De Souza Clinches the 2015 World Title and Pipe MastersDec 17, 2015
Finals Day at the Billabong Pipe Masters was filled with brilliant performances but the day ultimately belonged to Brazil, culminating in a Final with two of its biggest stars. After a decade of dedication, Adriano de Souza became the second Brazilian World Champion ever, and the first-ever Brazilian winner of the Pipe Masters. Gabriel Medina, who faced De Souza in the Final and won the first-ever Title for Brazil, didn't go home empty-handed. In another first for Brazil, Medina won the 2015 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, which goes to the surfer with the highest points total for its three events.
Along with the huge, exuberant finale, finals day at Pipeline featured a handful of other highlights:
As the Quarterfinals unfolded, two giants took to the water in the contest's second, high-stakes superheat with Title contender Mick Fanning (AUS) facing Kelly Slater (USA).
For the majority of the heat, they traded small scores for quick tube rides with the pressure on Fanning growing with every second. But in the final moments, Fanning made an impossible drop from the lip, and flew past the foam into the barrel of the heat, earning a 6.00 to eliminate Slater and advance to the Semis. Fanning's heat win killed two birds with one stone, eliminating Gabriel Medina (BRA) from Title contention.
The remaining Title contender, Adriano de Souza (BRA), faced even tougher conditions as the scraps of swell that had brought such epic waves Wednesday had begun to die. Battling for himself and for Fanning's Title hopes, Josh Kerr did his part to keep De Souza off the significant scoring opportunities. Undeterred, De Souza battled back and in the final moments turned the heat around with a tough tube ride to advance to the Semifinals. His heroic effort kept the Title race going for another round.
Fanning started his Semifinal heat with a substantial two-section tube at Backdoor, immediately putting pressure on Medina. Fanning found a decent backup wave, forcing Medina to spend the heat chipping away at Fanning's lead. Then with three minutes remaining, the Brazilian did what he's known for: On a small ramp, he flew above the lip for a full rotation air. The maneuver won him the heat, eliminating Fanning and leaving the door open for De Souza's Title dreams. He also became the first Brazilian to win the Triple Crown.
Vans Triple Crown Champ, Gabriel Medina. Photo: WSL / Kirstin
De Souza's Semifinal was no sure bet. He was pitted against wildcard Mason Ho (HAW), who had local knowledge on his side. The first crucial exchange unfolded at the midway point, when both surfers took set waves at Backdoor. De Souza took a narrow lead, and held on until the final horn, as his Title was secured. He was full of emotion, and returned to a hero's welcome on shore.
Semifinalist Mason Ho. Photo: WSL / Cestari
But the warm fuzzies were set aside for the all-Brazilian Final, in which De Souza could do no wrong. Within the first 10 minutes, he earned the biggest heat total of the day with two clean, head-high barrel rides at Backdoor. Medina was able to add a few four-point waves to his scoreline but De Souza's closing wave solidified him the win.
It was a huge day for the 10-year Tour veteran, and a massive day for Brazil.