Carissa Moore and Gabriel Medina Are Your 2021 World Champions Of Surfing - Stab Mag
Is anyone surprised? Photo: Jimmy Wilson

Carissa Moore and Gabriel Medina Are Your 2021 World Champions Of Surfing

As it should be.

Words by Stab

The WSL Finals, an event we passionately debated for the past 12 months, has culminated with the regular season leaders, Gabriel Medina and Carissa Moore, winning well-deserved World Titles.

This is Gabriel’s third Title and Carissa’s fifth.

The 2021 Championship Tour saw the completion of eight total events over the course of 10 months. After a lengthy break from competition in 2020, both Gabriel and Carissa got off to incredibly hot starts. Once they took hold of those yellow jerseys (after the second event of the season), they never looked back.

It would have been a crime for Medina to lose this year. Photo: Jimmy Wilson

Gabriel’s Year

Gabriel’s 2021 season was as cutthroat and definitive of a world title campaign as we’ve seen. Were it not for the new WSL Finals format, he would have won the thing weeks ago.

After starting off the year with two seconds at Pipeline and Newcastle, Gabriel took the win at Narrabeen. He followed this with his worst result of the year — a 9th at the one CT stop that could be described as his Achilles heel: Margaret River. Gabriel immediately hopped back on the horse, taking the win at Rottnest Island and never finishing below the Quarters for the rest of the year.

In the events that Gabriel did lose, he put on nothing less than dynamic, must-watch performances on a daily basis, most notably with his space-age full rotation in Newcastle, his Gorkin Flip* in Mexico, and his completion of the second backflip ever landed in competition today, as he sealed the win against Filipe Toledo.

This was taken before Carissa won — imagine how big that smile is now. Photo: Jimmy Wilson

Carissa’s Year

Starting out the year with the first women’s event at Pipeline, Carissa lost to an impassioned and in-form Tyler Wright. After a two-week Australian quarantine, Carissa jumped right back on her thoroughly stickered Mayhem pony and took the win in Newcastle doing what was (at the time) considered the best air ever completed by a woman, jersey or not. While Carissa didn’t win another event outright (until today), she never finished below the semis for the remainder of the year. In any other year, if your throw-away score is a third, you’re all but guaranteed to win the World Title.

It should be noted that even with only two event wins, Carissa Moore likely just completed the winningest year in women’s surf history with her Olympic gold medal and fifth World Title.

Over the course of one day and 11 heats (six on the women’s side, five on the men’s), Gabriel and Carissa made an incredibly convincing case for surfing’s new ‘Superbowl’. With plenty of dramatic moments littered throughout, one thing is for certain: this format pushed the number seeds to perform their best with their backs against the wall.

As Kelly Slater mentioned multiple times in reference to the top seeds, “It’s theirs to lose…”

And lose they did not.

You can read our full report from the event here.


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