Julian Wilson (AUS) has won the Billabong Pipe Masters and Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Photo by ASP / Laurent Masurel.

The world of professional surfing has come to a close for 2014 with some of the best waves and competition in surfing history. Young guns such as Julian Wilson and Gabriel Medina are stepping-up, replacing surf pros like Mick Fanning and 11 time Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Champ Kelly Slater, and making way for a new crop of young guns.

In addition, the Association of Surfing Professionals will change its name to the World Surf League (WSL) starting in 2015.

Here’s more from the last week of surfing:

Julian Wilson Wins Billabong Pipe Masters and Vans Triple Crown of Surfing
Australian Julian Wilson has won both the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons, and the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing after defeating World Champion elect Gabriel Medina (BRA) in the closest Pipe Final on record. The victory marks his only win of the 2014 Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) and his second CT win of his career. He pocketed $100,000 for the event win and a bonus $50,000 for the Triple Crown series.

Julian Wilson (AUS) defeated newly crowned ASP World Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) in the Final of the Billabong Pipe Masters. Photo by ASP / Laurent Masurel.

The result is Wilson’s best of the season, bettering his third place finish at Bells Beach, and sees him end the year with a ranking of 14th on the WCT, marking him as a solid starter for 2015. It was a life-affirming moment for the 26-year-old who built momentum in the barreling 8-foot waves and overcame Medina’s inspired, pressure-free performance in the Final.

“It was an incredible day and I’m honestly speechless,” said Wilson. “Words can’t describe, I don’t even know how to feel yet. To win the Pipe Masters in good waves and having been out in the water for three heats in a row is amazing. I just found a groove and me and Gabriel got to duel it out — that’s what it’s all about.

“Congrats to Gabriel on his World Title. To win this with Andy’s name on it, is the most special day in my life. I can’t really say anything else. I want to thank everybody, my family who’s back home, my beautiful girlfriend, I wish you guys were here but I really didn’t really expect this to happen.”

Gabriel Medina (BRA) celebrates becoming the first Brazilian in history to win the World Title. Photo by ASP / Laurent Masurel.

Gabriel Medina Wins First World Surf Title for Brazil
It was easily the most dramatic day in the 44-year storied history of the Pipe Masters; 20-year-old Medina winning the first ASP men’s world surfing title for Brazil, pulling out the impossible along the way to reach the final, and posting the only perfect 10 of the event. A dynamic crowd that included thousands of flag-waving Brazilian fans chanted a patriotic national song and shared the emotion of every round with Medina’s victorious entourage. Medina surfed a total of five 30-minute heats today, while Wilson surfed six during the eight hour day.

“Winning the World Title was my dream and now it’s reality – I’m seriously shocked,” Medina said. “Brazil is partying right now I think. I’m thankful to be part of this, a lot of guys are trying to do this and I feel honored to be the one. I don’t know why it’s me but I’m really happy it is and I’m so proud to be Brazilian.

“This year has been great. I never imagined that I would win Snapper, Fiji and Teahupoo. I really wanted to win Pipe but Julian (Wilson) took me down, but I’m so happy right now. I’m so honored to have be in this battle against Mick (Fanning) and Kelly (Slater). I’ve always looked up to them and they’ve inspired me since I was a little grom.  I can’t believe I just beat them, it’s the best day of my life.”

It all came down to pure, deep, committed tube riding. The pair of goofy-footers opened the Final going different directions on the same wave for tube rides and ended it with a brilliant exchange. Final scorelines showed 19.63 (9.93 and 9.70) for Wilson, to Medina’s 19.20 (10, 9.20).

Alejo Muniz (BRA) played a pivotal role in Medina’s World Title, eliminating both rival contenders Mick Fanning (AUS) and Kelly Slater (USA) from the competition. Fanning exited the competition in Round 5 while Slater was eliminated in Round 3. Muniz was eventually defeated in the Quarterfinals by Adrian Buchan (AUS), who took equal third place alongside compatriot Josh Kerr.

“It’s amazing you know, Gabriel’s championship, his happiness, it means a lot to everyone,” said Muniz. “You can hear the crowd. It’s a special day for me too. To surf against Kelly and Mick and make those heats was incredible. I’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. All I wanted to do was help Gabriel as much as I could and I’m just so happy to be apart of it.”

Fanning’s Round 5 loss ended his hopes of claiming a fourth World Title and sees him take home a 9th place finish and end the year in second place on the WCT rankings.

Although Medina’s Round 3 win over lethal wildcard Dusty Payne (HAW) saw Slater out of the title race, the 7-time Pipe Master was still in contention for the event, until a last-minute 9.50 from Muniz saw him steal the win from the 11-time ASP World Champion.

“Mick (Fanning) is probably one of the greatest ever competitors,” said Slater. “Gabriel (Medina) is starting to be. I probably made two mistakes in that heat and it cost me because they’re weren’t a lot of opportunities.”

Gabriel Medina (BRA) is the 2014 ASP World Champion. Photo by ASP / Kirstin Scholtz.

