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[caption id="attachment_3492" align="alignnone" width="750"] Adriano De Souza of Brasil (pictured) points to the sky after his Quarterfinal victory at the Buillabong Pipe Masters on Thursday December 17, 2015.[/caption]
It was the ultimate showdown. One of the most intense world title races of the century. And one of the most dramatic surfing seasons of all time. Adriano de Souza, 28, is the undisputed 2015 World Surf League champion. He is the first Brazilian to win the Billabong Pipe Masters.
In the beginning, we had six world title contenders. In the end, only one would win. The most important day of the year for professional surfers had marginal four-to-six-foot waves. It wasn’t firing, but the 2015 Billabong Pipe Masters performance did and will forever be in the hearts of millions of surf fans.
Gabriel Medina knew that if Fanning reached the semifinals, he would be out of the equation. Adriano de Souza had to finish ahead of Mick.
Medina won his quarterfinal against CJ Hobgood. Fanning survived a tense clash against Slater and narrowed the title race to just him and De Souza. Kerr wanted to help his Australian friend, but Adriano made sure he wanted to take the game into the dying heats of the season.
Talk about stress: Gabriel Medina versus Mick Fanning. With two minutes to go, the 2014 champion pulls a full rotation air and wins the heat. Only Mason Ho could save the Australian.
The pressure was on Adriano de Souza. With a victory against the Hawaiian, he would clinch a maiden WSL title. But the Brazilian wanted it so much that he ended up stealing the heat from Ho’s fins, in a low-scoring affair. Adriano de Souza is the 2015 World Surf League champion.
“It’s an incredible feeling. This is for Ricardo dos Santos. In the middle of the title race, I thought Mick deserved it better than me. I wanted to hug Mick’s mum, but I was scared because we were in a world title race,” an emotional Adriano de Souza told in tears.
The day of my life arrived. I need to have a break and get back there again. When I lost in Portugal, I was so sad. Jamie [O’Brien] helped me here, and I want to dedicate this to my brother, who bought my first board for seven dollars. I thank God. I feel blessed, and I will carry the soul of Ricardo here on Earth.”
Adriano de Souza, the “hard worker,” dedicated his first World Surf League title to the late Brazilian surfer Ricardo dos Santos. Gabriel Medina is also the first Brazilian to win the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
It was a bittersweet defeat for Mick Fanning. The three-time world surfing champion lost his eldest brother and put out an incredible performance. The “White Lightning” did his best, despite the emotional roller coaster he’s been through.
Fanning put those emotions to the side and conquered thousands of new fans throughout the world. Kelly Slater was backing and supporting Mick. In a single year, the Australian survived everything – a shark attack, superheats, and the loss of a sibling. He is a spectacular vice-world champion, and made his country proud.
One final word for Clifton James “CJ” Hobgood. The Floridian competed for the first time in 1989. Twenty-six years later, he decided to retire. With a world title (2001), multiple event wins, and lots of memories.
“I’ve lived a dream life. I’ve been fortunate for the past 17 years of my life with the best surfers in the world. I am happy to leave. The surfers are better; they are better characters. Thank you WSL for giving me the stage to perform. The sport is getting better and better,” expressed CJ Hobgood.
2015 Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons | Final
1. Adriano de Souza (BRA), 14.07
2. Gabriel Medina (BRA), 8.50
2015 World Surf League Men’s Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour | Top 5
1. Adriano de Souza (BRA)
2. Mick Fanning (AUS)
3. Gabriel Medina (BRA)
4. Filipe Toledo (BRA)
5. Owen Wright (AUS)
World Surfing Titles | The Best Ever
Kelly Slater (USA): 11
Mark Richards (AUS): 4+1
Mick Fanning (AUS): 3
Andy Irons (HAW): 3
Tom Curren (USA): 3
Damien Hardman (AUS): 2
Tom Carroll (AUS): 2
2016 World Surf League Samsung Galaxy Men’s Championship Tour | Events
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast – March 10-21, 2016
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach – March 24-April 5, 2016
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro – April 8-19, 2016
Rio Pro – May 10-21, 2016
Fiji Pro – June 5-17, 2016
J-Bay Open – July 6-17, 2016
Billabong Pro Teahupo’o – August 19-30, 2016
Hurley Pro at Trestles – September 7-18, 2016
Quiksilver Pro France – October 4-15, 2016
Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal – October 18-29, 2016
Billabong Pipe Masters – December 8-20, 2016
2016 World Surf League Samsung Galaxy Women’s Championship Tour | Events
Roxy Pro Gold Coast – March 10-21, 2016
Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach – March 24-April 5, 2016
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro – April 8-19, 2016
Rio Women’s Pro – May 10-21, 2016
Fiji Women’s Pro – May 29-June 3, 2016
Vans US Open of Surfing – July 25 – 31, 2016
Trestles Women’s Pro – September 7-18, 2016
Cascais Women’s Pro – September 24-Oct 2, 2016
Roxy Pro France – October 4-15, 2016
Maui Women’s Pro – November 22-December 6, 2016
The final standings have been updated, and the top 10 surfers on this year’s Qualifying Series have their name on the upcoming Dream Tour roster.
1. Caio Ibelli (BRA) – 30,000
2. Kolohe Andino (USA) – 28,500
3. Jack Freestone (AUS) – 28,500
4. Miguel Pupo (BRA) – 26,100
5. Filipe Toledo (BRA) – 25,500 (Qualified Via WCT)
6. Alejo Muniz (BRA) – 25,500
7. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) – 23,350
8. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) – 22,550
9. Conner Coffin (USA) – 21,450
10. Davey Cathels (AUS) – 21,300
10. Ryan Callinan (AUS) – 21,300
The new faces – Jack Freestone, Kanoa Igarashi, Alex Ribeiro, Conner Coffin, Davey Cathels and Ryan Callinan.