The 11th and final stop on the 2015 Men’s Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour was at the infamous break of Pipeline on O’ahu’s North Shore. The Billabong Pipe Masters in Loving Memory of Andy Irons started out with a couple lay days but that is normal with any stop on any tour as they waited for the days with the perfect conditions. I had my bets on Mick Fanning to win the whole thing having had a year full of ups and downs I thought not only did he deserve a win but would have earned that win. He won stop 2 at the Rip Curl Pro Bells in BeachBells Beach, Victoria, Australia, was attacked by a shark at stop 6 in the J-Bay Open in Jeffreys Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa (where the contest was later cancelled), won stop 8 at the Hurley Pro at Trestlesn in Lower Trestles, California, U.S.A., and paddled out in Round 3 of the Billabong Pipe Masters after just receiving the news that one of his brothers had died. Fanning, one of 5 brothers, had already lost another sibling in a car accident so loosing yet another was devastating. Despite that, he won that third round knocking out Jamie O’Brien and went on to beat out Kelly Slater and John John Florence in Round 4 moving Florence and Slater to Round 5 and propelling Fanning to the Quarterfinals where he knocked out Slater. As the clock ticked down in the Semifinals I was certain of a bonafide Fanning win but Medina won in the final minutes.
In the second heat of the Semifinals Adriano de Souza beat Mason Ho (Coco Ho’s brother) advancing to the Finals against Medina for another battle of the Brazilians, which is something we have seen all tour, and on Jeep’s Leaderboard. Along the tour de Souza won at stop 3 in the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro in Margaret River, Western Australia and Medina took the win at stop 9 at the Quiksilver Pro France in Landes, Aquitaine, France but it was de Souza that took home the 2015 World Title, after 10 years on tour, in addition to the Pipe Masters Championship. Medina won the ASP 2014 World Championship and he and De Souza are two of the three Brazilians in the top 5 surfers of the world. Brazilian flags flew as de Souza was lifted off his feet and cheered on upon returning to the beach after the final heat and his win as the first Brazilian Pipe Masters Champion. De Souza’s history making and back to back WSL Titles for the rising surfing nation of Brazil proves to be wins for not only the surfers themselves but for the country itself.
From the World Surfing League:
BANZAI PIPELINE, Oahu/Hawaii (Thursday, December 17, 2015) – After what can only be called the most dramatic day in pro surfing history, Brazilian Adriano de Souza (BRA) has clinched the 2015 World Surf League (WSL) Title at the world-renowned Banzai Pipeline in Oahu, Hawaii. In the process, he also became the first Brazilian to win the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons.
Surfing for ten years amongst the world’s elite and setting the stage for the rise of the ‘Brazilian Storm,’ De Souza’s Title clinching performance came with a significant wave of emotions, as he dedicated the victory to fallen compatriot Ricardo dos Santos who died earlier this year.
“It’s an incredible feeling and so special in dedication to my good friend Ricardo dos Santos,” de Souza said. “I have this tattoo in memory of him — he had the same tattoo that said ‘Strength, Balance and Love,’ and that’s all I needed to win this World Title. This is all in dedication to my brother as well, who bought me my first surfboard for seven dollars and now I’m on top of the world. What a dream to be a Pipeline Champion Master like Jamie [O’Brien] and Kelly [Slater] and Bede Durbidge, just so many names going through my brain now. There’s no words to describe how I’m feeling right now.”
The final day of the 2015 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour began with three contenders in the hunt for the world surfing crown – Mick Fanning (AUS), Gabriel Medina (BRA) and de Souza. Fanning’s Quarterfinal win over 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) ousted Medina from the race, but a late big air maneuver from Medina in their Semifinal eliminated the Australian from competition, crowning De Souza the new World Champion.
Taking down an explosive wildcard in Mason Ho (HAW) for a Semifinal win, de Souza claimed the coveted World Title after a loss earlier in the year at the Moche Rip Curl Pro had him doubting his chances heading into Pipeline.
“About midway through the year I thought Mick deserved the World Title more than me,” de Souza said. “He’s such a strong man and a three-time World Champ battling me for my first title was scary. I just wanted to give my best wishes to Mick and his mom — I had such a mix of emotions, but the day of my life has arrived.”
Fanning came into Pipeline having won his first-ever Hawaiian event at the Vans World Cup of Surfing and looked to be the favorite to win the World Title. But after being eliminated by Medina, his Title chances were left to Ho who couldn’t seal it for the three-time WSL Champion despite Fanning’s incredible win over Kelly Slater (USA).
