Photo courtesy Jim Bahn
WSL Surf Ranch Pro—the eighth stop on the 2018 WSL Surfing Championship Tour and the first instance ever that a WSL event has been held at a surf ranch—concluded on Sunday. Both the men and women went hard af but, of course, there could only be one winner in each division.
Kelly Slater’s new $30 million facility provided a truly unique tour stop. Home to “the world’s longest open-barrel artificial wave,” surfer vs. surfer heats were dropped in favor of solo attempts on three left waves and three right waves provided by the artificial system. Of all the participants, only the Top 8 qualifying men and Top 4 women advanced to Sunday’s thrilling final.
While world number 1, Filipe Toledo of Brazil, was a favorite coming in and performed fantastically well, it was a fellow countryman that took top honors at WSL Surf Ranch Pro 2018.
Gabriel Medina didn’t look so hot coming out of the gate but, in the end, it didn’t matter. A surprising fall on the opening left wave didn’t portend well for his chances but the dude battled back with a fantastic 8.73 score on the right run. Later, a makeup left wave was awarded to all participants due to a mysterious technical error in the wave system. Medina boldly grabbed command of the opportunity, nailing his ending air and nabbing a damn-near-perfect 9.13. The big win is Medina’s second tour win of 2018.
“It was amazing to win again, especially here at the Surf Ranch, and it feels good to get a little closer to Filipe (Toledo),” Medina said. “Filipe is so dangerous, he’s probably the best at the Surf Ranch, so it’s special to win. There are no words. I am so happy right now. I surfed the way I wanted to. It’s totally different from surfing in the ocean, but I’ll take it! It’s the most high-performance wave I think we’ve ever surfed and it’s good to feel we are on level ground with the other guys. There are three more events so they should be fun ones.”
While Medina may have taken top honors, the World’s #1 had something to say, though, too.
“Filipe’s 9.8 right was far and away the best 45 seconds of the event, and set a benchmark for what’s possible here,” Kelly Slater said. […] “You literally can’t find more spots on the wave to throw things in than he did.”
The Top 8 men’s results are as follows:
1 – Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.86
2 – Filipe Toledo (BRA) 17.03
3 – Kelly Slater (USA) 16.27
4 – Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 15.77
5 – Owen Wright (AUS) 15.40
6 – Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.37
7 – Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 15.07
8 – Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.96
Six-time world champion and current #1 on the Women’s ASP Tour, Aussie Stephanie Gilmore, may have been the heavy favorite coming into the weekend due to her amazing pre-event practice runs at the Surf Ranch, but it was Hawaii’s Carissa Moore that took the top spot.
Moore, a three-time WSL champion, relished the new setting, scoring her first WSL win of the season. She came out strong start-to-finish on Sunday, immediately posting two kickass scores in her very first run. The second run was no less impressive, resulting in a 17.80 total score (out of 20).
Moore’s Surf Ranch win grants her 10,000 tour points and catapults her into the No. 4 spot on the leaderboard.
“The pool is such a new thing,” Moore said. “It’s a wonderful canvas; it really shows what kind of surfer you are and it’s a different kind of pressure.”
“I’m ecstatic to walk away with a win at the Surf Ranch Pro and this facility is such a new thing, so it’s such an honor to be a part of. It’s been a crazy year so far and we have two more events, and I’m just super stoked. My biggest goal is just to finish the year off strong and re-qualify because I’m not in the Title race. I just want to have a strong performance and gain some confidence hopefully for next year.”
Stephanie Gilmore didn’t quite have the day she had hoped for but still placed second overall.
Women’s Final Results:
1 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 17.80
2 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.70
3 – Lakey Peterson (USA) 16.57
4 – Caroline Marks (USA) 14.77
The WSL continues on to France and Portugal next!