O’Neill SP Prime
ASP Men's Prime Event
Maresias, Sao Paulo Brazil
3 - 8 November 2014
Check the Live Action | Portuguese
Crowd packs the beach to watch Gabriel Medina in action
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 4 November, 2014 - On Monday, a packed crowd filled the beach at Maresias to watch local surfer and current World Championship Tour leader Gabriel Medina (BRA) at the opening day of the O’Neill SP Prime presented by Guarana Antarctica in Maresias, Brazil. Medina was able to lock in two solid backside air reverses, but it was Italo Ferreira (BRA) that stole the spotlight by earning a 9.53 for the day’s highest scoring wave. Ferreira quickly backed up his score with an 8-point ride to take first place in Heat 12 of Round 1.
"It feels great to win that heat," said Italo Ferreira, who is coming fresh off of a runner-up finish at the ASP World Junior Championship in Portugal. "It was tough because Medina, Kiron (Jabour) and Magno (Pacheco) know this wave really well. The conditions improved a lot in the afternoon and the wind was perfect for those kinds of airs. So I stuck to the rights and tried to land a big one. I knew I had to go for something big to beat Gabriel. But this is just the beginning of the event and I still need another solid result to guarantee my spot onto the WCT."
Yet today’s crowd was here to see their hometown hero in action. The increasing amounts of people on the beach were welcomed with summerlike temperatures, waves in the 3-foot range (1 meter) and transparent water. After knotting a heat total of 14.86, Medina spent an extended amount of time signing autographs and taking pictures with fans.
"The heat was really good, Italo landed some nice airs and he ended up winning the heat," said Medina. "But the important thing is that I made it to the next round and I’m stoked that I’m through."
Gabriel Medina has led the WCT rankings for most of the year and now has the opportunity to become the first Brazilian to win the Title. However, standing in his way are Kelly Slater (USA) and Mick Fanning (AUS) who both have ample experience in title races and at the Pipeline reefbreak.
"I’m not really thinking about Hawaii," continued Medina. "Right now my focus is on this event. I haven’t competed here in Maresias since 2010, so I’d love to get a good result here. After I’m done here, I’ll fly to Hawaii to begin some special training before the last WCT event of the year. I’m anxious to get this rolling, but I’m also confident that I can do well at Pipe."
Another surfer that brought the crowds to their feet with his aerial performance was Julian Wilson (AUS), who obtained an 18.16 for the highest heat total of the O’Neill SP Prime.
"Yeah, the waves are nice. I’m glad they put the contest on hold for a little while, because the waves are a lot of fun and they’re opening up," remarked Wilson. When asked about his position on the World Tour, Wilson said, "Right now I’m still qualified on the WCT, but there’s this event and then two in Hawaii, at Haleiwa and Sunset. It’s kind of tough to get a good result there, so I just wanted to come here, catch some fun waves and then head to Hawaii for the rest of the year. I’m doing all I can now and I’m still in, but I’m not safe."
Wilson further commented on the current World Title race. "I think the race is good. Mick’s back in it after Portugal, Gabriel’s in the lead with the points and the other guys need to come from behind. Gabe’s had a good year, Mick’s kind of clawed his way back in and Kelly’s pretty out of it, but you never know with him."
A major upset occurred when ASP Qualification Series rankings leader Jadson Andre (BRA) was eliminated from competition. Matt Banting (AUS) and Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), who both made it into Round 2 of the competition, now threaten his lead.
A total of fifteen WCT surfers are at the O’Neill SP Prime in Maresias fighting for crucial ranking points and a chance to maintain their place in the Top 34. Brett Simpson (USA) has had a difficult year on the World Tour, but displayed his tenacious competitive edge by claiming a victory in Heat 10 of Round 1.
"Yeah, it’s actually really fun out there," stated Simpson. "The waves have picked up a bit and they’re sometimes a little shifty, but there’s a little right that has a reform in it, so that’s what I was looking for. You’ve got to keep an open mind and not be too picky though at a place like this. I’m doing okay on the QS, but I need another good result, so I’m looking to do that here to take a little pressure off in Hawaii. I’m physically surfing well and I’ve just got to chip away at it."
In regards to the Title, Simpson added, "I still feel like Gabriel’s got the advantage. He has to make less heats and he’s proven that he’s pretty good out at Pipeline. Kelly’s a long shot and Mick’s got a chance, but I think Gabriel’s got it."
A call is set for 7:00 am (local time) on Tuesday to assess conditions for a possible start at 7:30 am. When competition resumes at the O’Neill SP Prime, another local favorite, Miguel Pupo (BRA) will receive abundant support from the crowd when he faces Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR), Nathan Hedge (AUS) and Igor Moraes (BRA) in Heat 13 of Round 1.