Jordy goes down

It was a close round 3 heat against Matt Wilko and at the end of the heat Jordy needed a mere 0.07 to get in front and take the win from the goofy-footed battler, but it was not to be and Wilko survived. Wilko went on to advance out of his fourth round heat to the quarterfinals, and currently placed at 28th on the Jeep Leaderboard, needs to get through that quarter to keep his own WCT dream alive. Jordy put up a big fight and was obviously disappointed with the result, but he has had a good year on the Championship Tour and always does well in Hawaii, especially at Sunset and Haleiwa. So there’s still that for the big guy.

Filipe goes down.

This was a big one. Joan Duru was on fire against Filipe; desperately chasing requalification – currently placed 33rd on the Jeep Leaderboard – the Frenchman was not going to back down against the flyboy. It was as close as it gets, and Duru was chasing a mid 5–point ride at the closing minutes and seemed to be hunting down a left to finish off. The lefts had not been very good all day, and it was a bit confusing to puzzle out what he was up to. All he was really doing was making some space for himself, and it worked out well. With less than 2 minutes to go, Joan picked up a mid-sized right-hander, and pulled into a tight backhand barrel and came clean out of with a little zephyr of foam on his back. He capitalised on the wave with a neat tag, and finished off with a solid closeout bash to keep everyone waiting on the edge of his or her seats. While Duru walked up the beach, and with Filipe still in the water, the score came in at an honest 6 points, and Filipe was out of the game, and out of a Portuguese world title chase.

Italo heads for the quarters

Looking relaxed, and having fun in the solid and blustery conditions, Italo was pulling in, tagging the lips and generally surfing freely out there, picking up a few smaller waves and keeping busy. His round 4 heat was the same heat that saw Wilko advance, with Zeke Lau being the casualty. Italo is on the tail end of a brilliant year and he’s looking relaxed and confident. He made the final against Toledo here in 2015 and if he continues on this path of relaxed ripping, he could easily be in the final in the next day or two.

Gabriel Medina can take the world title in Portugal if he wins the event and Julian Wilson fails to make it through to the semis. Photo: WSL/Poullenot

Gabriel heads for the quarters.

All eyes were on the Jeep Leaderboard’s Yellow Jersey surfer and he didn't let anyone down. A power round four heat on paper against Frederico Morais and Michel Bourez turned into a scrappy shit-fight, with very few good waves coming through for the competitors. After a bit of a pause and with very little activity, Gabriel suddenly got busy and started catching anything that moved, trying his utmost to find a rhythm that was eluding all. His strategy worked, and he forced some sort of cadence in the junky conditions and took the win and kept the world title dream alive here in Portugal. Morais and Bourez were left very short, with neither getting above 10 points for their heat totals, with Morais bowing out.

Julian still in contention.

The event was called off just before Julian’s round four heat, so the chase is still on at this stage. With plenty of waves still forecast, there is more drama to come. Julian is the only one who can force the title to a Pipe Masters showdown. If Medina goes on to win the event, Julian has to get through at least two more heats (round four and quarters) to ensure the world title race goes to Hawaii.

That’s the scenario Australian fans and sporting diehards are hoping for. Gabriel, his family, and all of his thousands of fans throughout the world will want to see him claim his second world title in Portugal. Medina’s next obstacle will be stable-mate Matt Wilkinson, who is fighting to preserve his WCT position. Desperate men can be dangerous and despite a horror year, Wilko has the firepower to match Medina. Meanwhile, Julian must ensure he finishes at least second in his all-Australian quarter-final match up with Ace Buchan and Owen Wright. Ace has his own re- qualification battle to fight and Owen is never going to gift Julian a walk-through. As it stands, the world title could be won tonight, but Julian will be doing everything conceivable to take it to Pipe. If you are in Oz, get ready to cancel your Friday night plans and watch the MEO Rip Curl Pro.