A week’s worth of beach break hustling reached a dramatic crescendo with the Australian and Brazilian putting on a clinic of small wave prog-antics for the Final in front of the tens of thousands on the beach.
Wilson was at his laser sharp best throughout the entire contest, posting several of the event’s highest scores. The Australian toiled hard on the final day, edging out Hawaiian prodigy John John Florence (HAW), 19, and South American beachy specialist Gabriel Medina (BRA), 18, with last-second heroics on his way to the Final.
“I’m over the moon,” Wilson said. “I got a really good start and my hat goes off to Miguel (Pupo) he’s deadly. I knew he was going to be hunting those lefts the whole heat and I just tried to apply a bit of pressure on him. He got that 8.93 and was right back in the heat with plenty of time left. There weren’t that many opportunities out there but it came down to the last minute and I had to just pray there wasn’t one behind it.”
A quick start against Pupo in the Final, as well as an impressive finish, ensured the young Australian would end the day atop the podium (collecting the third ASP win of his young career).
“I felt like I was just building house the whole event,” Wilson said. “I really had to fight for it every heat in the dying minutes and those heats always feel good. I wouldn’t say I peaked in the final but I got a good start and got two good waves.”
Pupo consistently strung together some of the highest scores throughout the entirety of the Nike Lowers Pro including a standout victory over Kelly Slater (USA), 40, in their Semifinals bout, but was unable to overtake Wilson in the Final and finished runner-up.
“I’ve had a great week and I had such amazing heats with Filipe (Toledo) and Kelly (Slater) and I’m learning every heat,” Pupo said. “I beat Kelly, but I knew Julian (Wilson) was going to be a tough one. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a good result and I’ve been working hard. It feels good to see the result come and I’ll be working hard for Tahiti.”
Gabriel Medina (BRA), 18, was at his progressive best throughout the competition, showing the full gamut of his amazing punt game, including the only perfect 10-point ride in his Quarterfinals win over countryman Adriano de Souza (BRA), 25. Medina launched an inverted backside, full-rotation air and followed up with a finishing maneuver on the inside for his perfect ride. Although appearing destined for a Finals berth, Medina was toppled by eventual winner Wilson in the Semifinals in the dying moments.
“I just went for that one,” Medina said. “That was a hard one and I couldn’t believe I made that, it was pretty sick. I’m stoked that I got a 10. Adriano is such a good surfer and is really hard to beat and I knew that it was going to be a tough heat, Adriano is such a smart competitor, so I just tried to go big and get my waves.”
Reigning US Open champ, Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, FL), quietly navigated his way to the final day of competition. The legendary Floridian toppled underground hero, Dane Reynolds, 26, in their morning Quarterfinal, but was unable to beat his opponent and 20 year junior, Miguel Pupo in the Semis.
“I never really felt like I got it going all week,” Slater said. “Miguel (Pupo) and Medina (Gabriel Medina) have been so consistent, getting 9s every heat and they are tough to beat out there. If you’re going to beat them out there you really need to be on you’re a-game. These are the waves they grew up surfing and this is their bread and butter.”