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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa
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Mon, 10 September 2018

The forecasts were on the button as cranking 3' lines graced the Surf Ranch Pro presented by Hurley for four straight days, with Carissa Moore and Gabriel Medina taking wins, rewrites Spike.


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WILSON WAY: Julian Wilson was on fire, but came up short in the final. Photo WSL / Cestari


In another bizarre coincidence unheard on the tour is that each elite surfer in Stop 8 on the WSL Championship Tour managed to catch the exact same number of lefts and rights.

But that was on purpose and part of the wave pool format, which has been very hard to understand, but I think I finally have got it. In the men's event at the Surf Ranch Pro presented by Hurley, the 36 surfers were divided into two groups of 18, with each group only surfing on one of two qualifying days - Thursday or Friday. The women were divided into two groups of nine.

The score of your best left and right would qualify you for the final (eight top qualifiers in the men, four for the women), with all 36 men and 18 women getting a third run on Saturday for a last chance to improve on either, or both, your scores.

The inaugural wave pool event presided over a tightening of the title race. Three-time WSL Champion Moore got her first victory this season and her first since the Roxy Pro France last year, scooping 10,000 points and moving one place to 4th on the Jeep Leaderboard with two events to go. Stephanie Gilmore crept further ahead of Lakey Peterson on the leaderboard after finishing above her at Lemoore in second place.

Medina takes home his second CT win of 2018, earning back-to-back wins after Tahiti. The 2014 WSL Champion narrowed the gap between him and Jeep Rankings Leader Filipe Toledo (BRA) with his 11th career CT win.

For the two South Africans, it was an interesting weekend. Mikey February had trouble with consistency after the stellar video dropped on Facebook indicating some insane surfing in the leadup to the event. He finished joint 25th. Jordy Smith's massive alley oop on a righthander (see video) was impressive, and his 7.60 for the right (his first run) and 7.46 for the left (his third run) showed a nice balance, but it was not enough to make the final eight. He finished joint ninth.

However, fractions in the score were the difference. Jordy's final qualifying score was 15.03 as opposed to Kolohe Andino on the same score but whose top wave (7.70) was a fraction more than Jordy's (7.60). Next up was Yago Dora on 15.07. The last two guys to make the final eight were Sebastian Zietz on 15.50 and Miguel Papo on 15.56.

Although Moore was out of the women's title race, “My biggest goal is just to finish the year off strong and re-qualify. I just want to have a strong performance and gain some confidence hopefully for next year.”

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MADE FOR MEDINA: Gabriel Medina has halved the lead Toledo has on him. Photo WSL / Cestari


The Hawaiian dominated the Final Day from the start and posted two excellent scores on her first run to claim first place. Moore went on to improve her total with an incredible second run where she earned two excellent scores and a 17.80 total (out of a possible 20). It was Moore’s decimating forehand that proved to be the dominant factor for the win.

Medina is now back in the race and a couple more wins with three remaining events on the tour could seal the 2018 title for him. “Filipe (Toledo) is so dangerous, he’s probably the best at the Surf Ranch, so it’s special to win. There are no words. I am so happy right now. I surfed the way I wanted to. It’s totally different from surfing in the ocean, but I’ll take it! It’s the most high-performance wave I think we’ve ever surfed and it’s good to feel we are on level ground with the other guys.”

Medina’s win today looked to be in jeopardy after an uncharacteristic fall on his opening left, but he was quick to bounce back and posted an excellent 8.73 on the right run. Medina then took advantage of a makeup left granted to competitors due to problems with wave quality and smashed a near-perfect 9.13 after an insane air.

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FOUR FINALISTS: So everyone wins ... a tractor? Er. Alrighty then. Photo WSL / Cestari


Six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) could not quite put her dream run together on Finals Day, but still finished in second place. The Australian’s brilliant performance on her last run earned her an 8.87 (right) that moved her up to second place over World Title contender Lakey Peterson (USA) and 16-year-old rookie Caroline Marks (USA), who both failed to improve their scorelines. Gilmore will retain the yellow Jeep Leader Jersey and has increased her lead over Peterson heading into the Roxy Pro France.

The current World No. 1 showcased his incredible aerial antics once more, landing three airs on the wave that earned him an all but perfect 9.80Toledo continues to be one of Surf Ranch’s most dynamic performers and one of the sport’s greatest showman. The current World No. 1 showcased his incredible aerial antics once more, landing three airs on the wave that earned him an all but perfect 9.80 (out of a possible 10). Now, the Brasilian heads into a crucial European leg with Medina only 3,100 points behind him.

