The 2015 world title race is one of the tightest in a long time and that’s going to bode well for an awesome Pipe Masters. Below are our thoughts on the title race.
The frontrunner, but only by the slimmest of margins (200 points from Filipe & 450 points from Adriano), Mick is the man to beat. But I don’t think his first place ranking is even a factor. He looks unbelievably fit, at ease and supremely confident. There’s a strut in his step, which I guess anyone would have after surviving a shark attack, but I think it’s more founded on an incredibly successful career, several solid wins this season and opponents that, while exceptional, just don’t have his depth of competitive knowledge. Plus, he just won the Vans World Cup at Sunset, which is no small feat, given the local talent. I believe he’ll take the title if just for the momentum he has coming off his Sunset win.
No doubt that Toledo has dazzled the masses with a mind-blowing, albeit fairly repetitive, air game. But his embrace of his small wave reputation will do him no favors if Pipe shows up in all her glory. I believe he’ll surprise everyone like Medina did last year at Teahupoo, but it won’t be enough to win. Toledo will bow out around the 3rd round and fly home, licking his wounds, vowing to devote more time to waves of consequence. Small wave antics will never win a world title, because like the Trix rabbit told us, “Tricks are for Kids.”
Adriano De Souza
The workhorse that largely paved the way for the Brazilian Storm is finally in a position to take a title. He’s had a good a run this year, but four 13th place finishes injected some speed bumps in his 2015 campaign with the last one coming in Portugal. While he’s paid his dues with a great career, De Souza is a bit like the Phil Mickelson of the 90’s, always there on finals day, but never quite able to take the win. He’ll falter at Pipe too, but not without some big drops, scalps and passion to burn.
After an abysmal start to the 2015 season, the reigning world champ saved his year with a late season push with a 5th, 2nd, 3rd, 1st & 5th between J-Bay and Portugal. He must be slightly surprised that he’s even got a shot. But he does and it’s under the same scenario in which he secured his title last year. He’s the only one besides Fanning who’s been here before and that will help him take some big heat wins against a loaded line-up. Medina could very well be a 2x consecutive champ come finals day. My only recommendation is that he tempers his claims. They’re getting old and Pipe locals don’t really dig chest-pounding unless the ride really, really, really, really, really, really deserves it.
Wright has a chance of taking down the title as well, but a lot has to happen for him to hoist the hardware. Injuries have plagued his career and and they ended his campaign just the day before Pipe, when he suffered a severe concussion on a bomb... his title campaign is over, but he'll be back.. But make no mistake—Wright can surf with the best of them and he’ll nab a title one day. It just may not be this year. Let’s not forget though that he took a win this year at giant Cloudbreak (Fiji), which is a first cousin to Pipe.
Wildcard Number One: Bruce Irons
Irons secured one of the two wildcard spots and that spells doom for a lot of surfers in the heat draw. His performances at Pipe over the years have solidified his status as one of the greats, given his fearlessness and intuitive barrel riding. It’s no secret that a lot of guys on tour have had Bruce’s poster on their wall and he’ll beat a few before the heat even starts. The only thing I wonder is if he has the competitive fire to care enough to take the whole contest. He swore off WSL competition years ago and half-assed commitment doesn’t get you heat wins against the likes of Slater and Fanning.
Any wildcard in Hawaii is dangerous, but those at Pipe are lethal. The wildcards are the ones keeping the top guys up at night and it’ll be fun to see what damage they incur. Jamie O'Brien and Jack Freestone got the spots this year and it doesn't get more dangerous than those two.
Agree? Disagree? Think we’re geniuses? Let us know your thoughts on the title race. Love to hear ‘em. And if you’re right, we’ll give you a wave during the next solid swell.
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