Goofy-footers aren't supposed to win on a backside wave like Snapper Rocks, especially against seasoned vets like Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning and Taj Burrow, but that's exactly what Gabriel Medina did, convincingly, at the Quiksilver Pro Australia on Tuesday.
"It's an honor to win this event," said an elated Medina after the event. "This is the hardest event of the whole tour and I feel like all the best surfers in the world -- Mick, Parko, Taj -- have won it. It's been a dream to win since I was a grommet. I've been watching those guys on videos and reading about them in magazines. Today I had the opportunity to compete against them and I couldn't let this chance go."
Seizing the opportunity, Medina's road to the final was hardly a walk on the beach. He had to get by reigning world champion Fanning in the quarters, then past an in-form Burrow in the semis before barely edging out Parkinson by 0.06 of a point in the final.
"Second two years in a row is heartbreaking, but it's still a great start to the year," said Parkinson. "I said the other day that World Titles aren't won or lost at the first event. If I didn't have a shocker at Bells last year I would have been right in the title race, so hopefully I can improve on that this year. Gabriel is a huge talent, he deserves the win and has been on fire today, so congrats to him."
The victory was historic in a number of ways. In the event's 14-year history, a Brazilian has never won it. Additionally, the last time as goofy-footer topped the podium was Mick Lowe in 2004. Medina's win is his first in over a year and puts him in early command of the ASP World Title race.
Running out of time in the waiting period, contest organizers took advantage of consistent, 5-foot surf to blitz through four rounds of the contest to finish in time. Along the way, 42-year-old Kelly Slater slipped up against a very hungry Adriano De Souza in the quarterfinals, relegating the 11-time world champion to a fifth-place finish.
"It was frustrating because I fell on a couple of waves," said an unsatisfied Slater. "Adriano was on the better end of being in sync with the sets, it seemed like the better waves always came when he had priority. I probably could have been more patient. You don't know out there because you catch a wave and hope it builds down the line. I never really felt on today, I was pretty tired after that heat. A bit of a lapse in concentration for me."
For his part in the Quiksilver Pro 2013, world champion Fanning was also left wanting more. Seemingly on point throughout the later rounds of the contest, he was fouled up by Medina in the quarterfinals and left to brew on the result until the tour picks back up again at Margaret River in April.
"All credit to Medina," said Fanning. "Even if you get a great wave, you still have to surf it to get big scores. It's a lot harder out in the water than it looks from the sand. That's the way it was and I just have to look at what I did wrong, learn and move on."
Move on indeed. The ASP World Tour will now head west for remainder of the Australia leg. Up next is the Drug Aware Pro at Margaret River, a new event on the world tour this year, then the boys will shuffle over to Bells Beach for the Rip Curl Pro.