Stab Magazine | Gabriel Medina Wins At Pumping J-Bay, Becoming The First Goofy-Foot To Do So Since Occy In 1984

Gabriel Medina Wins At Pumping J-Bay, Becoming The First Goofy-Foot To Do So Since Occy In 1984

And Carissa Moore’s earns the yellow jersey for the first time in years. 

news // Jul 20, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 9 minutes

“Look at this wave, Ronnie. It’s just a treat for the eyes.”

That’s how Barton Lynch described Jeffrey the giraffe, whose long, billowy neck was in unique form today.

A significant dose of west both slowed down the sets and bent them slightly out to sea, which sounds like a bad thing but in reality just made the waves more rippable, as surfers weren’t constantly chasing the invisible dragon somewhere down the line. 

The wind was another story. This was a pure offshore, gust that would cut through the bullshit and expose any disengaged rail or unsettled stance. Is it any surprise, then, that our finalists consisted of Carissa Moore, Lakey Peterson, Gabriel Medina, and Italo Ferreira?

Carissa is the most powerful female surfer in the world, Lakey falls closely behind.

With Florence sitting back in Hawaii (oh, how it must pain him to watch this event) and Jordy defeated by his own indecision, Medina and Filipe were always gonna be the favorites on finals day. However, that same west swell that slowed the roll of the point also left Filipe waiting, and waiting, for a wave that would never come, giving Italo Ferreira a clear path to the final. 

This set up the first goofy-footed victory at J-Bay since 1984, when Occy dominated the point with his agreeable squat.

But let’s start at the beginning.

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You just can’t fault this lemony squeeze. Photo: ASP

Gabe Medina faced Owen Wright in the day’s first quarterfinal, which started off slow and built to a spectacular crescendo. The first score of the heat came around the halfway mark, with Medina dropping a six for a small, soupy insider. It was a piece of shit wave, if I’m being honest, but Gab’s ability to drive through the foam is remarkable. 

Sometime after, Owen caught a polar opposite ride, the Avatar bashing three clean lips before it ran down the point without him. The numbers were practically identical. 

With four minutes left and just a narrow lead over his competitor, Medina used priority on a mid-sized wall and proceed to paint it white. A huge backhand carve, white-water climb, fin-free drift, and a double-arm smash positioned Medina perfectly for the inside double-up, which, after a cheeky kickstall, he grabbed his rail and threaded a deep, seemingly close-out tube before rising from the wash. It was excellent surfing any day of the week, and the judges gave it a nine. 

Now needing a high-eight to win, Owen sped down the line of a long-legged right, floating his across impossible sections before finally finding a lip to hit before the closeout. 

It was a well-surfed, but not excellent. Medina advances.

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It was great to see Owen back in form.

In their first major exchange, Ace Buchan dodged a tube but finished well for a 7.17. Kolohe threaded a deep, winding tunnel straight into a huge carve-down and a second tube attempt that was ultimately unsuccessful. The judges gave KA the nod, rightfully so. 

More safe surfing from Ace, more mid-range scores. Kolohe took the lead with a six of his own, then took to the air—kinda. Launching horizontally off the lip and spinning over his right shoulder, Andino hardly got above the lip but still executed a perfect alleyoop, making up for his lack of vertical rise by guiding himself toward the flats and landing cleanly in the transition, a good four feet below his launch point. He followed this maneuver with two clean turns, netting a near-excellent score. 

This was a difficult wave to judge, but I thought the Old Wise Men nailed it. Kolohe, onward.

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The best credit card air we’ve seen.

Seabass is one among a shortlist of Tour surfers who simply can’t pass up a tube—Kelly Slater, Jeremy Flores, and Seth Moniz are also on this list of absolute piggies. And with J-Bay in A-minus form, Seabass had only one thing in mind when taking off on a wave today. 

This single-track thinking nearly got Bass a win over the 2x defending champ Filipe Toledo, but one unfortunate fall for the Kauaian and a surprisingly deep chube for Flip turned the heat in the dying minutes. At this point, Toledo was looking more than likely to complete the triple-dip. 

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Colorful boards just add to the uncanny pop of Flip’s surfing.

