Gabriel Medina defeated Julian Wilson to be crowned the 2017 MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro Champion, and in doing so, didn’t bump, but rather shoved Jordy Smith out the way to become the new world number 2, as well as a frighteningly more menacing prospect to John Florence’s dream of defending his world title.
In a few weeks’ time, it may not be the pounding overhead Pipeline surf smashing at Florence’s’ door keeping him up at night, It could well be Medina’s fist knocking it down, to smash the cabinet, grab the trophy and violently turn his world upside down.
Gabriel Medina, once again, just became the most dangerous competitive surfer in the world.
Medina has back to back victories in Europe, Jordy Smith has 2 x 13th place finishes, Julian Wilson is back in the hunt and John Florence still holds the advantage going into the Billabong Pipeline Masters, but only just.
Cover Image: WSL / Laurent Masurel
Murphy’s law of combat – If the enemy is in range, so are you.
Nothing sums up Gabriel Medina’s intent more clearly.
Instead of paralysis and vulnerability when under assault in close combat, instead of rolling over, playing dead and hoping the enemy doesn’t see you flinch when they kick you in the ribs, Medina stands up… and attacks. And the closer the quarter, the better. It’s more personal that way. Eye to eye. Toe to toe.
There’s more satisfaction in taking from the enemy what they think is theirs, but is rightfully yours. There’s closure that way. And that’s what Medina does. He closes.
No one shuts out an opponent with more authority, menace and bloody minded self-belief. Unfortunately for those standing in Gabriel’s way, there’s now an unsettling confidence to his form, every wave ridden a statement of intent, backed by natural ability and driven forward by mercenary planning.
It’s unfair not to mention the strength of Julian Wilson’s grounded and paced MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro campaign or the ferocity and energy that Kolohe Andino brought to the event. Outside of ‘dead eye’ Medina’s brutality, no other surfers looked hungrier for the win than Wilson and Andino.
Wilson, as always, was all timing and flow in the turns, showed huge pop in the air and an unmistakable accuracy to read the pace of Supertubos’ shape shifting barrels. His 6.27 pit in the final almost did the job against Medina.
Andino was breathing fire from round one. For me, few surfed with more controlled kinetic pace and fury than Brother. His massive punts, all punctuated with a near perfect landing rate ratio, the tube sense and timing faultless (who can forget the 9.07 near impossible drainer in round 2) and an overall desire to prove he belongs in the top 10. Hell, even the top 5. He did, after all, take down Florence in the quarters and came damn close to doing the same in round 4.
Murphy’s law of combat – The easy way is always mined.
Jordy Smith rolled over. There’s no easy way to say it. It doesn’t come easier than when your good mate falls on the grenade to ensure your survival, only for you to sabotage your own fate by not taking action and have the whole thing blow up in your face.
Even with priority, Josh Kerr refused to sit on and hustle Jordy, giving him all the room to move and chase down the paltry 4.5 needed to advance and keep his maiden world title dream alive. Waves were shifty and slow, but it’s hard to imagine John or Gabe not closing that one out.
Instead, Smith somehow contrived to lose the heat and went out with a whimper. His surfing looked flat and uninspired, dialled right back to around 65% when it should have been red lining, considering what was at stake and the benevolence offered by good friend, and soon to be retired, Kerr.
I’m probably going to take a lot of heat for saying this, but there were absolutely no positives to take out of Jordy Smith’s European leg. He needed to change up his performance post France, there was no savagery in the mental approach, instead of attacking opponents and staking a claim on their territory, he surrendered.
I’m a huge Jordy Smith fan, and like all of his supporters, I would love nothing more than to see him win a world title. But this approach is not the way forward. Time for one more reset and one more big effort at Pipe to turn it all around. Thanks to Kolohe, he still has a shot at that inaugural JS world title in Hawaii, even if he does need a few heats to go his way. #BringithomeJords
If the enemy is in range, so are you… something Gabriel Medina will need no reminding of come the Billabong Pipe Masters 8 to 20 December.
See you there, on the armchair. I can’t wait.
World Title Scenarios going into the Billabong Pipe Masters:
– If Florence gets 1st or 2nd at Pipe he will clinch the World Title;
– If Florence gets a 3rd, Medina will need a 1st at Pipe to win the World Title;
– If Florence gets a 5th, Medina will need a 1st at Pipe to win the World Title;
– If Florence gets a 9th, Medina will need a 2nd, Smith a 1st;
– If Florence, gets a 13th or 25th, Medina will need a 5th, Smith a 2nd and Wilson a 1st.