From the start, I didn’t wanna jinx it. Lord knows everyone else was trying to. The week before the event I’d been meeting with Gabriel Medina, surfing and hanging with him in pursuit of a story I’m writing for our next issue. “Gonna be great for the article if he wins it, huh?” said Rip Curl team manager Matt Myers. Yeah — obviously. But I wasn’t counting my chickens. Indeed, he had us craning our necks watching him out at Lowers and Salt Creek. But no one can make a call like that so early. Plus, it’s just bad luck.
But the kid had grown a couple inches, put on a few pounds. His power game had definitely bulked. And of course, his landing ratio was staggering. Frightening. People kept talking. Everyone around the office was saying the same thing, too. “How sick would it be if he wins?” As if all of his hard work and passion and twelve family members flown in from Brazil were to benefit the story.
But maybe, like everyone was hoping, this was all for the story. A man can dream, right? Consequently, the following week unfolded like a feature profile’s wet dream. Gabs was murdering. Heat win after heat win, 19-plus point total after 19-plus point total, Dane lashing after Dane lashing, slob air reverse after no-grab 360 air — well, you watched it. Until I found myself sitting beside Rip Curl marketing director Dylan Slater in the top tent watching the finals. And even he smugly said, without breaking gaze from the sea, “Gonna be good for the interview when he wins, huh?” And damn an in-form Irishman if it wasn’t. “Yes,” I replied. “You’re damn right it will.”
And then he won. Definitely his weakest heat of the whole event. But the waves were slow. And let’s face it, up until then, he was surfing twice as good as everyone. The entire time. Except maybe Brett Simpson. F–k, that was a close one. Nevertheless, it was a fine way to frame a feature. A fine gift for a well-wishing writer. It had to be. Thank you, Gabriel. You truly are too kind. —Beau Flemister