Stab Magazine | The Men's Quarterfinal Chess Challenge

And The Winners Of The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Are... Watch The Pick-Up Episode 5, Presented by Vans, To Find Out


The Men’s Quarterfinal Chess Challenge

“Variety is the key” to overcoming the backside blitz, says John John after winning in the quarters.

news // Mar 19, 2017
Words by Jed Smith
Reading Time: 3 minutes

It was as close to a chess challenge as surfing gets. Glassy, rippable conditions prevailed for the men’s quarterfinal but it was slow and wobbly at times, forcing surfers to rely on their third eye or, in Medina’s case, some help from above, to get the end section to cooperate. 

“It was pretty tricky out there. I was a little nervous because I never got a good wave but I was believing in god – I was like just please god give me one!” Medina said. 

His quarterfinal clash with Slater heat lived up to its billings. It was a classic, coming down to the final exchange with the two dons going blow for blow to the crowd’s rapture on successive down the line Snapper reelers. 


The age gap from Kelly to Gabs is 23 years, but Kelly looks to be approaching this year with newfound vigour.

Slater made no secret of his tactics heading into the encounter and made good on his promise, wrapping Medina in a sticky web of bad waves, no priority and steadily increasing pressure. 

The final five minutes saw the pair engaged in an enthralling battle of wits for priority. Slater was desperate to keep Medina from finding a set with enough wall and lip-line to hang his backside on. He was successful up until the final few seconds, then the inevitable happened. Medina picked off a bomb, batted the first section into the heavens, following it up a lightning run of stabs and floats past Little Marley for a 9.17 and a dramatic win.  


Is this Gabs at 80 percent? 

“I lost the priority with two or three minutes and I was like, I made a mistake. And then I made him go on that wave and then I was like now I need to calm down and wait for the good one. Thank god for that last one,” he said.  

John John Florence was the other standout in the quarters, opening his account against Brazil’s Italo Ferreira with a cute tube straight into an absolute melter of a frontside hack. 

“That was a fun one. I came out of the barrel with so much speed and it had such a nice wall. After yesterday when it had all that chop in it I was just dreaming today of doing a big open turn on an open face so it felt really good,” he said. 

John is the last natural footer left in the event and said variety was the key to overcoming the backside blitz at Snapper. 

“I think variety is the key. The goofy footers are a little more limited to backside turns one after another after another. Having that freedom to be able to do a variety of turns and snaps and airs and barrels helps a bit,” he said. 


No one predicted Owen’s strong a return.

Elsewhere, Matt Wilkinson was masterful in his selection and use of priority, overcoming hometown hero and perennial style master, Joel Parkinson in the first heat of the day. While Owen Wright continued his dream return to competition, showing ice cold composure and flawless flow to oust Australian rookie, Connor O’Leary. 


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