Reigning World Surf League (WSL) Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) has landed in Australia and will lead the world’s best surfers this coming week at the opening stop of the season, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by BOQ.
The WSL Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour (CT), the 11-stop, international series featuring the world’s best surfers in the world’s best waves, commences annually on Australia’s Gold Coast with the unparalleled adventure, competitive drama and athleticism of professional surfing showcased live at WorldSurfLeague.com.
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, where Medina was victorious last season at the start of his momentous year, boasts the added importance of 50% of the winners over the past decade going on to claim that year’s world title.
Medina’s 2014 title run was historic in that he became the first Brazilian to claim the world surfing crown in the sport’s near-40-year history and the first 20-year-old to do so since sporting icon Kelly Slater (USA) in 1992.
“It was fun and intense in the weeks after arriving home to Brazil,” Medina said. “I had a great time celebrating with all my fans, friends and people here. The reception was amazing and I was also able to spend a couple of weeks relaxing at Florianopolis and Maresias with Neymar, my family and my closest friends as well. After that, I had lots of commercial and media duties with my sponsors.”
“In the last three weeks, I started training hard with my team back home,” Medina continued. “Recently, I traveled to Santa Barbara and Hawaii for surfing and enjoyed great waves. I’m now in Australia, ready and very excited for the 2015 season.”
While the now-21-year-old is favored for another major run in 2015, defending his maiden title will be an uphill battle, historically speaking. In the past 20 years, the only two male surfers to successfully claim back-to-back titles have been the aforementioned 11-time champion Slater and the late three-time champion Andy Irons (HAW).
“Winning my first World Title was my biggest dream becoming a reality. I celebrated a lot, but I’m now concentrated and focused on this season,” said Medina. “I will continue to do my best, but also enjoy competing and being on tour – we’re very fortunate to do what we do. Kelly (Slater) and Andy (Irons) always inspired me and they continue to do so. That said, the tour is incredibly strong. This will be a challenging, but exciting year.”
Medina will face rookie compatriot Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) and either the event wildcard or the winner of the trials in Round 1 of competition.
The men’s rookie class for the 2015 season includes Matt Banting (AUS), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Keanu Asing (HAW) and Ricardo Christie (NZL)with returning CT surfers Dusty Payne (HAW) and Glenn Hall (IRL) rejoining the world’s elite after a brief hiatus.
Dane Reynolds (USA), former CT surfer, has been announced as one of two wildcards for the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. The remaining wildcard position will be determined via local trials to be held on February 27.
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com.
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Ricardo Christie (ZAF)
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW), Jadson Andre (BRA), Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS), Matt Banting (AUS), TBD
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), TBD
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Kai Otton (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 10: Josh Kerr (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (USA), Julian Wilson (AUS), Italo Ferreira (BRA)
Heat 12: Owen Wright (AUS), Nat Young (USA), Adam Melling (AUS)
Running in conjunction with the Quiksilver Pro will be the world’s best female surfers in the Roxy Pro Gold Coast.
Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW), Johanne Defay (FRA), Sage Erickson (USA)
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Courtney Conlogue (USA), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Silvana Lima (BRA), TBD
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS), Dimity Stoyle (AUS), Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW), Laura Enever (AUS), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)
Heat 6: Lakey Peterson (USA), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), Coco Ho (HAW)