By Léo Azambuja
Brazilian prodigy Gabriel Medina and five-time women’s world surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore won the Quiksilver Pro and the Roxy Pro, respectively, in Australia’s Gold Coast Tuesday.
The first leg of the 2014 World Championship Tour of surfing offered solid surfing conditions on its final day, with several barrels and long walls on offer.
On his way to the finals, the 20-year-old Brazilian goofyfooter eliminated reigning three-time world champion Mick Fanning, 33, in the quarterfinals, and had a nail-biter semifinal against West Australian Taj Burrow, 34, only taking the lead after catching a wave in the dying seconds.
In the final, Medina went against an in-form 2012 world champion Joel Parkinson, 33.
Parkinson wasted no time in pulling into a deep barrel off the point on his opening wave and throwing a series of power gouges down the line, scoring a 9-point ride out of possible 10 points. He would back up his first wave with a 7.27-point ride, putting the Brazilian wonderkid against the ropes during most of the 35-minute final.
Medina, however, never quit hunting for a score. On his last two rides, he came back with an impressive backhand attack, posting an 8.50 and a 7.83 to snatch the victory from the local hero. He is the first Brazilian and the second goofyfooter ever to win at the famous fast-running rights of the Gold Coast.
Kaua‘i’s Sebastian Zietz placed equal 24th in the event. In the non-elimination, three-men-heat round 1, he came just short of a victory that would’ve earned him a ticket straight to round 3. When faced against Brazilian Jadson Andre in round 2, Zietz was unable to find a high scoring wave and was eliminated from the event.
Two other Hawaiians competed in the event. O‘ahu’s Fred Patacchia Jr. placed equal 9th, and John John Florence, also from O‘ahu, placed equal 24th.
On the women’s side, local hero Gilmore, 26, claimed her fifth Roxy Pro title. In the semifinals, she took down the reigning two-time world champ, Hawai‘i’s Carissa Moore, 21.
In the final, Gilmore, a five-time world champion, faced rookie Bianca Buitendag, from South Africa. Repeating her performance against Moore in the semifinals, Gilmore’s high scores put the 20-year-old Buitendag in the need of a combination of two high-scoring waves.
Besides Moore, four other Hawaiians competed in the women’s event.
Kaua‘i’s Malia Manuel was in form throughout the first rounds and seemed poised to reach the finals. But Moore stopped her in a low-scoring quarterfinal, in which Manuel only needed to post a 6 to advance. She now sits in fifth in the WCT women’s ranking.
Alana Blanchard, from Kaua‘i’s North Shore, placed equal 13th. She fell short in the non-elimination, three-women-heat round 1. Faced against Californian Lakey Petersen in round 2, Blanchard chased a second wave in the excellent-score range, but was unable to find it.
O‘ahu’s Coco Ho also placed equal 13; and Alessa Quizon, also from O‘ahu, placed equald 9th.
The WCT now moves to West Australia, with the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, with the waiting period going from April 2 to 13.