Yes, Gabriel Medina claimed the win at this year’s Rip Curl Pro Search event, held in the ultra-secret San Francisco. Not only did he take home the trophy, money and points, but Gabriel’s second win on the 2011 World Tour earned him heaps of respect, praise and confidence. Most importantly, his win gave legitimacy to the half-year reshuffle that so many have rallied against.
Gabriel (I refuse to call him “Funky Cold”) Medina bested Joel Parkinson in a seasick final at Ocean Beach. If you have your own horror story of surfing in chunky conditions at Ocean Beach, then Monday’s final was familiar ground. Gabriel surfed through the heavily textured conditions with absolute grace and precision, linking together turns and sections as if he were surfing any other righthand point break. In an amazing display of good ol’ fashion hook-in-the-pocket surfing, Gabriel silenced anti-aerialists, naysayers, anti-Brazilians and other critics by winning the final on his ground game alone.
In other news, some young whippersnapper named Kelly Slater won his eleventh World Title in San Francisco, then didn’t yet win it, then won it again a few days later. If it’s to be believed, Kelly himself found the error in calculation that handed him the title before he really earned it. In any event, he earned it in spades this season and won it for good in his round four heat against Gabriel Medina and Miguel Pupo. More impressive than his heat and title win was his after buzzer victory lap that sent him hurtling through the longest barrel of the event, only to come shooting out the end section long after most had written him off. Thanks again for the show Kelly. You truly are the people’s champion.
Beyond Kelly’s title and Gabriel’s ascendancy, one of the other major highlights of the event was Pat Gudauskas’ round three victory over Jordy Smith. Gudang stuck a gorkin flip halfway through the heat, earning him a solid lead and an ankle fracture. He paddled in just seconds later, leaving Jordy out the back with almost 13 minutes left on the clock. Thanks to Pat’s mixed bag of luck, Jordy was unable to put together the necessary score to move on, leaving an empty Gudauskas sized vacancy in rounds four and five.
So how was San Francisco overall? Rip Curl and the world’s best surfers put on a great show, despite the ever changing conditions. But… I think many (other than San Franciscans) would agree that it’s a venue that need not be revisited any time soon. If online polls are an accurate indication, fans want to see more of the flawless perfection of the 2006 Rip Curl Pro Search, when they took us “Somewhere in Mexico”. Wherever it ends up next year, all are looking forward to the excitement of a new location and a great show.