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Thu, 29 August 2019

Jordy Smith's third place at the Tahiti Pro Teahupo'o has catupulted him to 2nd in the world, and this pivotal moment in lefthand waves of consequence bodes well for 2019, writes Spike.


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GOOFY TO GO: The dangerous Gabriel Medina stands in Jordy's way. Photo WSL / Cestari


Owen Wright (AUS) won the event, which is the seventh of 11 events on the World Surf League (WSL) Men’s Championship Tour (CT) in an incredible final against Gabriel Medina (BRA). The rematch of the 2018 final was epic, with 6-10ft bombs exploding across the reef.

Jordy just couldn't quite get his rhythm going against Wright in the semis, catching only three scoring waves all below his par except maybe the one, while Wright was busy throughout. Both his top two waves were higher (8.0 and 7.76) than anything Jordy could muster (4.33 and 6.33). Fans had no recourse for complaint with the judging this time.

Freshwater Pro presented by Kelly Slater at Kelly Slater with Kelly SaterEarlier today he dispatched 2015 WSL Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA) in the quarters, knocking out Julian Wilson in the Round of 16 and New Zealander Ricardo Christie in the Round of 32. Now that he is #2 on the Jeep Leaderboard with four events to go, suddenly you get the feeling that at last, finally, maybe, surely, Jordy will take his maiden title this year. Next up is the Freshwater Pro presented by Kelly Slater at Kelly Slater with Kelly Sater in Lemoore, California. Held over three days in September - 19, 20, 21 (yes no lay days!)- this is potentially the only speed bump in the road for the big guy who will have to be his trimmed down, elastic best to see off Team Pocket Rocket from Brazil.

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SEEING DOUBLE: Medina and Wright were in a rematch from last year. Photo WSL / Cestari


But then its on to the beach breaks October 3 to 13 at the Quiksilver Pro France hopefully at Hossegor, and October 16 to 28 at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal at Peniche. If it comes down to the wire at the Billabong Pipe Masters two months later in December, surely our man is now officially equipped to deal with whatever hollow left barrels the Pipe will spit at him. This result at Chopes really is a pivotal moment in Jordy's career.

The earlier eliminations of four Top 5 competitors - Kolohe Andino (USA), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and Italo Ferreira (BRA) - opened the door for him, and he must grab this opportunity. It's his time to shine, but he must play it carefully - like straplining over a pit of puffadders - with the dangerous Gabby Medina now the frontrunner.

And on with the press release: Wright claimed his first event win in Tahiti after taking down defending winner Gabriel Medina (BRA), the two-time WSL Champion and defending Tahiti Pro winner. This is Wright’s first CT victory since the 2017 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast when the Australian inspired the world with his incredible comeback from a traumatic brain injury he suffered at Pipeline in 2015.

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DISPATCHED DE SOUZA: Jordy overcame Adriano in the quarters. Photo WSL / Dunbar


“I can’t be happier,” said Wright. “Gabby (Medina) was always going to be the toughest matchup and I had no priority and I snuck into those few on the inside. I tried to get as deep as possible and still make it. I teared up out there when the hooter went. I’ve been working hard and I am stoked to win.”

In a rematch of last year's Tahiti Pro Final, goofyfoots Wright and Medina battled once again at Teahupo'o but this time in heavy barrels. After a slow start, the heat turned into a barrel shoot-out at the twenty-minute mark and saw both surfers go wave for wave. Medina broke away with a 7.83 (out of a possible 10) and backed it up with a second 7-point ride, but Wright fought back with his own 7.73, only needing a 7.21 to win with eight minutes left. Under priority, Wright scored a near-perfect 9.17 to steal the title from Medina.

“I said I really wanted Gabby in the Final just to have that rematch and it was such a special time last year,” continued Wright. “The waves were just so perfect and to share that with a great mate was really special. When you come out here and in your first heat you get a 10, it makes things feel like things are coming. I haven’t won since Snapper and it has been so long. I won so early back then in my recovery and it has been so up-and-down and it has finally felt up and up and up in the last few months. I’ve tried to win this event a lot of times and it is amazing to finally get that today.”

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DEFINING MOMENT: Jordy's been quietly upping his game in big hollow lefts. Photo WSL / Dunbar


Medina was not able to defend his title in Tahiti but still has the opportunity to defend his win at the Freshwater Pro pres. by Outerknown, the next stop on the WSL Championship Tour. The second-place finish vaults him up to fourth on the Jeep Leaderboard and another step closer to a third World Title.

'Now I am just thinking about the wave pool. I cannot wait.'“Owen (Wright) really deserved that one,” said Medina. “He started the day off with a 10-point ride and when someone starts like that, I think you feel like it is going to go your way. I am happy for him and stoked to be in the Final against him again. Last year it was me and today he got me. I love to compete against him, he is one of the best so it was good to get second to Owen. I have to enjoy the momentum. It is hard to get the rhythm but now I feel like I am there. The win in J-Bay felt good and I think that will help me at the end of the year. Now I am just thinking about the wave pool. I cannot wait. I just want to thank God for the opportunity to have another Final with my great friend. This contest was unbelievable.”

Rookie Seth Moniz (HAW) captured his career-best performance today after making the Semifinals. Although the 22-year-old fell to runner-up Medina, he showcased his talents in heavy-water conditions in his freshman year on the elite CT. Moniz eliminated injury replacement Caio Ibelli (BRA), who sat right on the requalification cut-line before this event. Ibelli now moves up to 18th on the Jeep Leaderboard and betters his chances of qualifying for the 2020 CT next season after falling short last year.

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WRIGHT ON: Wright ensured his pate was protected from the place of skulls. Photo WSL / Dunbar


Final Results
1 - Owen Wright (AUS) 17.07
2 - Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.93

Semifinal Results
SF 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 15.67 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.66
SF 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.16 def. Seth Moniz (HAW) 7.43

Quarterfinal Results
QF 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 19.07 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 16.67
QF 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.06 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 8.67
QF 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.77 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 2.50
QF 4: Seth Moniz (HAW) 15.60 def. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 12.83

Latest WSL Jeep Leaderboard
Filipe Toledo (BRA) 36,600 pts
Jordy Smith (ZAF) 35,450 pts
Kolohe Andino (USA) 35,175 pts
Gabriel Medina (BRA) 34,695
John John Florence (HAW) 32,690 pts
Italo Ferreira (BRA) 31,280 pts
Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 30,780 pts
Owen Wright (AUS) 27,365 pts
Seth Moniz (HAW) 22,885 pts
Kelly Slater (USA) 22,385 pts

Past Winners
2019: Owen Wright (AUS)
2018: Gabriel Medina (BRA)
2017: Julian Wilson (AUS)
2016: Kelly Slater (USA)
2015: Jeremy Flores (FRA)
2014: Gabriel Medina (BRA)
2013: Adrian Buchan (AUS)
2012: Mick Fanning (AUS)
2011: Kelly Slater (USA)
2010: Andy Irons (HAW)
2009: Bobby Martinez (USA)
2008: Bruno Santos (BRA)
2007: Damien Hobgood (USA)
2006: Bobby Martinez (USA)
2005: Kelly Slater (USA)
2004: C.J. Hobgood (USA)
2003: Kelly Slater (USA)
2002: Andy Irons (HAW)
2001: Cory Lopez (USA)
2000: Kelly Slater (USA)
1999: Mark Occhilupo (AUS)

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