Senior Editor

On Gabriel Medina’s first wave of the first event of the year, he got an interference. What a perfect way to start! Wham, bam, rewind that cam!

If there’s one guy on the tour who gets viewers riled up, it’s Gabriel Medina. He is shameless about his need to win. He is surfing’s Martin Shkreli, laughing in the face of haters screaming obscenities in purple-faced rage. He is surfing’s consummate competitor, brazenly burning, hassling, and generally doing unsurfy-like things in the name of the almighty win.  Remember the totally legal GOAT-burn at Pipeline? Oh, it was incredible. So outrageously brash. So full of don’t-give-a-fuck-what-you-think-I’m-only-here-to-win! Don’t get me wrong—I think it’s a good thing. Pro surfing is a different beast than regular surfing. If the waves are small and say, Seabass and Michel Bourez are surfing, it is about as exciting as listening to paint dry. But pro surfing is a sport. It has jerseys and scoring and trophies, and Medina plays it better than nearly anyone else.

Just after the horn sounded in the fifth heat of the first round of the Snapper event, Gabriel Medina and Leo Fioravanti got into an arm-swinging paddle battle as a set wave rolled towards them. Leo swings around, Medina swings around, and both go. Leo too late. Medina in the perfect spot. Medina highlines, then backdoors. Medina proceeds to murder the wave while Leo flounders behind, watching helplessly as surfing’s arch-nemesis smash-fucks a beautiful wave into oblivion. Yes! We have a story where the bad guy wins! For a minute we did, at least.

The judges threw excellent range scores down from their ivory tower.  With them, though, they threw a priority interference and effectively put Medina in a combination situation and directly into the second round.


Don't try and click on it.

Don’t try and click on it.

“AAAAGH!” screamed the Medina haters with scarlet faces and gnashing teeth. “HE DID IT AGAIN!” And you know what? It’s good. Embrace the villain. Love the villain. For without the villain, we’d be stuck with a wanna-be tennis tour, only one without John McEnroe.

And guess what? Fioravanti didn’t win, either. Italo Ferreira ended up in the top spot, which means that round two heat two is going to be Medina versus Fioravanti. Are you telling me you don’t want to watch that? Medina makes cliff-hangers. Medina makes a person who is bored to tears by pro surfing (me) excited to watch another heat.

It is worth mentioning though, just in case you haven’t made the connection: while pro surfing is a sport and Gabriel Medina is exceptionally good at playing it, the surfing you do on the weekend and before work is not a sport… so, unless you’re in a contest, don’t surf like Gabriel Medina.


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