The final day got underway at the Billabong Pro Tahiti with 12 of the world’s best surfers taking to the water in 12 to 15 foot conditions for what is being dubbed the best World Championship Tour event in history.
The action packed day, in mind boggling waves saw Gabriel Medina reign supreme. Medina gave it his all in the huge, perfect conditions at Teahupo’o triumphing over 11-time ASP World Champ Kelly Slater in the finals. It is Medina’s third victory of the year after winning the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast and Billabong Rio Pro.
Medina and Slater were neck and neck throughout the final with each posting excellent nine-point scores. Medina held the lead with a tiny 0.03 and the heat came down to the last wave from slater with a nail-biting wait for the score. He needed a 9.33 but only got a 9.30; Medina took the win and solidified his place in the rankings as World No. 1 going into the final four events of the season. He previously dispatched Kolohe Andino and Bede Durbidge en route to the thrilling final.
“I don’t know what to say, I’m so blessed to have these conditions at ‘Chopes and surf against all these guys. This is such a special event and I’m just so happy right now. Kelly is a legend of surfing and it’s the best feeling ever to win. The waves were big and perfect and this feeling is amazing. I love surfing and to get these waves is incredible. I want to thank ASP for the event and I’m so happy to be part of this,” said Gabriel Medina.
The day marked the first World Championship Final of the year for the four-time Billabong Pro Tahiti Winner, Kelly Slater. The significant result moves Slater up from sixth to second place in the ranking, putting him in serious World Title contention. He left the competition with two perfect 10’s and 14 excellent nine-point rides after topping John John Florence and Owen Wright before facing Medina in the final. “What can you say? The ocean delivered for us today…this week,” commented Kelly Slater. “It was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it and today will go down as one of the best days of surfing in my career, no question. Congratulations to Gabriel. He was in rhythm all event and specifically in the final, and he’s on fire this year. We switch gears big time for Trestles and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. There’s a lot of work ahead.”
Bede Durbidge secured his best result of the year, but was knocked out in the semifinals by Gabriel Medina. Despite a number of incredible performances through the competition event, logging a perfect 10 in the quarterfinals he was unable to match Medina and left the competition in equal third. The result sees him move to No. 13 in the rankings. “It’s such a bummer but I’m so glad to be part of this day. It was so special to surf against one of my best mates (Adrian Buchan) in the heat before and we’ve been surfing together since we were 13. This is such a great day for ASP and I’m stoked to be a part of it,” said Bede Durbidge.
Hawaiian prodigy John John Florence took on Kelly Slater in the second semifinal, for one of the most exciting heats ever witnessed at Teahupo’o. Florence performed with incredible vehemence, posting four nine-point rides including a near-perfect 9.90. The heat ended in a tie break, with both surfers holding a 19.70 heat total but Slater took the win with the highest single wave score, a perfect 10. The equal third place finish puts Florence at No. 12 in the rankings. “I don’t really know how I feel but that whole heat and everything that happened was crazy,” remarked Florence. “I’m so so stoked. My first ride was so good; it was insane. It was so glassy and nice out there.”
The Andy Irons most Committed Performance Award is given out every year to the standout surfer of the Billabong Pro Tahiti. Winners in previous years have included John John Florence (2013), Ricardo dos Santos (2012), and Jeremy Flores (2011). This year’s award has been presented to Owen Wright for his commitment, passion and courage during the event. Wright was knocked out of the competition by Slater during the quarterfinals, but not before scoring a perfect 10 in heat 4. “This feels amazing and I’m so honoured to get this award,” expressed Owen Wright. “During this event so many guys have gone hard. I’ve watched Andy (Irons) for so long and I can’t imagine what he’d be doing if he was here. To get fifth place here feels so special and this award just tops it off.”
The next event on the ASP World Championship Tour is the Hurley Pro at Trestles, it will take place from the 9th – 20th September.
Billabong Pro Tahiti Final Result:
1- Gabriel Medina (BRA) 18.96
2- Kelly Slater (USA)18.93
Billabong Pro Tahiti Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 18.67 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 4.17
SF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.77 def. John John Florence (HAW) 19.77
Billabong Pro Tahiti Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 19.87 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 18.43
QF 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.27 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 15.27
QF 3: John John Florence (HAW) 19.67 def. Dion Atkinson (AUS) 17.76
QF 4: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.80 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 16.10
Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 5 Results:
Heat 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15.40 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.66
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 15.53 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 6.16
Heat 3: Dion Atkinson (AUS) 19.33 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 14.77
Heat 4: Owen Wright (AUS) 19.87 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 12.83
Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.66, Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.73, Tiago Pires (PRT) 6.84
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.37, Kolohe Andino (USA) 15.57, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 9.00
Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW) 18.16, Kai Otton (AUS) 12.10, Brett Simpson (USA) 8.67
Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.44, Owen Wright (AUS) 16.74, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 12.50