All photos by Jimmicane
Three consecutive days of light wind, long period swell, and glacier blue barrels proved that waiting periods are worth their weight in Fu Wax. But that's not to say it was easy out there.
Ideally, Cloudbreak is either small enough to cap on the second reef and then unload on the inside ledge, or big enough to fully heave on the second reef, thus taking the inside section out of play completely. We saw the former situation on the previous two days of competition.
Finals day proved to be an in-betweener swell, meaning that the sets fully broke on the outer ledge, but not quite hard enough to barrel. This forced the competitors to sit on the inside ledge and look for medium-sized gems, while taking every set straight to the dome. The results varied between constant poundings, several pretty-good scores, and a few screamers. But beyond all the ducking and dodging, we had a contest to run and a winner to crown. Cue Gabriel Medina!
Did you really ever think he was gonna lose? Even coming up against Slater, who was the standout of the event up to this point, it was painfully obvious that Gabby had the mojo. The kid has an extra level of competitiveness — some call it arrogance — to the point where he straight up refuses to lose. The only other surfer with Medina's level of on-wave attitude is Italo Ferreira, who is probably still practicing airs at Shiskabobs as we speak.
Speaking of airs, can we take a moment to recognize that Gabby did (most likely) the two best alleyoops in Cloudbreak history? In the comment section of a recent article critiquing the score of the aforementioned whirlybirds, many were outraged that Gabby would even attempt such a maneuver at pumping Cloudbreak. One guy said that he "should have done a grab rail cutback".
Is that not the most backwards line of thinking? The way I see it, there are maybe a handful of guys in the world who would even try to do a legitimate air at sizeable Cloudbreak. For Gabby to land several gigantic punts on terrifyingly steep and shallow sections should be applauded — if not for the skill involved then for the goddamn bravery. I understand that if there are 10 foot barrels on hand, an end-section air shouldn't necessarily receive a massive score. But to write it off entirely, to suggest that it be replaced with a grab rail cutback, is mindboggling. Unless of course it was Sunny who said that, then he's totally right!
But anyway, back to reality.
The reality is, Matt Wilkinson has a commanding lead over the rest of the world tour right now (8,500 points to be exact). He put on a great performance in Fiji, and I will give him all the respect he deserves. The only bummer is, despite his prime position, Matty has the two best surfers in the world breathing down his neck. Both Gabby and John have looked unstoppable in the last couple events, and it's hard to imagine that run stopping anytime soon. At this point, the only defense Wilko has is an incredibly strong offense. If he wants to win this title, he's going to have to consistently make quarters or better, because the two fellas behind him want that goblet, bad.
But first, skulldrags!