After eight days of laying low, it was finals day at this year’s Billabong Pipe Masters yesterday. With only two more days left to complete the competition, a swell from the North West brought some solid 6 – 8ft Pipeline and Backdoor waves to Hawaii’s North Shore. And what a finals day it would be with three guys still fighting for the world title as well as deciders on the Vans Triple Crown champion and Olympic qualification.
Italo Ferreira and Gabriel Medina, the first and second seed in the Jeep leaderboard, were the favourites for the win at Pipe and subsequently winning the world title. However, with John John Florence and 11-time world champ Kelly Slater, there were surfers in the mix with the potential to screw things up for them. The conditions had been somewhat inconsistent over the last week forcing the organizers of the event to postpone the final day of surfing several times. The tough conditions and having a couple of specialists at Pipe in the mix had a real impact on the odds at the bookies.
For example, despite Ferreira being the undisputed and massive favourite over Peterson Crisanto in the quarters, you were still getting odds of 1.28. Gabriel Medina, two-times world champion and currently the world’s best surfer, also had odds of over 1.3 for winning against Caio Ibelli. During all heats on finals day, bookmakers gave players very favourable odds even when placing bets on the absolute favourites, as reported by the gambling portal sister-sites.co.uk.
Ferreira withstands the pressure
In the first couple of heats of the day, Italo Ferreira faced guys he was expected to win against, but in the semis it was showtime. No other than 11-time world champion and GOAT Kelly Slater were taking him on and forcing him to perform at his very best to make it to the final for the ultimate showdown with depending WSL champion Gabe Media. And what a final heat that was!
Ferreira got off to a good start by taking the first wave off Medina, something that is usually a speciality of Gabriel. A solid 7.38 score put him in the driving-seat that he wouldn’t get out of for the rest of the session. Medina showed some rare mistakes, picking the wrong waves and getting wiped out heavily. He seemed to never regain full strength after a massive hit on the head when a wave closed out early.
The crowd favoured Italo over Gabriel
The crowd at the North Shore is known for being fair to both athletes – with the exception when Kelly is in the waters – but yesterday, it seemed they were rooting louder over Italo Ferreira’s manoeuvres. This might have to do with one of Medina’s earlier heats against Ibelli, where he dropped in on Ibelli to keep him from having the final wave knowing that even with an interference he would go through to the next session.
While there is nothing in the rules that prevents you from doing it – with the exception of receiving a possible interference – it’s considered bad sportsmanship and hasn’t gotten down well with fans around the globe. Whatever your stand is on this, karma seemed to get Gabe this time, and at no time, he appeared to be able to snatch this world title away from Italo.