Monday in Hawaii, World No. 9 Filipe Toledo overcame an early deficit in the Final to steamroll his way to the top of the podium at the 2017 Hawaiian Pro. It's Toledo's first-ever victory on the North Shore and his third event win of 2017, nestled alongside groundbreaking Championship Tour event wins at J-Bay and Trestles.
"This is amazing!," said Toledo after his win. "I got runner-up in 2015 and got a little taste of victory early in that Final, but I stuck to my game and did what I needed to do today."
And by virtue of his Haleiwa title, the Brazilian is now the leader of a hotly contested race for the Triple Crown. A lead which tightened up significantly when the Brazilian revealed he'll be skipping the second jewel in the crown, the Vans World Cup at Sunset Beach, which begins in less than a week.
With four heats to get through in order to reach the Final, and a river still running through the peak at Haleiwa, one of the keys on day four was to stay busy outside of priority, as it helped avoid fighting off the treadmill of a current ripping up the lineup. It may sound counter-intuitive, but surfers were catching plenty of waves to save energy.
Prior to the Final, conditions became slightly more organized, but it was still tough to read the messy lineup. A rainbow appeared just to the north over Puaena Point. Nineteen-year-old Griffin Colapinto had burst into the lead, opening with an 8.17. His fellow finalists, all Championship Tour surfers -- Filipe Toledo, Wiggolly Dantas and Michel Bourez -- were quickly in a hole.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, midway through the Final, the skies darkened, the wind picked up and a rainsquall opened, providing a brief glimpse of typical late November weather on Oahu's North Shore. Then, minutes later, the rain was gone and the sun popped back out.
By the time that squall had passed and another rainbow had appeared, Toledo was back out in front. Can anyone turn a heat faster than he can? The Brazilian had strung together three solid scores, including an 8.87, to erase Colapinto's commanding lead. "It was an average wave," said Toledo, describing the ride that sealed his win. "Once I hit the lip I felt my board break and I landed on the foam, I was scared that the board would separate as I rode out."
When the day kicked off, six of the top 10-ranked Qualifying Series surfers were still alive on Finals Day as Round Four hit the water. But by the start of the first Quarterfinal, No. 6 Tomas Hermes and No. 7 Colapinto (both of whom have effectively locked their slots on the 2018 CT) were the only QS surfers left standing.
Under the tutelage of Jake "Snake Tales" Patterson, and the watchful eye of his adopted Moniz ohana, Colapinto has emerged as a dark horse for the Triple Crown title, and jumped from No. 7 to No. 2 overall on the New Era QS rankings. Hermes' trip to the Semifinals moved him up to the No. 4 spot.
"This is the dream," Hermes said, after he crossed the all important 19,000 point threshold.
"I'm at a loss for words," said Colapinto, who lives just down the road from Filipe Toledo in San Clemente, California. "I've gone through so much hard work, I have to thank my parents. We committed to this path when I was 15," he revealed, "and the goal by the time I turned 19 was to be qualified [for the CT]. I nailed my goals at this spot, I'm so proud of that, it's a lot to process."