The Brazilians have held serve at their home break this week during the Oi Hang Loose Pro in Pernambuco, Brazil. They saturated the field with top seeds and most have made sure to live up to that billing.
The most notable is Gabriel Medina, who will look to pocket the 6,000 Qualifying Series points during today’s final day of action — as if he really needs them. Medina won all three of his multi-man heats to start the competition. He enjoyed the best two-wave total of round three when he blitzed his opponents from the get-go. The judges almost showed him approval of perfection on his very first wave, but they delivered a 9.93, which helped him towards a 17.50 total.
That was bad news for Nat Young, who couldn’t outpoint Medina or Ian Gouveia and was eliminated in 25th place. Young is trying to get back on the world tour since dropping off in the 2016 season. He’s an interesting case of maybe too much too soon. Young was one of the world’s best juniors and took the Championship Tour by storm as a rookie in 2013. He finished eighth that season, but things have not gone as smoothly since.
Hawaii surfers did not fare well, even with a strong crew making the trip. Benji Brand, Imai Devault and Josh Moniz were all eliminated in round one. Ian Gentil won his opening heat but fell in round two. Kiron Jabour was the only surfer to survive into round three, where he took a 17th place result.
Medina, Italo Ferreira, Yago Dora and Jadson Andre are all into the final eight, with a potential Medina-Ferreira final looming. Nobody would be upset with that matchup deciding the title. It was the most obvious to start the event but actually reaching that point will still take a heavy work load.
South Africa’s Adin Masencamp has been the spoiler of the event to this point. He’s eliminated Wiggolly Dantas, Marc Lacomare, Jabour and Tomas Hermes among others. He’ll be taking on American Cam Richards with a spot in the semifinals on the line. Masencamp is already guaranteed to more than double his best QS result in terms of points. One monster result like this is sometimes all it takes to jump start a season and turn a career.
The QS competitors have had the two-time world champ to contend with this week in Medina. But they will have 11-time champ Kelly Slater when the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro takes place next month in Australia. Slater has indicated that 2019 will be his final as a full-time CT competitor. He’ll be trying to get his reps in at Manly Beach, where he has been victorious before — albeit 22 years ago.
With Medina eyeing a win and Slater on tap in March, the QS is rolling out the star power early in the season. Hopefully some who really need the points can still pick up some results and the world champs don’t hog all the glory.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.