As the 2014 World Championship Tour (WCT) season drew to a close, history was made as Gabriel Medina became the first Brazilian to win a World Title. And with four nines on Finals Day, Julian Wilson (AUS) won the Billabong Pipe Masters and the Vans Triple Crown. Here's how it all went down:
Heading into the Billabong Pipe Masters event, Julian Wilson (AUS) needed a first place finish to secure a Vans Triple Crown title. Brazil's first World Champion Gabriel Medina sought to find the perfect ending to an emotional day with a victory at one of professional surfing's biggest stages.
In the dying minutes, Wilson narrowly bested the newly-crowned Champ with a second nine-point ride, bringing his heat total to a near-perfect 19.63 to secure both the Pipe Masters and Triple Crown titles.
Julian Wilson (AUS) had just enough time to switch his jersey in the water before beginning his Semifinal heat against Adrian Buchan. Both surfers were looking for to make the podium for the first time this year, but Wilson's momentum would carry him into the Final and keep his Vans Triple Crown hopes alive as well.
The overlapping format gave 2014 World Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) a short window to catch his breath before entering the water against Josh Kerr (AUS). Kerr started strong with an 8.33 but couldn't find a backup score to overcome Medina's 13.60 two-wave total.
Aussies Julian Wilson and Kai Otton fought for the last spot in the Semifinals. Otton made an aggressive attempt, but could not find the right waves amidst the distraction on the beach, collecting only a 2.77 two-wave total to Wilson's 17.83.
The third heat of the Quarters saw Adrian Buchan (AUS) and Alejo Muniz (BRA) face off. Muniz needed a win to stay on Tour but fell to his Aussie opponent. After a monster day at Pipe, Muniz will compete in 2015 on the Qualification Series (QS).
Gabriel Medina (BRA) had just been crowned the 2014 ASP World Champion, but there was still surfing to do. After a quick celebration on shore, he paddled back out to face fellow Brazilian Filipe Toledo for a spot in the Semis. Still on fire from his Title coup, Medina's hot streak continued and he won the heat.
Round 5 concluded with Julian Wilson (AUS) and Sebastian Zietz (HAW). While both surfers are assured spots on the 2015 WCT, Wilson had the Vans Triple Crown title on the line. He won and moved on to the Quarters.
In a heat with high stakes, Mick Fanning (AUS) took on Alejo Muniz (BRA). Muniz had already defeated one Title contender and he was out for more blood. He became the second most popular surfer in Brazil when he eliminated Fanning, ensuring the Crown would go to Medina.
Watch Round 5, Heat 2 using the Billabong Pipe Masters Heat Analyzer. In the second heat of Round 5, Josh Kerr (AUS) and Michel Bourez (PYF) battled to stay in the game. It was Kerrzy who found the best waves of the heat, taking the win and moving on to the Quarterfinals.
Brazilian Filipe Toledo and Aussie Owen Wright went head-to-head for a spot in the Quarterfinals. Wright suffered an injury early on and was unable to finish the heat. Toledo's pair of midrange scores earned him the win.
Round 4, Heat 3 was an all-Aussie affair featuring Ace Buchan, Julian Wilson and Title contender Mick Fanning. Amid a handful of small scores, Buchan emerged as the heat leader and advanced directly to the Quarters.
But the heat became Medina's after he pulled into -- and out of -- a deep barrel that earned him an 8.67. He won the heat with a combined 15.67, just a fraction of a point ahead of Toledo, and advanced directly to the Quarters.
Round 4, a non-elimination round, kicked off with Pipe local John John Florence (HAW), "The Spartan" Michel Bourez (PYF) and Aussie barrel-master Owen Wright in the water. Scores remained low overall, but it was Florence who again topped the field with style and expertise.
Amid the growing crowd, Kelly Slater (USA) found a moment of silence before his heat against Alejo Muniz (BRA), the 12th of Round 3. While Slater's Title run was over, as a 7-time Pipe Master, he still had a lot on the line. It was Muniz, though, who pulled into the best barrel of the heat, earning a 9.50 to take the win.
"This is like a dream come true to me, it's like winning the contest,â€ said Muniz. â€œI've never surfed against Kelly man-on-man before so I was thanking God that I got the chance in my last event on the World Tour this year. The wave came and I knew it was a good one. I thought I was a little bit deep but I had to try and it paid off, it's unbelievable to me.â€
Kai Otton (AUS) and Nat Young (USA) found what they could in a slow heat. Otton had a narrow lead through most of it, while Young lagged with just one wave after 20 minutes. In the end, Otton took the win.
As the drama played out on the beach, Aussie Joel Parkinson and Hawaiian Sebastian Zietz went to battle in Heat 10. Despite Parko's barrel expertise, it was Seabass who maintained the lead. Parkinson found a nice tube in the final minute, but it wasn't enough to edge out Zietz.
Heat 9 was among the biggest of the day: Reigning World Champ Mick Fanning took on 2010 Pipe winner Jeremy Flores in a heat that could determine the 2014 World Title. Fanning waited for his wave while Flores picked off smaller tubes to take the lead. But Fanning found a perfect barrel in the final minutes to earn an eight-pointer and win.
California native Kolohe Andino and Aussie Julian Wilson matched up in Heat 7, and Wilson quickly took the lead and didn't let go. His win gave him enough points to requalify for the World Tour with his WCT rank. Because he didn't need his QS ranking, New Zealand's Ricardo Christie will get the last slot open to a QS surfer.
The real show of the morning started on the beach, as herds of fans and media swarmed around World No. 1 Gabriel Medina (BRA). His parents, Charles and Simone, accompanied him to the water's edge and held hands as they stepped away before his heat. Medina's heat against Triple Crown leader Dusty Payne (HAW) had a World Title riding on the results. His ensuing win effectively ended World No. 3 Kelly Slater's chance at the 2014 Championship and kept the Medina fever going strong on the beach.
The fifth heat of the morning featured the high-flying Filipe Toledo (BRA) up against Miguel Pupo (BRA). Toledo ultimately came out on top, thanks largely to rides on Backdoor's righthand waves. Interestingly, in his post-heat interview, he said taking those was part of his strategy to keep Payne -- Medina's opponent in an overlapping heat -- off of them.
Round 3, Heat 4 featured the hard-charging Brazilian Jadson Andre and Aussie Josh Kerr go head-to-head. Andre, who has emerged in recent months as a standout on the Tour for his big risk-taking and willingness to push hard for his wins, had the lead for much of his heat. He lost it in the last minutes, though, and couldn't find the wave he needed.
Matt Wilkinson (AUS) and Michel Bourez (PYF) found a few clean barrels, but both earned low scores overall. Bourez just edged out his opponent ending Wilko's run at Pipe, and keeping his own Triple Crown hopes alive. While Wilko won't go home with a trophy, his performance at the first two stops of the Triple Crown -- The Reef Hawaiian Pro and the Vans World Cup of Surfing -- helped him requalify for the Tour with his QS ranking after a year of mixed results on the WCT.
Round 3, Heat 2 saw a clash between Freddy Patacchia Jr. (HAW) and Owen Wright (AUS). Despite a strong performance from Patacchia, it was Wright who emerged triumphant, with an eight-pointer that bolstered his scoreline.
Adam Melling (AUS) and local hero John John Florence (HAW) opened the day, trading back-to-back barrels. Florence got his air game going early, almost making a big rotation after flying out of a barrel. And while Melling found some solid barrels of his own, his board broke in half in the final moments and he wasn't able to find the score he would have needed to win.