Gabriel Medina Wins 2014 Billabong Pro Tahiti


All Photos: Brent Bielmann

The scale is broken…
Actually, a lot of things are broken. Michel Bourez’s realistic shot at the 2014 World Title. One of Kolohe Andino’s Mayhems. Slater enthusiasts’ hearts. And certainly, the ASP judging scale — it was relentlessly abused today, trampled by a stampede of perfection. Teahupo’o was on its beast behavior and the 12 men left in the draw surfed like they had something to prove. Out of the 11 heats, 10 featured a wave in the 9.00+ range. Six of them ended with heat totals above 19.00. Ace Buchan lost with a 19.00 heat total. John John Florence lost with a 19.77! What were the judges meant to do — not allot perfect scores to perfect surfing in perfect waves? It was the highest scoring day in ASP history and that’s a complete guess but it’s probably true. Journalism!

Morning thunder
And lightning. But really just some banter on the guys who lost in Round 5 (top) and the Quarters (bottom).

Michel Bourez: M. Bourez got B. Durbidged in the first heat of the morning and his dream of the 2014 crown officially began to crumble. Sure, he could get on a heater and win the next few events but sure, Jihad Khodr could get back on tour with a brand new repertoire of airs that would make Filipe Toledo seem dull. Some things in life are simply unlikely. But by the way, I’d love to see Michel prove me wrong.
Tiago Pires: Anybody seen this man’s feet? He sure as hell couldn’t find them this morning in his 6.16 heat total against Kolohe Andino. Still, a fantastic showing from the prince of Portugal.
Kai Otton: Kai fought the Dion Atkinson and the Dion Atkinson won. They should form a blue collar surfer’s union on tour, Kai and Dion. Bede too could join.
Brett Simpson: The #Simpotrain came screeching to a halt at Owen Wright junction today. But if you’re going to pick one event on the calendar to turn your season around and start making heats, this has got to be it. It’s one thing to find momentum in Brazil; it’s entirely different to find it at big, scary Teahupo’o. Let’s see what this confidence boost heading into Lowers.

Ace Buchan: Does it still count as losing when you lose with a 19.00 point heat total? Yes, it absolutely does. But the sting must be lessened when you go home with those 1-point-shy-of-perfection visions. And, you know, a result.
Kolohe Andino: After winning a grand total of 2 heats in the first 3 events of the year, Kolohe Andino has suddenly found himself in 8th place in the ratings. He’s ahead of John John. He’s ahead of Jordy. He’s ahead of Julian. He’s behind Gabriel, and that’s probably pissing him off. He lost to Gabe today, but proved that he’s here for business while he was at it.
Dion Atkinson: Dion eventually felt the sting of John John Florence, but he did it with a 9.43 in his pocket. How them Quarters taste bud?
Owen Wright: Owen’s name gets the extra size because he won the Andy Irons award for being the most committed surfer. And how, you ask, did he do that? By being an actual wooly mammoth. Owen was an intrepid goer all event. He threw himself over the ledge without any hesitation on the most horrific waves the South Pacific would toss at him. He’d make impossible drops and when he wouldn’t, he’d surface with a grin and give it another go. Owen’s stock totally rose this event. Buy, buy, buy!

The grandest finale
And so the semifinalist were etch into the ASP’s limestone. Gabriel Medina beat Bede Durbidge in the first semi because duh. Bede had a hell of an event, but an even more hellish heat against Gabe. 4.17 points don’t look very nice when stacked up against 18.67. Still, is there anything in life Bede can’t do? The guy has won Lowers. He making semis at Teahupo’o. Versatilely is his legal middle name.

Then the ground shook. The John John Florence VS Kelly Slater semifinal was probably one of the best heats of all time. John John threw away a 9.40 and a 9.10 — and he lost! Sip on that for a moment. The final tally ended up being locked up at 19.77 points, but Kelly got the nod because he had a higher scoring wave. That’s what a 10 will do for you. That, and force every observer to make an audible sex-like moan because that’s what people do at terrific sporting events (they make sex-like moans).

And it was time for the final. Gabriel Medina against Robert Kelly Slater. Young, old. American, Brazilian. Goofy, regular. Bald, still drinks chocolate milk. The dichotomy! Yet both so wildly talented on a surfboard. The heat started with the two surfers paddling each other up the reef and out of position like a bunch of dickheads. That lead to a heat restart, and no one truly complained. Slats was completely out of rhythm for half the heat while Gabriel built a treehouse made of scores. Finally, Kelly found an axe and started chopping away, only needing a 9.33 in the dying minutes. He got a wave — worthy of the score — then got swallowed. When you thought it was over, he caught another wave under Gabe’s priority, stalling for a long tube and tasting the excellent range. Was it the score? Was it not? The anticipation!

It was not. .03 points shy of it, in fact. So close, and not at all so far. But will this be the spark Kelly needs to make this jumped jog a real title race? Is this a new rivalry and if not, should we make it one? Or should we just ignore all that and hand the trophy over to Gabe now? We’ll see.

They say that tomorrow…
You will have no choice but to carry on with the mundanities of your day-to-day life and the 2014 Billabong Pro Tahiti will be nothing more than a big, blue, saccharine memory. Like that of a first kiss. —Brendan Buckley