Kanoa Igarashi, the event’s other top performer, looked relatively lost today, collecting two mid-range scores early then proceeding to select below-average waves for the remainder of the match, never bettering his early five and six. Meanwhile, Italo tapped into the energy of the point, selecting two steep, long runners and amassing upward of 15 points. The ocean went flat and Kanoa, incredulous, had lost before he even started.

So out went the women, and with CM-squared in the first semi anticipation was high. Both Carissa and Caroline would leave us wanting more. 

First, it was a four-four-four deal for poorly selected waves by both athletes. Then Carissa got a six for the most boring ride of the day, and Caroline followed her down the point, safety surfing all the way before making the curious decision of straightening out in the whitewater (thus putting her behind Carissa on the paddle back out) rather than penetrating the trough and potentially regaining priority.

This mistake would prove costly, as Carissa’s next ride, a long, tapered right, provided the canvass for a few arcing swoops that netted an 8.5. Caroline tried to fight back at the end, but by the mere fact of looking timid on her rides, the Florida teen received sixes rather than the sevens she required.

Riss to the final.

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Same as with the big day at Bells, Caroline just didn’t look her calm, confident self in today’s overhead walls.

Like Kolohe Andino, Malia Manuel has been on Tour for eight years and is still yet to win an event. That must have been all she was thinking about before going to sleep last night. Unfortunately, Malia will have the same feeling of dread this evening also.

The fact is, it was always gonna be hard for a flyweight like Manuel to defeat lead-foot Lakey at four-to-six foot offshore J-Bay. This became evident on Malia’s top-scoring ride, a low-six, where she failed to truly set the rail until the very last turn. Meanwhile, Lakey attacked wall and lip with gusto, accruing two mid-sevens and taking an easy victory.

The men’s semis were up next, providing the only semi-controversial heat of the day between Kolohe and Medina.

And when I say “semi-controversial”, I mean that my friend Erwin texted me with the following complaint:

I think Chloe should be in the finals. He did a bigger air [than the one in the quarters] and got a smaller score… 

Poor Erwin was under the delusion that scores carry over from one round, or even one heat, to the next. This, of course, is not true. And even if you could measure Kolohe’s quarterfinal rides directly against his semi—meaning that the air waves were a true apples-to-apples comparison—it’s clear that the first incarnation was superior.

Reasons being:
– bigger wave
– heavier section
– more technical and cleanly landed air
– more dynamic combo thereafter

There are plenty of ways to skin a cat, and I preferred Kolohe’s first. But beyond that pointless comparison, is there any way that Kolohe beat Medina in the semi? Yeah, I guess, but Kolohe’s been squeakin’ heats all week so it was bound to catch up with him at some point.

Great surfing from Brother today, though. I do applaud his effort.

Oh, and did we mention he’s officially World #1 now?

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Your new World #1 (this time he’ll even get to wear the yellow jersey).

At this point, Filipe was two heats away from completing his destiny of a J-Bay three-peat. After securing a nine in the opening 15 minutes of his semi against Italo Ferreira, the Toledo finals berth looked all but guaranteed. But Ferreira wasn’t having it. 

Already a winner at Bells, Keramas, and Snapper (semantics, D-bah), Italo decided to reveal the true extent of his backhand dominance by positively creaming (Ronnie’s words) a tall Jeffrey’s wall to the tune of 9.5.

So, Filipe needed an eight. He waited a long while for a wave that went pear, thus gifting Italo priority into the dying stage of the heat. He converted that into an eight of his own and mamboed past Flip into the finals. 

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A weapon in every sense of the word.

“Our friend Strider has a lot of nicknames, most of which he’s given himself,” said Joe Turpel before the women’s final. “What do you have to say, Wastrodamus?”

Waz called for Lakey, as did Pete Mel. Joe stayed characteristically neutral. I had Carissa. 

Lakey opened with a 6.83 for a series of swoops on a smaller wall. Clean, precise, but nowhere near excellent. Surely that wouldn’t be a part of a winning total. 

Pottz thought the gals were sitting too far down the point. That they were forfeiting a good 200-300 yards of wall for… what? An assurance that they’d make the ride? “They’re only gonna get two or three turns before it shuts down,” Pottz declared. 

He wasn’t far off. Lakey had a weak, four-turn right for low-seven. Carissa backed her up with three turns into an unmade tube. Six-point-two-three. At this point, I really wished Steph was still in the event. “Man, she’d actually do these waves justice.”

