Medina wins 2017 MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal
The penultimate contest of the 2017 WSL Championship Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Portugal, served up some epic surf during the waiting period, but the big story coming out of Europe was Gabriel Medina's dominance. After winning the Quiksilver Pro in Hossegor, France, two weeks later he landed in Peniche, Portugal and bagged his second victory in as many tries. The result, his eighth career win on tour, puts him squarely in the race for the world title, which will culminate with the Pipeline Masters this December.
Now he's tired
"I'm really happy right now, I had a goal to just win an event in Europe so to win those two is incredible," said Medina after the awards ceremony in Portugal. "Now I feel tired, that was a lot of work! Julian [Wilson] got me so many times so it feels good to get one back over him. When he got the score at five minutes I thought 'Oh My God,' not again, but I kept going and I'm so stoked I won in the end."
A couple of exchanges
Julian Wilson and Medina tangled earlier this year in a great final in Tahiti. They also met in the final of the 2012 Rip Curl Pro Portugal. Wilson got the better of him in both cases. "We always get a good test coming here to Peniche," said Wilson. "It can be intimidating, or super exciting going for big airs. I'm glad we got a couple of exchanges in that heat and congratulations to Gabriel."
World title scenarios
After his win in Portugal, the world title race scenario plays out like this: If John John Florence gets first or second at Pipe, he will clinch the World Title. But if Florence gets a third, Gabriel Medina will need a first at Pipe to win the World Title. And if Florence gets a fifth, Medina will need a first at Pipe to win the World Title. Additionally, if Florence gets a ninth, Medina will need a second, Jordy Smith a first. Finally, if Florence, gets a 13th or 25th, Medina will need a fifth, Smith a second and Julian Wilson a first.
A hundred percent
With world title implications on the line, California's Kolohe Andino edged out Florence in a tight quarterfinal heat to send the race to Hawaii. "Six years on tour and I feel like I've never surfed at 100 percent, but yesterday, I feel like I did that so I'm really happy," said Andino. "I'm trying to be honest with myself and get better at the things I need to get better at so I'll continue to work hard on that."
Looking to win at home
For Florence, anything but a first-place finish comes as a bit of a disappointment. He could have clinched the title in Europe, but will have a good shot on his home turf on the North Shore of Oahu. "I get to go home now and I'm really excited to go surf Pipe and hopefully we get some good waves. If I win at home, it will be even more meaningful I feel like," said a somewhat dejected Florence.
Mick Fanning surfed well en route to the quarterfinals, but couldn't find a scoring ride against Medina. Unable to get past the quarters all season long, there has been some speculation that the three-time world champion may hang up the jersey at the end of the season.
Favorite part of the tour
Posting his best result of the year, Kanoa Igarashi ended up losing out to Medina in the semifinals, giving him a very respectable third-place finish. "This back-end of the year is my favorite part," said Igarashi. "Hopefully with this result I get in that Top 22 and open up a spot on the QS for maybe some of my other friends. Pipe is such a special place for me, especially with what happened at the end of last year there for me, I'm really excited to be going to Hawaii now."
Work cut out
Two fifth-place results in France and Portugal have moved Miguel Pupo up to 23rd on the WSL rankings. To qualify for the tour in 2018, he'll have to climb one more spot as the top 22 get an automatic bid to return the following season. Needless to say, he'll have his work cut out for him in Hawaii.
Skills to win
Comfortably slotted at tenth on the WSL ratings, a second and fifth in Europe will give Sebastian Zietz the freedom to enjoy his winter at home on Hawaii. An accomplished Pipe surfer, with all the weight off his shoulders, don't be surprised to see him go deep at the Pipe Masters. He has the skills to contend for a win out there. Tune into ABC's "World of X Games" on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 12 p.m. ET to watch the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, and sit tight for Pipe Masters in December.