Medina commenced his historic 2014 season run with an impressive win on Australia’s Gold Coast before posting respectable results in Margaret River and at Bells Beach. Despite a slight stumble at home with a 13th in Rio, Medina rebounding with an emphatic win in Fiji. Medina’s South Pacific form was not limited to Fiji, as the young Brazilian scored a sensational win in deadly conditions at Tahiti’s Teahupo’o over rival Kelly Slater (USA).

“Teahupo’o could have been a turning point,” Medina said. “We had serious waves and to beat Kelly (Slater) there in the Final, it made me believe that this could be my year.”

Heading into the European leg, the surfing world assumed that Medina would lock up the title before the Hawaiian season, but competitive stumbles in France and Portugal were capitalized on by opponents Mick Fanning (AUS) and Slater, sending the title race to Pipeline.

Posting a solid win over lethal wildcard Dusty Payne (HAW) in Round 3 of the Billabong Pipe Masters this morning, Medina successfully eliminated Slater from title contention. Fanning’s elimination in Round 5 by compatriot Alejo Muniz (BRA) sealed Medina’s fate and the capacity crowd at the beach erupted for the young Brazilian.

“It feels so amazing to win and I don’t know what to say right now,” said Medina. “I have great support there. Alejo (Muniz) just helped me win. I just love the crowd, I love this sport, everything has paid off right. I can’t wait to see the trophy.”

“I always look up to Kelly (Slater) and Mick (Fanning),” Medina said. “Kelly won his first world title when I was born maybe, I don’t know. Mick is an inspiration for me, I always look up to him. How he his, so focused, just how he his. Kelly is a great guy as well. I don’t know man, I don’t know what to say, it’s my best day ever!”

Today’s title clinching places Medina in the rarefied atmosphere of not only becoming the first Brazilian to claim the world surfing crown, but also the first 20-year-old to do so since Slater in 1992.

“I trained hard and did everything that I could to get here,” Medina said. “I worked all year to try to improve and I reached my goal. I’m stoked, I just love everything! I still can’t believe it, I think you guys are lying! Maybe tomorrow it will seem more real but right now I can’t event think about it.”

“I want to thank everyone so much for their support,” said Medina. “This is a really special day, not just for me but for my family, the fans and the sport. The crowd and the fans make this all so special, so thank you.”

Australian Matt Banting leads the WSL rookie class in 2015. Photo by ASP / Ed Sloan.

ASP Become WSL for 2015, Names Competitors for New Season
The 2014 Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour season has come to a close, with Brazilian phenom Gabriel Media clinching his inaugural men’s title and Australian sensation Stephanie Gilmore claiming a sixth women’s title.

The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) will become the World Surf League (WSL) in 2015, delivering the athleticism, adventure and competitive drama of the world’s best surfers in the world’s best waves from around the globe.

The 2015 elite men’s Championship Tour (CT) will be contested by the WSL Top 34, made up of the top 22 finishers on 2014 CT season, the top 10 finishers on the 2014 Qualifying Series (QS) and two WSL wildcards.

2014 Top 22 CT:
1.    Gabriel Medina (BRA)
2.    Mick Fanning (AUS)
3.    John John Florence (HAW)
4.    Kelly Slater (USA)
5.    Michel Bourez (PYF)
6.    Joel Parkinson (AUS)
7.    Jordy Smith (ZAF)
8.    Adriano de Souza (BRA)
9.    Taj Burrow (AUS)
10.    Josh Kerr (AUS)
11.    Kolohe Andino (USA)
12.    Owen Wright (AUS)
13.    Nat Young (USA)
14.    Julian Wilson (AUS)
15.    Adrian Buchan (AUS)
16.    Bede Durbidge (AUS)
17.    Filipe Toledo (BRA)
18.    Kai Otton (AUS)
19.    Miguel Pupo (BRA)
20.    Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
21.    Freddy Patacchia Jr. (HAW)
22.    Jadson Andre (BRA)

2014 Top 10 QS (minus double qualifiers from CT):
•    Matt Banting (AUS)
•    Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)
•    Adam Melling (AUS)
•    Italo Ferreira (BRA)
•    Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
•    Keanu Asing (HAW)
•    Dusty Payne (HAW)
•    Jeremy Flores (FRA)
•    Brett Simpson (USA)
•    Ricardo Christie (NZL)

WSL Wildcards: C.J. Hobgood (USA) and Glenn Hall (IRL)

The 2015 elite women’s Championship Tour (CT) will be contested by the WSL Top 17, comprised of the top 10 finishers on the 2014 CT, the top six finishers on the 2014 QS and the WSL wildcard.

2014 Top 10 CT:
1.    Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
2.    Tyler Wright (AUS)
3.    Carissa Moore (HAW)
4.    Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
5.    Malia Manuel (HAW)
6.    Lakey Peterson (AUS)
7.    Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)
8.    Johanne Defay (FRA)
9.    Courtney Conlogue (USA)
10.    Laura Enever (AUS)

2014 Top 6 QS (minus double qualifiers from CT):
•    Silvana Lima (BRA)
•    Coco Ho (HAW)
•    Sage Erickson (USA)
•    Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)
•    Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)
•    Alessa Quizon (HAW)

WSL Wildcard: Dimity Stoyle

And that’s a wrap from Label Networks for 2014! See you all in 2015!

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