|Jack Robinson Claims Famous Victory in Tahiti to Clinch Spot in WSL Final 5
Ahead of the men’s Final, the equation for Jack Robinson (AUS) and Gabriel Medina (BRA) was simple: win the event and and clinch a spot in the Rip Curl WSL Finals. The pair were the last two still in contention after Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), John John Florence (HAW), and Yago Dora (BRA) were all eliminated in the Semifinals and Quarterfinals, respectively. Both Robinson and Medina were the men to beat on Finals Day and seemed destined to meet in the Final.
In true Medina fashion, the two-time Teahupo’o winner got off to a busy start, catching multiple waves to take a solid lead with a 15.00 point (out of a possible 20) heat total. Robinson opted for a more patient approach, waiting for particular waves that eventually came, giving him long hollow tube rides for a pair of 7.83s (out of a possible 10) which gave him a slim win with a two-wave combination of 15.66.
“I was so in ‘it’ coming into this event and so focused – but I was still enjoying myself, it’s so hard to describe the feeling. I don’t know what it is but I feel like It was meant to be,” Robinson said. “I just never stopped, when it was down through the year I pulled it back up and with the help of the people around me who know who they are – it’s a small crew but it has a lot of ‘mana’ (good energy) like this place (Tahiti). I felt like it was my time. You never know when it’s your time, but I felt like I envisaged it was my time now and I’m so happy. After starting this year the way I did then dropping off then coming back and all of that stuff I feel like this was my time. I always said that the Finals would be my last event for the year and I can’t wait for it. I’m excited.”
After winning the first event of the year, then claiming a third and a second-place finish to back it up and head towards the mid-season cut wearing the yellow Leader’s Jersey, Robinson suffered multiple injuries through the middle of the year and came into the SHISEIDO Tahiti Pro in 8th place on the rankings. Robinson needed to win the event to secure his spot in the WSL Final 5 and that is what he did, overcoming fellow Final 5 contenders Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) and Yago Dora (BRA) in the Semifinal and Quarterfinal to set up his matchup with Medina. Robinson will finish the season in 5th on the rankings, having already provisionally qualified for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
Today saw Gabriel Medina (BRA) contest his sixth Final in Tahiti having won the event in 2014 and 2018. The three-time WSL Champion was fresh off a third-place finish at the Corona J-Bay Open last month and was looking to add another victory to his Western Australia Margaret River Pro title from earlier this year. The exciting goofy-footer was on fire all event, posting some of the highest scores for his deep technical tube rides but his runner-up finish wasn’t enough to see him move out of 6th place on the rankings.
“This is a special place to me and a place I love to come to,” Medina said. “I love my time here and love the people here so it’s nice to make another Final in Tahiti. Teahupo’o has given so much to me over the years so it’s great to be here and just enjoy the place and getting barrelled. I did everything I could to make it tough for everyone but in the end, it wasn’t enough but that’s life – I’m happy.”