“I feel great. I made a few mistakes throughout the whole event and I could have done better on the left and be in first right now,” Toledo said. “But, I’m really happy to be a part of it. This is a new era of surfing and I have to thank all the fans for coming out here. It’s always scary to compete against these guys. They’re in the Top 5 for a reason, but I’m just trying to concentrate on myself and do my job and make sure I stay really far away from them.”

The men and women’s Word Title races heated up in Lemoore this weekend. Toledo’s impressive lead has been cut in half by Medina’s impeccable performance, while Gilmore managed to grow the deficit between her and Peterson.

“I’m stoked to get the opportunity and I sort of felt like I did enough, but I can only control what I can control,” Peterson said. “I’m looking forward to France, but just disappointed I didn’t get the score in the end. I want to grow from it, get better, and learn from it and make myself a better surfer.”

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MOORE ISH: Carissa looked totally at home on the freshwater walls. Photo WSL / Cestari


HOW IT WORKED

The "train machine" down the middle at Lemoore leaves the station roughly every four minutes, with each surfer riding a left and crossing over to get a right. Each two-wave run takes eight minutes.

The first left runs at 9am on Day 1 (Thursday). Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) - a wild card - paddles for it and rides it and gets a score of 4.5. Now for the right. He crosses to the other side and gets a 5.5. He has now surfed the first of two qualifying runs allotted to him on Day 1.

Next up is Kelly Slater, who catches his first left at 9.08am. He gets a mundane 4.6. He crosses over and rides the right for a 6.5. At 9.16am, eight minutes later, the next surfer, Miguel Pupo (BRA), hooks his left for a score of 5.1. Now he crosses and rides the right, for a score of 6.2.

By the time each of the three surfers have done their two runs on Day 1 or 2, the next time they will surf will be on Day 3, the Saturday, for a last chance to better their two best scores.After Ohhara, Slater and Pupo have completed their first run, they surf in a duplicate format for their second run. Once Pupo is down with his second wave, Ohhara catches a left at 9.24am. He scores 1.9 for the left and 6 for the right. His previous score still stands for the left, but he has improved on his score for the right. Kelly surfs at 9.32am. He improves on his 4.6 on the left with a 6.1 and then smashes an 8.5. These are his two best scores so far. At 9.40am, it's Pupo's turn.

By the time Pupo is done, its 9.48am and the next batch of three guys Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Joan Duru (FRA) and Keanu Asing (HAW) are up. By the time each of these groups of three surfers have done their two runs on Day 1 or 2, the next time they will surf will be on Day 3, the Saturday, for a last chance to better their two best scores. This time they will just do one run, ie, one left and one right.

As it turns out, for example, Kelly's two runs were on Thursday. He didn't surf on Friday. The two best waves from the four he rode in Run 1 and Run 2 was a 6.5 (left) and an 8.5 (right). On Saturday, he gets a 7.27 for his left in Run 3, an improvement on the 6.5, but doesn't better the 8.50. He qualifies for the last eight with these two highest scoring waves: 7.27 + 8.50 for a combined total of 15.77.

For the final, the runs started from scratch, with three runs per finalist run at staggered intervals throughout the day yesterday. Got it? Good.


Mens Final Results
1 - Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.86
2 - Filipe Toledo (BRA) 17.03
3 - Kelly Slater (USA) 16.27
4 - Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 15.77
5 - Owen Wright (AUS) 15.40
6 - Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.37
7 - Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 15.07
8 - Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.96

Women’s Final Results
1 - Carissa Moore (HAW) 17.80
2 - Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.70
3 - Lakey Peterson (USA) 16.57
4 - Caroline Marks (USA) 14.77

2018 WSL Men's CT Jeep Leaderboard
1 - Filipe Toledo (BRA) 49,785 points
2 - Gabriel Medina (BRA) 45,685
3 - Julian Wilson (AUS) 37,125
4 - Italo Ferreira (BRA) 31,825
5 - Owen Wright (AUS) 29,485

2018 WSL Women's CT Jeep Leaderboard
1 - Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 61,175 points
2 - Lakey Peterson (USA) 54,260 points
3 - Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 41,415 points
4 - Carissa Moore (HAW) 41,235 points
5 - Caroline Marks (USA) 37,000 points

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