning Rio champ, Jordy Smith, looked likely to repeat his 2013 heroics. He’d won every heat on the way to the quarter finals, and appeared to have plenty more to offer as he faced-off against Michel Bourez. That the Tahitian went on to win the event tells you everything you need to know about the heat. The waves went Michel’s way, and Jordy struggled to find anything meaningful.
Earlier in the day (on the first wave ridden), Kelly Slater eliminated the last remaining Brazilian from the event when he rode a gurgling backhand pit to score a perfect 10. Actually, it was probably waiting for a wave that never came that led to Adriano’s demise. Kelly then beat Nat Young in the quarter-finals, before losing to Kolohe Andino in the semi-finals. The equal 3rd place finish in Brazil secured enough ratings points to move the 11-time world champ to a familiar position in the world rankings – number 1.
Michel Bourez was finding all the best waves and clinched a deserved victory in Rio.
Michel Bourez was unstoppable in the latter rounds. Clinching his first WCT victory at Margaret River in April has raised his expectations, and now he’s not stoked unless he is winning events. His second victory this season has put him firmly amongst the title challengers in 4th position.
The Rio Womens Pro final featured a contest between Carissa Moore (HAW) and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS). The Hawaiian opened the encounter strongly with an 8.50 ride. On a run of back-to-back victories, she looked to be cruising to a third. Sally was most definitely not going to let that happen and dominated the rest of the heat to grab a winning total of 16.27pts that included a 9.27 along with a 7.00.
Sally Fitzgibbons’ backhand was a lethal weapon.
Carissa Moore looked a likely winner with some of the biggest turns of the event.
Carissa still holds a 6,300pt lead on the Dream Tour rankings, but Sally did manage to close the gap and will be looking to keep the momentum going as the tour heads to Fiji for the Volcom Pro. After a strong start to the season, Bianca Buitendag suffered a disappointing early round loss and dropped to 7th in the ratings. She’ll be looking to get barrelled off her head at Cloudbreak (or Restaurants) to get herself back in the title race.