With seconds left in the final of the Rip Curl Pro Portugal it looked as if Brazilian Gabriel Medina was going to hoist the trophy. But Julian Wilson surfed to the buzzer and rewrote the ending.
Wilson, the young Australian prodigy, won his first ASP WCT title Friday in a battle of a rising rivalry. He came up against the 18-year-old sensation, Gabriel Medina, in what was a rematch of the 2011 Quiksilver Pro France.
The eighth stop of the 2012 World Championship Tour took the world’s top 34 surfers to "Supertubos"—the Portuguese’ nickname for the renowned beach break in Peniche. In an event with so much on the line, in terms of the world title race, a lot was expected—and the final did not disappoint.
With seconds left, Wilson paddled towards his 15th and last wave of the heat chasing a 7.55 to take the title. He launched into a barrel, where he quickly disappeared for an instant, then pulled together a variety of turns to finish. Medina looked on as the Australian propelled his fists in the air.
It was not over yet.
Both surfers waited back up the beach in front of a packed house in scenes eerily similar to a year earlier. At the 2011 QuikPro France, Medina did the opposite and rode out a buzzer-beating wave to steal Wilson’s maiden WCT victory.
This time Wilson scored an 8.43 to avenge his devastating loss.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Wilson said. “My number one goal this year was to win one of these World Championship Tour events. I won Huntington, which was pretty big but it wasn't a ‘CT so there was definitely a space left in there for me to accomplish. To win here is just unbelievable.” (source: ASPWorldTour.com)
Just up the beach, there were contrasting emotions. The young Brazilian was clearly crushed by the loss and reminded everyone he was a still a kid as tears trickled down his face.
“That was a tough heat against Julian,” Medina said. “Unfortunately he got the score on that last wave. I had a fun run through this event and the waves were really really good.” (source: ASPWorldTour.com)
The surfers left France last week, but they didn't leave the barrels behind. Despite inconsistent conditions, many surfers chased the tubes and the high scores that came with them.
One of the early victims of this game plan was surprisingly Kelly Slater. In the third round he failed to find a rhythm and could only total a 5.27. Raoni Monterio, in his first event back from injury since Fiji, surfed what many were calling the upset of the year.
Who will be crowned 2012 ASP World Champion?
With Slater’s loss and Mick Fanning falling in the fifth round, both were left wondering what could have been, as their title hopes hit a significant set back.
Current world No. 1 Joel Parkinson strengthened his place atop the standings by dispatching the dangerous rookie John John Florence in the quarterfinals. Parko’s momentum did not carry through to the semifinals, but he can’t complain after finishing the Europe swing with two third places.
Next month the tour heads to the O'Neill Coldwater Classic in Santa Cruz, Calif. But in one of Parkinson’s least favorite waves, the right-handed point break, the title race will still be anyone’s heading into Pipeline.
Catch the entire event heat by heat on demand here.
For recap of last weeks Quiksilver Pro France click here.