While every viable world title contender is heading into this year's Quiksilver Pro with high hopes, one man has emerged as the most dominant threat of all at Hossegor: Defending Quik Pro champion and current World No. 2, Gabriel Medina.
In his five Quik Pro appearances since qualifying for the CT, Medina has racked up an impressive range of Tour leading stats, including an Average Heat Score (AHS) of 14.88, a Fantasy Point Average (FPA) of 107.59, a Rounds Advanced (RA) average of 7, and a Heat Winning Percentage (HPA) of 75.86.
Hossegor's notoriously fickle conditions don't seem to bother Medina, who's known for being a master adapter. Whether it's top-to-bottom barrels or onshore air sections, he's got a knack for adjusting on the fly.
"I've been watching Gabe every year here," says Quik Pro wildcard and current Qualifying Series leader Leonardo Fioravanti. "I don't see anyone adapt as well as he does to the way things change so rapidly. Every 30 minutes the waves here are changing a lot because of the huge tides we get, but he's always finding the one that works, and figuring out how it should be surfed."
Indeed, Gabe's ultra-precise, fluid approach has paid major dividends in erratic conditions. He's made the Final in three of his five appearances at the Quiksilver Pro, and he's carried the winner's trophy off the beach twice. He's never finished below the Quarterfinals, which is why his FPA stat is a full 23 points higher than those of Kelly Slater and John John Florence, who are a distant No. 2 and No. 3 in that category.
A closer look at Medina's past Quiksilver Pro Campaigns:
2015- Finals (beat Bede Durbidge 17.50-9.44)
2014- Quarterfinal (lost to Josh Kerr 12.83-8.90) 2013- Finals (lost to Mick Fanning 16.66-15.00) 2012- Quarterfinal (lost to Joel Parkinson 18.83-12.90) 2011- Finals (beat Julian Wilson 17.00-16.10)
Given what happened to him at Trestles, it's likely Medina will arrive more fired up than ever. As World No. 2, his Trestles trauma may have him seeing red (or possibly yellow) in France.
Medina is 4200 points behind John John Florence, who's no slouch in France either. He won the Quiksilver Pro in 2014, and he's right up there in all the key categories. In fact, his AHS is only four-tenths of a point below Gabe's. And while John's RA and HWP are a good chunk lower than Medina's, he's still in the Top 3, which means he's among Gabe's biggest threats.
Given the title race this year, it's certainly going to be interesting to see if the stats hold up. Get ready to hold on tight for this one.
The Quiksilver Pro France kicks off October 4th. Watch it live at worldsurfleague.com starting at 8:00 am CEST, or watch the webcast replay starting at !!:00 am PDT.