Gabriel Medina Swoops Owen Wright At Chopes
“It’s looks like we lost Lowers off the tour, and brought it back at Teahupoo”—Pete Mel
Finals Day at the Tahiti Pro felt as lethargic as Los Angeles this AM, sleepy, small conditions at Teahupoo offering little thrills, and the blaring, nasal vocals of new-sish(?) Blink-182 track advertising the Surf Ranch Pro next month jarring us from our late morning coffees.
With the exception of a few rare drainers early on in the day, two-foot Teahupoo looked more like a particularly clear day in Southern California than anything resembling a South Pacific reef pass, onlookers standing casually on the inside reef with little risk of danger from the small swell.
“It’s looks like we lost Lowers off the tour, and brought it back at Teahupoo,” Pete Mel said, as Filipe Toledo dusted Michael Febraury. “Look at that, conditions are just absolutely perfect…”
For a minute, it looked like South African Michael February—surfing Teahupoo for his first time—was going to give Filipe Toledo a run for the semis. Despite threading a narrow, technical tube, it didn’t translate to a score in the excellent range, and Feb couldn’t find anything to back it up, while Toledo went four to the shore, stabbing turns all the way to dry dock.
Gabe and Italo’s quarters match up was conspicuously lopsided, Italo looking off kilter and out of sorts, while Gabriel ripped through his scoring waves in the first eight minutes.
Wade Carmichael blew a clean exit on his opening pit, but recovered with two heavy-handed finners. But he was never going to beat Owen Wright. Wright’s got that certain stoicism at places like Tahiti, never caving in and scrapping during slow stretches and always standing his ground patiently waiting for sets with priority.
With rare exceptions through the semifinals, the heats went to those who could resist the temptation to scrap despite the dying swell’s maddeningly slow pace.
Filipe Toledo’s fist-pump claim after a two-turn combo and foam climb on an insider was a high point, as Owen put him down with a pair of chandeliered pits with closing arcs. Gabe Medina got even with Jeremy Flores in the semis. By finals, with Wright and Gabriel Medina bobbing within a stone’s throw of the channel, the swell had dropped, and the wind threatened to blow what was left of the underwhelming conditions to bits.
Owen bamboozled Medina on the first wave of the heat, drifting him off-mark and bolting for the West Bowl just in front, the nugget sneaking under Medina and Owen capitalizing with an opening pit and three hooks to shut it down. With nothing hollow showing up, Medina’s flared out frontside nosepick reverse return was about as radical as anything possible on the flat faced Chopes chunker.
After squeezing the juice from every last lemon that rolled through the wind-kissed lineup for the better part of fifteen minutes, Gabriel Medina must have been melting when he paddled over the back of Wright’s last scoring set wave, with three minutes left, and saw a messy, raw runner behind it. Clawing into the face straight off the take-off, and needing only a high-5 to take the win, Medina came blasting out of the messy Chopes tube leaving little doubt to who would be taking home the win, and putting the squeeze Filipe Toledo’s lead into Lemoore.
“Teahupoo has always been nice to me,” Medina said from the channel. “It gave me the last time. It feels so good to win here again. Now I can start thinking about the Title.”
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