The 2016 Fiji Pro was one of the most entertaining displays of barrel riding we've seen on Tour, and a nostalgic run of Fiji perfection. The surf was absolutely pumping since the start, and it only got bigger and cleaner as the event went on. That year, the 11x World Champ, Kelly Slater faced off against the first Brazilian World Champ, Gabriel Medina for a Semifinal worth talking about.
During their bout, Slater took early control early, with perfect technique as he came out of a grinding tube after the spit, earning him an 6.50. Medina answered back with an 8.40 which was an absolute gem where he combined two barrels with some fully buried rail turns. After he eliminated the GOAT, Medina crushed Matt Wilkinson in the Final and jump started his quest for the top of the rankings where he ended the 2016 season in 3rd place. This was the only contest Medina won in 2016.
The Slater v. Medina rivalry runs deep, and they've matched up several times in the past; however, Slater has only taken down Medina twice, whereas Medina has five heat wins over the GOAT. Kelly is all time leader in Championship Tour wins. While Medina has earned more Championship Tour victories than any other competitor since 2015, and he dominates his closest rivals in head-to-head battles, which is why he remains a perennial World Title contender. It's also worth noting that Medina also won both CT events at the Surf Ranch, Kelly Slater's famous creation.
Tune into Worldsurfleague.com on Wednesday, Nov 11 for this week's episode of WSL Rewind.