“We’re talking about two monsters here…”
In 2009 Mick Fanning was fighting for a second world title, and Steph Gilmore was champing at the bit for a third. Around the same time there was a big focus worldwide on Junior Surfing, and a few of the main brands had their own junior programs going – the Billabong Junior Series and the Quiksilver King Of The Groms to name but two.
The Quiksilver King Of The Groms (QKOG) was a global initiative, and the final event was an international contest, with regional winners meeting up for a Grand Final of sorts. At the time I was doing some media work for Quiksilver in South Africa and was following the event closely. Davey Brand was the representative from South Africa and we all had high hopes. Fuck it; in 2009 in South Africa we had high hopes about everything, and look how that’s turned out.
Well, all hope was gone after Gabby took to the water that day and revealed to everyone the impending future. He produced three 10-point rides and a 9.7, and a 20-point final to become The King, and to cap some of the most impressive surfing ever seen by a 15-year-old.
An article in Surf Europe Mag covered the final thus:
“Those who witnessed such a display and stood on the beach in wonder will never forget what they saw. Looking at the larger picture of global surfing, is this a first 20-point heat score for pure technical surfing, without perfect tube rides? Can Medina take his surfing onto the Dream Tour and compete with the barrel masters for a world title?
Time will tell, but for today the Brazilian youngster Gabriel Medina literally flew into the history books and showed the world exactly where the future of surfing is going.”
Well, it looks like Gabby is once again going be inked into record books. The second world title seems imminent and will make him the first Brazilian to win a second.
“Hold on a sec,” we hear you query, irritated, ”Isn’t Filipe winning the world title race by a fair margin at this stage?”
“He is,” we answer back, “And it is by a 4,100 points difference, that is not to be sniffed at. Yet we feel that Medina is not really faced with any threat from the current number one seed on the Jeep leaderboard, and will race past him at lightning-fast speed in the three remaining events.”
Medina is the defending champion in both France and Portugal, has a runner-up finish at Pipe with a score of 19.20 against Julian in 2014, and knows exactly what it tastes like to be a world champion. Medina has the scent of victory and will be ruthless in his pursuit of it. He, like everyone else, is well aware that his talents lend themselves to multiple world crowns. Only recently Parko suggested the Gabby was the most talented competitor he had ever seen. Toledo is now like a rabbit on the run from a hungry Doberman that is hitting its stride.
Who better to comment on the above than the inimitable Leandro Dora? Mr. Dora sounds like a fine fellow on the line, and he has a track record that include a momentuous 2015, when he coached Adriano De Souza to a World Title, and Lucas Silveira to a Junior World Title that same year. Also, he’s Yago Dora’a dad, and a former pro surfer, so he’s doing something right. We hit him with the hard questions, and he bounced back.
On who it’s going to be:
It’s going to be a really a good fight between two phenomenal surfers. The winner will be the person who can keep a clear mind. We’re going to have a good show until Pipe though. That’s guaranteed.
The world title eventually boils down to pressure, and how people deal with it:
Filipe has been maturing a lot in this aspect, in my opinion. Gabriel however is already prepared for everything at all times.
On the road to a world title:
The daily work is fundamental for a surfer to be technically prepared for all conditions of the ocean. When you really want something very large, you need to be 100% focused and you need to show the universe that you are prepared for this achievement. It is necessary to wake up early and work with love, keep a full mind and activate your triggers of motivation.
On where Filipe will shine:
We're talking about two monsters here. Gabriel's record is great, but Filipe has a lot of cards up his sleeve to win any heat. It's very hard for me to make a bet, because anything can happen.
On Gabby’s statistical dominance over Filipe at Pipe:
Let us not forget that in recent years we have had a lot of medium-sized rights in Pipe, and in these conditions Filipe can do very good things. If it’s big left tubes however, there are only a few surfers in the world who can reach Gabriel’s level. It will be very exciting to see all this go down.
The stats don't lie however, and paint a grim picture for the young natural-footer. It might only be a 4,100 points difference, but the difference in the winning ratio between the two is significantly in favour of the goofyfooter, with Gabby on a 3:1 winning ratio at all three events.
The only stand-out, and it's a helluva stand-out, is when Filipe did this in 2015 and electrified the surfing world with his finals performance and a taste of things to come.
Can he do it again? Can he do the unexpected and recalibrate, reinvent and rejuvinate his current winning dance of multiple huge forehand rotes? Sometimes without grabs?
The real question is, can he throw himself over the ledge at heaving Pipe with that scary reef glaring up at him?
Big ask. Maybe too much ask. Maybe Gabby’s got this.