Header photo courtesy Leo za1
In case you weren’t aware, the final stop on the Men’s Surfing Championship Tour 2018 just wrapped, bringing to a conclusion the year’s competition and officially crowning a World Title winner.
There was plenty of intrigue coming into Billabong Pipe Masters in Hawaii. Because Brazilian Italo Ferreira won MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal back in Oct. (defeating Gabriel Medina in the semifinals), it forced the latter to make one final charge in Oahu. Coming into the event atop the Jeep Leaderboard, Medina had to at least make the finals in order to clinch the title. He faced stiff competition coming in from Julian Wilson and Filipe Toledo—if either one won Pipe Masters or if either advanced to the final and Medina fell short of the podium, the title would be up for grabs.
Amid the 12-to-15 foot barrels of Billabong, however, Medina demonstrated once again what makes him so special.
Medina—already the first Brazilian to win a world title back in 2014—was dominant in this event. While Julian Wilson also put big numbers on the board during the final (a repeat of the ’14 final, which Wilson won), Medina was not to be denied this time. He bested Wilson’s 16.70 with an 18.34 to take both the Pipe Masters top prize and the World Title in one fell swoop.
"I think winning Pipe is the hardest one to win. You have to be good at Backdoor and Pipe at the same time. Just getting barreled is not enough. You have to be deep, you have to get the best ones," said Medina prior to the awards ceremony. "It's great to have this opportunity and put my name alongside all the other Pipe heroes."
Full event results:
1 – Gabriel Medina (BRA) 18.34
2 – Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.70
SF 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.27 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.83
SF 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.20 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 11.17
QF 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.16 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 6.93
QF 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 19.43 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 14.26
QF 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.53 def. Yago Dora (BRA) 10.17
QF 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.50 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 10.07
Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.50, Conner Coffin (USA) 9.43, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 7.93
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.90, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 11.93, Michel Bourez (PYF) 6.57
Heat 3: Yago Dora (BRA) 15.97, Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.44, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 7.77
Heat 4: Joan Duru (FRA) 10.80, Kelly Slater (USA) 9.20, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 7.00
While he may have started off the 2018 season a little rocky, Gabriel Medina flipped a switch mid-season and rattled off back-to-back victories in Tahiti and the first-ever Surf Ranch Pro. He was strong, if not dominant, in the European leg, too, earning a 4,740-point lead over Julian Wilson on the leaderboard headed into Pipe Masters.
"Filipe and Julian have been surfing really good all year long," said Medina. "They've been pushing the limits. It's been an honor to be in the World Title race with them. I think they are the two best on Tour. I'm a big fan of them.”
Julian Wilson’s goal has been to nab a World Title and, while he may have come up short in 2018, the progress is clearly there. Bear in mind that Wilson was 8th in the final overall standings in 2016 before moving to third in 2017 and now runner-up this year. Most impressive of all? He had a busted-up shoulder for the first half of this season.
We can’t wait to see what 2019 holds for Wilson, Medina, and all the rest.