At this juncture in the 2018 WSL Championship Tour season, it’s Gabriel Medina’s world title to lose. And headed into the Billabong Pipe Masters – an event in which Medina has made two finals in the last four years – that seems unlikely.
Among fans of competitive surfing, the 24-year-old phenom from Maresias is perhaps one of the most polarizing figures on the world tour circuit. To some, Medina is a ruthless competitor – unafraid of ruffling feathers. To others, Gabs’ heat strategy is overly hostile. In the package above, Gabriel’s stepdad Charlie puts it as only Machiavelli could: “[Gabriel] isn’t out there to make friends.”
So how did we get here; with an in-form Medina looking poised to claim his second world title at Pipeline come December? The story is one of a talented young Brazilian being nurtured until enjoying early competitive success – as everyone knew he would. That trope is mirrored in the life of one John John Florence, and should Medina clinch his second title at Pipe (as John did last year) it could ignite the greatest two-horse race for young blood preeminence that we’ve seen in surfing for some time.