Saving the best for last, carrying a near-perfect final heat score of 19.37, Julian Wilson has won the Quiksilver Pro Portugal at Ribeira D'Ilhas. Facing Brazil's Gabriel Medina, who's been one of the most lethal competitors on the ASP Prime series as of late, Wilson tallied a 9.80 and a 9.57 to cruise to his biggest result since qualifying for the ASP World Tour -- a result that will assuredly keep him on tour for the second half of the year as the mid-year cutoff looms.
"I am so happy. To put in the hard yards for this one has been unreal," said Wilson. "I have had a mediocre start to my year and I have been working so hard to make some heats. I came off four weeks in Brazil without a strong result and I went home to reassess and do a bit of training and got really motivated. I flew over here by myself with just the goal of winning and stayed focused so it worked out."
And thanks to his second final in as many events, joining Wilson on tour post-cutoff may be Brazil's Gabriel Medina. And while he couldn't put it together in the final -- or maybe it's just that Wilson exploded so dramatically he wasn't sure how to respond -- throughout the last two events Medina has established himself as a force. In this event alone he's had to get past vets like Cory Lopez and Jeremy Flores, which is demonstrative of his poise under pressure. And in the quarters today he posted a 9.87, the highest single wave score of the event.
"I could not find a good one in the final, but I am happy with this result. Julian got two 9's in the final and he surfed really well, so congratulations to him. Now I head to my next event in a couple of weeks in Ballito, South Africa and I hope I can do well there like I have done here," said Medina
And proving that the future is always close at hand, both Miguel Pupo and John Florence made the semifinals, outlasting Flores and Pat Gudauskas. Pupo's looking like another qualifier come cutoff time, while Florence will moves up from his current standing of 79th.
"I was hoping just to make a heat," said Florence. "I haven't made a heat in the last couple of contests so I am stoked to make it this far. Definitely a lot more confidence after this contest and it would have been good to make the final, but the semis is cool. It is a fun wave and stoked to be here in Portugal. Gabriel is so amazing. He is such a good surfer and is a contest machine because he is in such good form and doing the same as he did last week in Brazil."
Up next our attention will turn back to the ASP World Tour as the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay is coming up quickly on the calendar. Not sure anybody's still paying attention after a two-month hiatus, but we do have an intriguing world title race setting up and it'll be nice to shift focus to that.
Quiksilver Pro Portugal Final
Julian Wilson (AUS) 19.37 Def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.83
Quiksilver Pro Portugal Semi-final Results
Heat 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.00 Def. John John Florence (HAW) 13.67
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 17.04 Def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.37
Quiksilver Pro Portugal Quarterfinal Results
Heat 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 18.37 Def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.33
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 18.03 Def. Pat Gudauskas (USA) 12.43
Heat 3: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.84 Def. Dion Atkinson (AUS) 10.17
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.26 Def. Jay Quinn (NZL) 9.40