Tuesday 17 October 2017 / 11:06 AM

CONTENDERS CLOSE IN ON JOHN JOHN

Via World Surf League

John John Florence‘s once-comfortable lead atop the Jeep Leaderboard has all but vanished. In the span of a single event he’s seen the gap reduced to less than 500 points. When the Champ left Australia he held a significant lead over the rest of the pack, nearly 4,000 points ahead of Jordy Smith and Owen Wright, in the No. 2 position.

Florence’s upset loss to giant-killing wildcard Yago Dora in Round Three opened the door for his closest pursuers — Wright, Smith and 2015 World Champion Adriano de Souza. While De Souza left Australia ranked No. 4, he was still more than 8,500 points behind the Hawaiian Jeep Leader.

How quickly things change.

By virtue of their fifth-place finishes, both Owen Wright and Jordy Smith climbed to within 350 points of Florence, who remains in the Jeep Leader position heading into Fiji with 24,750 points. Had Jordy and Owen made the Semifinals, both would have been wearing the Jeep Leader jersey in their Semifinal match, which would have been against each other. But Ace Buchan and Matt Wilkinson put a big lid on those plans.

Of the surfers who entered the Oi Rio Pro in the Top 5, De Souza was the last man standing. In typical form, he silently disposed of everyone who stood in his way. De Souza didn’t lose a single heat along the way, despite facing the likes of fellow World Champions Gabriel Medina and Joel Parkinson, rising star Yago Dora, and the always dangerous Ace Buchan in the Final.

De Souza’s emotional win — his first since the Billabong Pipe Masters in 2015 — delighted the passionate Saquarema crowd. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been up here, but I’m so happy to win here in front of this crowd,” he said.

Buchan arrived at the Oin Rio Pro way back in the No. 24 position on the rankings, but with his fantastic runner-up performance, the Australian vet has jumped 12 spots to No. 12 on the Jeep Leaderboard, just behind a surging Mick Fanning at No. 11.

Meanwhile, inside the Top 10, Matt Wilkinson has moved up to No. 4, just in front of Joel Parkinson, while Kolohe Andino and Filipe Toledo both fell two spots, to No. 7 and 8 respectively.

Toledo’s situation is even more tenuous due to a one-event suspension following his outburst after his loss to Kanoa Igarashi in Round Three. Toledo will not be surfing in the Outerknown Fiji Pro which, combined with his 13th-place finish, will deal a serious blow to his World Title aspirations in 2017.

 

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