Well, that went just as expected.The 2015 Oi Rio Pro wrapped Sunday in the most exciting event to ever be held in chest high closeouts. What made it so thrilling? A kid and his country, that’s what.
Lightning in a bottle. Filipe Toledo’s name is fast becoming synonymous with small-wave dominance. Slater calls him “unstoppable in waves under 4-feet” and his final against Bede Durbidge was a case in point. A unanimous 10 and a 9.87. Landing airs with such a commitment to perfection that he creased two boards making sure that he stomped them cleanly. He just surfs so much faster and lands airs so much more consistently than everyone else. That his final was against Bede was the perfect microcosm of the current state of surfing. Young Brazilian phenom trumps established guard. And Bede was ripping! But he didn’t stand a chance.
The only thing that came close to matching Filipe’s performance in the water was his class on land. He is the anti-Medina. So grateful. So humble. Sure, he’s still got that swagger, but watch him delay addressing his fans in Portuguese to individually congratulate the other finalists and tell me he doesn’t have a good head on his shoulders.
Passion envy. You know that one friend that talks loud and fast and is just constant enthusiasm? Imagine tens of thousands of him packed onto a half-mile stretch of sand watching the thing he cares most about in the world and you’ll have an idea of the energy on the beach. Just nuclear. Brazil has created an enviable standard of fandom in surfing. And as Strider said, the difference between this crowd and that of say, the US Open, is that these people are actually watching the surfing. The only foreseeable downside is a child — or a surfer — getting trampled by a stampede.
Courtney Conlogue-ing wins. While Filipe was certainly the star of the show, Courtney Conlogue played a strong supporting role. She beat Malia Manuel and Tyler Wright to reach the final against Bianca Buitendag, where she took the lead early and never gave it back. This is Courtney’s second win in a row and gives the USA our first world title hopeful since Lisa Anderson in 1997.
Race tracks. With Courtney’s win she puts herself second in the world, 2,800 points behind Carissa Moore and 8,300 points above third-place Tyler Wright. Filipe is just 550 points behind fellow countryman Adriano De Souza and 4,650 points ahead of Mick Fanning. Can Filipe keep this momentum in backhand tubes? We’ll find out in Fiji in a couple of weeks.