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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Mon, 14 August 2017

Jordy Smith has climbed to the #1 spot in the world after his 3rd place in the Billabong Pro Tahiti, with a nailbiting run of four events to go in the WSL Championship Tour.

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WILLING AND ABLE: Julian Wilson made an emphatic comeback at Chopes. Photo WSL / Cestari

Australian Julian Wilson beat Gabriel Medina (BRA) in a thrilling last-gasp Final in fun-but-not-scary six foot Teahupo’o. The win marks Wilson’s third CT victory and best result in Tahiti heading into the Hurley Pro at Trestles.

Wilson ended Smith’s run in Tahiti in the second Semifinal, but it leaves the South African with his best result in Tahiti, and top spot on the Jeep Leaderboard just ahead of Hawaiian John John Florence, whom he vanquished in the quarters, and Australian Matt Wilkinson. Smith will head into the Hurley Pro ready to defend his event win there and eager to keep or improve his lead. Florence leaves with a back-to-back Quarterfinal result and sits just 950 points behind Smith.

“I am still learning a lot and I wish I had figured it out earlier in the event,” Smith said. “I am just going to continue to keep learning and watching John (Florence), Jeremy (Flores), Kelly (Slater) and those guys and keep learning. I am stoked to be in the top spot. Obviously, it is a long way to go, but it is sick to be in the front there. This year is a new year and I just want to bring something new, something fresh, and keep trying my hardest.”

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TIGHT SPOT: Jordy Smith has 4 events in which to scoop his first world title. Photo WSL / Cestari

The Final saw Medina get the lead over Wilson with an incredible 17.87 combined score (out of a possible 20), with a near-perfect 9.20 (out of a possible 10) and excellent 8.67. Wilson was stuck in a combination situation and needed two new scores with time running out. Wilson fought back with a critical 8.10 and outstanding 9.23, but still trailed by 1.09 points. Under pressure but with priority, Wilson found his way out of a deep tube to earn a near-perfect 9.73 for the win in the dying minutes of the Final.

Wilson found his way out of a deep tube to earn a near-perfect 9.73 for the win in the dying minutes of the Final“It has been a few years,” said Wilson. “It is so special to win. I am ecstatic and I have nothing left in me. I am just so happy and relieved to finally win an event again. It took so many good waves to win this event and I was lucky enough to get those. I felt like I was trending in the right direction. I’ve had a pretty steady start to the year and I am so happy to be in the mix now. With so many events left, I am really looking forward to it. I was already enjoying myself on tour and even more so now. I cannot wait for the rest of the year.”

Wilson had a slow start to this season on the Australian leg but has been building momentum throughout the 2017 season, with improved results at each event, specifically his 3rd place finish in J-Bay, 5th in Fiji and 9th in Rio. This result moves him from 8th to 5th place on the Jeep Leaderboard and 2,150 points behind World No. 4 Owen Wright (AUS).

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WIN WIN: John John slips to number 2 on the world rankings. Photo WSL / Cestari

The runner-up finish for Medina is his best this season. The 2014 WSL Champion and event winner has struggled to get past the Semifinals in 2017, but he is back in the game heading into the second-half of the season. The Brazilian superstar improve two places to 7th on the Jeep Leaderboard.

2017 World Title contenders John John, Owen Wright (AUS) and Wilkinson were eliminated before the Semifinals but all remain within striking distance of the Jeep Leader Jersey as they remain in the Top 4 on the rankings.

Florence showcased incredible surfing in Tahiti and posted the event’s second highest two-wave total, a near-perfect 18.70 in Round 3. In addition to his 5th place result, Florence received the Andy Irons Most Committed Performance Award for the second time in his career (2017, 2013). This prestigious award is given out every year to the standout surfer of the Billabong Pro Tahiti. Previous winners include Kelly Slater (2016), C.J. Hobgood (2015), Owen Wright (2014), Ricardo dos Santos (2012) and Jeremy Flores (2011).

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ACE UP: Ace Buchan slips into a clean barrel. Photo WSL / Cestari

“This is super amazing,” Florence said. “It is such an honor to get this award. Andy Irons was a part of that era that I looked up to growing up. He was the guy that we watched the footage of air-dropping at 12-foot Chopes and just standing in big barrels and getting spit out. Andy being the last Hawaiian World Champ -- and that was when I was younger -- so to win the World Title last year and bring it back to Hawaii and have everyone in Hawaii supporting me was such an amazing thing. It is so cool to win this because Andy is one of my all-time heroes.”

The next stop on the 2017 World Surf League Championship Tour will be the Hurley Pro and Swatch Women’s Pro at Trestles. The heated WSL Title race will continue in San Clemente, California as the world’s best surfers will take on Lower Trestles from September 6 through September 17, 2017.

Highlights from the Billabong Pro Tahiti can be found at www.WorldSurfLeague.com

Billabong Pro Tahiti Final Results:
1 - Julian Wilson (AUS) 18.96
2 - Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.87

Billabong Pro Tahiti Semifinal Results:
SF 1:Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.16 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.90
SF 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.26 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 7.33

Billabong Pro Tahiti Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 18.23 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 13.94
QF 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.33 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 7.67
QF 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.50 def. John John Florence (HAW) 13.10
QF 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.16 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 9.00

Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 5 Results:
Heat 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.37 def. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 11.66
Heat 2: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 15.50 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.00
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.93 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 11.40
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.24 def Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.60

Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.50, Connor O’Leary (AUS 13.40), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 13.40
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.37, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.50, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 6.00
Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW) 15.76, Conner Coffin (USA) 7.90, Julian Wilson (AUS) 4.00
Heat 4: Joan Duru (FRA) 12.33, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.43, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 8.40

2017 WSL Men’s Jeep Leaderboard (After Billabong Pro Tahiti ):
1 - Jordy Smith (ZAF) 37,850 pts
2 - John John Florence (HAW) 36,900 pts
3 - Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 35,950 pts
4 - Owen Wright (AUS) 35,350 pts
5 - Julian Wilson (AUS) 33,200 pts

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