Australian surfer Julian Wilson has won the Billabong Pro Tahiti 2017 after taking down Brazilian Gabriel Medina in an epic final.
The Wilson versus Medina matchup was the latest chapter in an ongoing rivalry. The two competitors met in the Final, after winning their respective semi-final match ups, Medina defeating Kolohe Andino (USA) and Wilson beating Jordy Smith (ZAF). It would be Medina’s second Final appearance at the event in four years, after winning in 2014, placing second in 2015 and finishing third in 2016.
Despite both losing their non-elimination three-man heats in the Round 4, Medina and Wilson progressed to the Final. Medina putting on an impressive display throughout, including the only 10-point ride of the event which came against Australian Owen Wright in the Quarter Finals. [Wave found at 0.19-minute mark in video below]
The final began with both competitors in an attacking mindset, paddling right next to each other, almost on top of each other. The fierce rivals wrestling for the first wave in order to gain an upper hand. With only three and a half minutes remaining on the clock, Wilson would need a score of 8.64 to take the lead. Taking off on a good looking wave, Wilson pulled deep into the barrel, before appearing moments later to the cheers of the crowd in the channel. The judges scored the wave a 9.73, giving Wilson the lead with only one minute and thirty seconds remaining in the contest. Medina was unable to come back and Wilson claimed his first ever victory at the Billabong Pro Tahiti, much to the delight of his Aussie compatriots watching on.
The victory marked Wilson’s third event win since joining the World Tour in 2011. His two previous wins coming at Portugal in 2012 and the Pipe Masters in 2014, where he also claimed the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
Wilson became the seventh different winner in the first seven events of the year and is now in a prime position to attempt to win a maiden World Title. Wilson sits in 5th place on the Championship Tour Rankings with four events remaining, Hurley Pro at Trestles (San Clemente, California), Quicksilver Pro France (Hossegor, France) MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal (Peniche, Portugal) and Billabong Pipe Masters (Oahu, Hawaii).
With just under a month until the beginning of the Hurley Pro waiting period, Wilson will be eager to get to the United States and prepare for an event that he has every chance of winning. Success at Trestles will move Wilson closer to the top of the rankings and put him in a great position to have a shot at a World Title.