Carissa made me chew rocks with three hard snaps, each one bigger than the last.

Riss dropped an 8.5 with 17 minutes remaining, opting to do the run-around rather than paddling back out. Hubby carried her board, because it’s the least he could do when his spouse was about to bring home $100,000. That’s a state-of-the-art kitchen! And not to type-cast, but doesn’t Luke look like a man who enjoys the culinary arts?

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While Riss negotiated the keyhole, Lakey caught a tall, steep wall and tagged it mercilessly before pulling into an incomplete tube. Would it be the mid-seven she needed? I thought maybe. The judges, nah.

Pottz condemned Carissa for relinquishing priority on a wave that “wasn’t going to increase her score.” This “mistake” was nearly rewarded when, in the same set, Lakey couldn’t scratch over to the corner of a bona fide bomb, allowing Carissa to spin around and start swinging. All Riss could manage was two big turns before stuffing an end section pit, which barely clipped her at the end. It seemed if one of the gals could survive a funnel, it would turn the final.

The judges gave Carissa a seven despite her fall. 

Lakey came back with a long, disjointed ride, both starting and finishing strong but lacking any cohesion in the middle. The judges called it a 7.33—a long way short of the low-eight required. She was now also waaay down the point, having ended her ride somewhere near Mozambique.

Lakey (somehow) regained the lineup just in time for a set in the final 30 seconds. Riss went on number one, it was kind of a closeout. Lakey took number two, which suffered from the chowder of its predecessor. Lakey went down hard in the turbulent water, declaring Carissa the victor.

The Hawaiian cried tears of joy in the lineup, telling Strider, “I didn’t know when this win would come.” Carissa now sits at number one in the world heading into the season’s back half. She hasn’t worn the yellow jersey in years. 

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Italo is one of few surfers on Tour with a winning record against Medina. I doubt Medina gives a fuck about that stat, but it’s worth mentioning before this historic final. 

Medina started the heat with two belly rides down the point, leaving Italo out the back, stroking into a bomb.

After nearly flubbing a lip-to-the-back takeoff, Italo set his feet in the wax and his sights on Medina, who he made sure to give a light kiss on his way past. Italo then proceeded to demolish the uneven wall, waiting patiently while it napped and attacking when it roared, surfing an imperfect wave impeccably for a 9.17.   

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Medina then got his chance to fight back, which he botched by going too high on a fluttering lip. This put Gabe instantly into a paddle battle with Italo, who wanted nothing to do with that shit. Medina regained priority, which set the stage for a crucial exchange. 

Italo went on a small insider, surfing it conservatively and falling on the end snap. Five. 

Medina, out the back, dropped in on one wave but then kicked out, putting him in position for the one. 

This giant Indian Ocean wall, illuminated by a crashing sun, was the most impressive wave Medina’s ridden all season. A huge first turn that was sullied slightly by getting stuck behind the section. As the wave slowed up, Medina prepared for the inside track with a sleepy swoop. That’s when a giant wedge reared its head, which Medina squared up against and decapitated, falling halfway down the face before re-engaging his fins. This put Medina in just the position to lean over his heelside rail, scoop hard toward the lip, and perform one of the strongest and most athletic re-entries in recent memory before riding away with a well-deserved claim.

That final combo was otherworldly. 

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Two judges threw a 10 at the wave, the others a 9.7, 9.5, and 9.5. Average of the middle three scores: 9.73.

Italo fought back with a mid-seven, strengthening his lead but leaving a barn door open for Medina, who’d seemed, after six full events, to have finally found his inner-Terminator. 

With around four minutes remaining, Medina caught another bomb and put the thing to sleep. Air-drop float, massive hook in the corner, down the line snap, upside-down hanger, and a deep tube to finish. Pottz’ original claim was that it would be another nine. The judges threw a 9.73. Upon secondary review, Pottz said, “I’m a little mad they didn’t throw him a 10.”

Fair enough. 

With Italo combo’d and three minutes remaining, the heat was over. Medina rode a wave switch just because. He’s now number seven in the world and the unofficial Title favorite.

Is the dark-eyed prince really doing this again?

Yes, he is.  


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