All Photos: Corey Wilson
In 2011, when Gabriel Medina and John John Florence both qualified for the WCT, you probably wouldn’t have bet on Gabe to beat John in a man-on-man heat at kind-of-alright Teahupo’o in 2015. I wouldn’t have, either. And we should both be thankful that we didn’t move forward with that hypothetical wager four years ago (unless you did…idiot). Earlier today, Gabriel beat John John in what Kelly Slater described as the heat of the year at the 2015 Billabong Pro Tahiti. If you haven’t yet seen it, watch it now and you’ll have to agree.
There were six nines in there. But that’s not what’s important.
What’s important is the fact that John and Gabriel are the two best surfers under 25 in the world right now. They’re drastically different in almost every shade of life and when it comes to surfing, you’d have to think that Teahupo’o would play into John’s favor. Still, he lost today. So does that mean Gabriel is simply a better surfer?
You can call me biased, yell at me in the comments with an all caps tirade, throw a rock at my head, do whatever you gotta do -- but I’m gonna give it a firm no. He’s not. Gabriel Medina is not better than John John Florence at what we’ve collectively come to define as high performance surfing. He is, however, an undeniably better competitor. If they surfed that heat ten times, Gabriel might win seven of them. A matchup with John has a way of bringing out Gabe’s very best.
But if Gabriel were to put out a full-length film, there’s no way it would even compare to what View From A Blue Moon is shaping up to be. Gabriel’s lunar profile would be a Harvest Moon at best, and possibly obscured by some lingering stratocumulus cloud cover. His surfing just isn’t conducive to clips in the way that John’s is occasionally not conducive to contest results. And maybe that’ll someday change.
Maybe someday John will develop into the consummate competitor. Maybe Gabe will make the best movie of 2018. Maybe none of that will ever happen and both will stay the same forever. And
maybe definitely comparing the two isn’t about race or nationality or skin color or hair color or board paint color or jersey color, maybe definitely it’s about surfing. And definitely we should forget about all that and enjoy watching two incredibly talented surfers shove the boundaries of our sport.