France: Final Day

Young Brazilian Gabriel Medina takes out Julian Wilson in an all-rookie final

No one had any doubts about Medina's talent, but an event win this early in the game is huge for the young Brazilian. Photo courtesy of the ASP

The beauty of surfing is that the ocean is always changing. And with that change, the surfers best suited, or not suited, for the conditions rise and fall. For instance, one of the worst surfers on the first day, Gabriel Medina, became the standout and eventual winner when he suckered Julian into a horrible wave and then a perfect left appeared for him just in the nick of time. During this competition—as is the case with most—the waves, wind, and momentum quickly changed from favoring one group/style of surfers to another. And nobody was better suited to the changes than Medina.

When presented with his favorite conditions—lefts into the wind with crumbly lips—Gabriel sees no section he doesn’t have the perfect move for. Gabriel may have no chance at the world title this year since his One World Rankings points from Prime and Star events don’t carry over to the World Title race (strange how the system benefits guys already on the WT, with their points carrying over from WT events to the qualifying race of the Primes and Stars however), but what he has done, by destroying Kelly in the Quarters, is left a glimmer of hope for Owen Wright. Owen can potentially rebound from the worst-surfed heat I’ve witnessed from him (a severe thrashing at the hands of what looked to be Jordy Smith at about 75 percent of his ability). Kelly, theoretically, may not have been able to get past the best surfer over the last two events, Julian Wilson, if they had met in the Final. But if Kelly had finished second here, then Owen would have surely been left in the dust—just as Taj, Mick, Parko, Jordy, and anyone else who may fancy themselves a world title-contender has fared this year when pressed to keep up with Kelly.

Looking at the charts and listening to Kelly talk about next week’s comp in Portugal, we may see the pendulum swing back in favor of Kelly and Owen in the thumping barrels of Supertubes. We should also get a chance to see Medina show us his ability to ride the tube as well as he rides above the lip. Only a few days before all the action and drama begins again. Should I put Gabriel back on my Fantasy Surfer team for Portugal? It was definitely a mistake to take him off my team on the first day here.