“The energy’s been amazing walking down to the shore,” Fanning said. “I’m almost in tears every time I ‘ve paddled out and I’m just kind of going with the emotions. I had a friend tell me once that we can do anything and you just have to do it the best you can and stay true to yourself and things will happen.”
Claiming Runner-up status at the Billabong Pipe Masters for the second, consecutive year and the first Brazilian to earn a Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title, Gabriel Medina (BRA) achieved a phenomenal comeback after a tough start to 2015. Turning his season around at the Billabong Pro Tahiti with a Runner-Up finish, the defending WSL Champion stood proud hoisting his well-deserved trophy.
“I’m really stoked to be the first Brazilian to win a Triple Crown – it was actually my goal coming to Hawaii,” Medina said. “This year has been difficult for me when I lost the first four events and everyone said I wouldn’t have a shot at the World Title. I’m so thankful to come here and be a part of the World Title race. I’m so happy to make the Final, it was a tough heat against Mick and I got the score I needed in the last minute and I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m so excited for Adriano to win his first World Title and Pipe Master – I know he’s been dreaming for ages and he did everything he could.”
It was Medina who ended C.J. Hobgood’s (USA) final run at a Pipe Master title, earning a Quarterfinal appearance in his last WSL Championship Tour competition. Winning a World Title in 2001, the 36-year-old Florida native spent 17 years on the dream tour – giving fans and fellow competitors so many fond memories to look back on.
“You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with and I’ve spent the last 17 years of my life surrounding myself with, who I think, are not only the best surfers in the world, but the best humans,” Hobgood said. “I think this surfing platform is not just better than when I started, it’s 1,000 percent better so I’m happy to leave. The surfers are better, their characters and I just want to thank WSL for not only giving me this platform to speak right now but the stage out there to perform and do what I love. I’m fortunate enough that they work with us and continue to work closely with us, and hopefully it just keeps getting better and better because I’m going to be at home watching – so I’m going to be demanding the best. I just want to thank you guys, I’m stoked to get to work with Salty Crew now – thank you, love you…bye.”
De Souza’s 2015 Samsung Galaxy WSL CT Results:
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast: 3rd
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: 2nd
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro: WINNER
Oi Rio Pro: 13th
Fiji Pro: 13th
J-Bay Open: 5th
Billabong Pro Tahiti: 13th
Hurley Pro at Trestles: 2nd
Quiksilver Pro France: 3rd
Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal: 13th
Billabong Pipe Masters: WINNER
De Souza joins Carissa Moore (HAW) as 2015 WSL Champion; Moore won her title at Maui earlier this month.
“December 2015 has been the biggest month ever in the history of professional surfing,” said Paul Speaker, CEO of the World Surf League. “The Billabong Pipe Masters achieved the largest audience and greatest live viewership in the history of the sport, and we are so grateful to the athletes, fans and our partners for delivering a season to remember. Our congratulations go out to Adriano de Souza on an incredible Pipeline performance and first World Title, as well as maiden Pipe Masters title, and Gabriel Medina for claiming Brazil’s first Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title. We’d also like to extend our deepest condolences to the Fanning family and their tragic loss, and best wishes to Bede Durbidge and Owen Wright, their families, on their serious injuries toward a full recovery.”
The world’s best surfers will return in 2016 with the kick-off event at Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia in March.
For more information, log onto www.WorldSurfLeague.com
BILLABONG PIPE MASTER FINAL RESULTS:
1- Adriano De Souza (BRA) 14.07
2- Gabriel Medina (BRA) 8.50
BILLABONG PIPE MASTER SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.33 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 10.86
SF 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 6.83 def. Mason Ho (HAW) 3.83
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.67 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 4.67
QF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 9.50 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 6.17
QF 3: Mason Ho (HAW) 8.03 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 4.53
QF 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 5.50 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 4.43
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.34 def. John John Florence (HAW) 9.76
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.07 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 9.77
Heat 3: Adam Melling (AUS) 5.17 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 4.20
Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.83 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 7.73
Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL has energized an already-passionate global fan base with millions around the world tuning in to see the likes of Kelly Slater, Filipe Toledo, Gabriel Medina, Makua Rothman, Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Greg Long, Stephanie Gilmore, John John Florence, Carissa Moore and others do battle in the most dynamic field of play in all of sports. For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.