Decoding Cloudbreak: Gabriel Medina Wins 2014 Fiji Pro; Andino Third
Code Red never happened; not even Code Yellow. Cloudbreak was almost user-friendly to the average surfer for this year’s Fiji Pro. (Almost.) It was an event that appeared to cater to the seasoned veterans who knew best how to pull magic out of minimal waves. And yet, come the final day of the competition, it was four of the new-schoolers who would decide the podium. The day would favor the goofyfooters and it would eventually be the anointed surf star of Brazil, Gabriel Medina, who would take the champagne shower over Nat Young. With the win, Medina now sits atop the ASP World Championship Tour ratings.
“It’s great to be back at the top of the ratings; it’s still early but I’m feeling good,” said Medina, who also won the Quiksilver Pro in March on the Gold Coast. “Nat (Young) is a great guy and that was a good Final against him. I was so nervous inside those barrels, I couldn’t see anything, but when I came out I was stoked. Thanks to everyone in Fiji, I just love it here especially with a win.”
After a win on the Gold Coast to lead off the season, Medina slipped into a bit of a early-season funk, with a 9th at Bells Beach and a 13th in Rio (where all the Brazilians seemed to struggle). He’s righted whatever wrongs slipped into his contest strategy and was on-point all week, winning every heat he surfed and did so in significant fashion: a two-wave score of 15.63 in Round 3 over Freddy P. (his only close heat); a 15.2 in Round 4 over John John Florence and Joel Parkinson; and then smokin’ John John and Kolohe in consecutive rounds (quarters and semis) with a 14.2 and a 17.5. He then saved his best for last, methodically ripping apart whatever Cloudbreak sent his way in the final, for an 18.4, the third highest heat score of the event.
While Medina regained his stellar form, Andino proved that his showing in Rio was not an anomaly. He followed up his best-ever WCT result (making the finals) with a semifinal result in Fiji, surfing aggressively and confidently. Having made a few personnel changes in his life, Andino looks like the surfer everyone expected him to be when he arrived on the Tour in 2012.
“It was a good event for me,” Andino said. “Gabriel (Medina) kind of went nuts in our semifinal and I needed better waves. That’s okay though, I’ve had two really good results back-to-back and I’m having a lot of fun. Next event is Jeffrey’s Bay and it hasn’t been a WCT event since I’ve been on tour so I’m really excited to surf it.”