Stab Magazine | Gabriel Medina's Title Run Heats Up; John Florence To Start His Reign

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Gabriel Medina’s Title Run Heats Up; John Florence To Start His Reign

The occasionally bold, always opinionated picks for the Fiji Pro by Dooma Fahrenfort.

news // Jun 3, 2016
Words by Damien Fahrenfort
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Ah Fiji, clean water, decent waves and the final resting place of Mr Taj Burrow’s competitive career. After Brazil I felt robbed of my viewing experience. My time zone didn’t line up and the few heats I watched were terrible. But, no reports of the dreaded Zika… so that’s good. And watching John John step up and get a win this year was pleasing. The surf’s looking like it’ll be around four foot and will yield a few upsets and unexpected finalists. Looking through the heat draws it’s clear how much the tour’s missing its big dogs. Here are my picks and before you get all judgmental and shit, remember I picked the top three in Brazil so I’m on a heater! Special shout out to Owen Wright, last year he was unstoppable in Fiji and we’re missing him on tour this year.

 

Taj Burrow Fiji 2015

Mr Burrow’s final event… but no worries, now we’ll just get his free surfs. Which is what we really want.

 

Taj Burrow
Because this is the last chance I’ll ever get to put TB in my picks. If he wins Fiji it would rival Kobe Bryant’s 60-point final game. It’d be an amazing way to go out. Taj’s irreverent style will be relevant in 10 years. I hope we see some exciting clips for TB in the coming time, maybe even a film. Call it Vintaj… Just kidding, he hates that title.

 

Gabriel Medina Fiji 2015

Whether it’s small or big, hollow or rampy, Gabs has the field down to a science. It’s a dangerous attribute when your tube, rail and air game are all deadly.

 

Gabs Medina 
Gabs is just getting going and word from Brazil is he was surfing three times better than anyone in the free surfs… and heats. He’s won here before in similar conditions to what’s in the forecast. He’s amazing in the tube and any wave four foot and under he’ll be going upside down and taking to the air. Brazil was the start to a big run for Gabs and his world title campaign. Other than John John, I don’t see anyone beating Gabs and hopefully they’ll match up this event.

 

John John Florence Gabriel Medina Fiji

Mr Florence had to sit Fiji out last year… in 2014 Gabs (also pictured here) knocked him out in the quarters, we’re hoping to see a re-match.

 

John John Florence 
I know it’s an obvious pick, but John is due for a win at a wave over reef. So far he’s only been able to get wins in beachbreaks, but if John could go back to back he could make a nice little title run. The reign of JJF has a nice ring to it. His kryptonite is his heat management in heats with slow waves. In places like Brazil and France he does well because he’s able to stay busy and create his own luck. When it’s slow or it’s a priority game things go a little pear for him.

Jeremy Flores WSL Fiji 2015

Mr Flores prefers it square, heavy and served over reef.

Jeremy Flores 
The danger man. Next to Mr Florence, I’d say he’s the best backside tuberider on tour right now and is due for a result. It’s been a pretty bad year so far for Jeremy and not because he’s surfing bad; he’s ripping and has been surfing a lot from the looks of his gram. Maybe he should bring back his Tahiti Gath helmet and that desperation he had there last year.

Wiggolly Dantas Fiji 105

Here’s Wigs further breaking the traditional Brazilian style mode at Fiji last year.

Wiggolly Dantas 
I recently learned Wiggles and Gabs have a similar heat strategy. Whether or not it’s intentional, I’m not sure but it really works in places like Fiji. What they do is start on the inside, right next to their competitor so when the first good wave comes through they’re on it. After they’ve racked up a good score they give themselves some distance from their competitor and usually get a good wave under priority and down the line because the likelihood of another good wave coming though in the previous spot is pretty rare at an unpredictable reef pass. Now with two good waves the pressure is on the other surfer which often results in them having to pick a shit one. Upon regaining priority they stick to their competitor so the next time a good wave comes they’re on it and then repeat. Confusing now but watch and it will all make sense.

Miguel Pupo Cloudbreak 1015

Miggy had an early exit last year, round two to Freddy P, when the waves had yet to fully materialise.

Miguel Pupo
The silky smooth Brazilian under-achiever. Miguel goes on good runs although he’s never dominant, he could be. There are surfers on tour getting better results than him and I imagine it’s a bit frustrating. While he often looks pretty soft because of his smooth approach I think it will tick over soon and he’ll start getting scored better or putting together better heats. Case in point, Wilko.

Kelly Slater Cloudbreak 2015

Let’s get Kelly out of Lemoore and into some real juice… he’s indisputably one of the best backside barrel riders of all time.

Kelly Slater
Probs not, but maybe if he doesn’t ride a Banana. 

https://player.vimeo.com/video/136284559

Best Rookie Result: Conner Coffin
I saw Conner before he left at the CI factory and he was jazzed for Fiji. Of all the rookies he has the most experience at Cloudbreak and he’s also the best tube rider of the group. Conner has a good backhand; combine that with skill in the green room and you’ve got a winner… amongst the rookies that is. 

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