Rip Curl team riders Tyler Wright and Gabriel Medina cemented their status as two of the planet’s most exciting young surfers with victories in the International Surfing Association (ISA) Under 18 World Championships in Piha, New Zealand today.
In winning today, Wright, a 15-year-old from the northern NSW town of Lennox Head, bettered 3-time world professional champion Stephanie Gilmore’s results in the junior ranks.
Wright’s triumph today comes on the back of her win in the same event last year in Ecuador, and a runner-up finish as a 13-year-old in 2008. (Gilmore was 4th as a 15-year-old, then won consecutive ISA World Under 18 titles as a 16 and 17-year-old, and has since gone on to win three consecutive ASP World Titles before the age of 22.)
“I feel on top of the world,” Wright said. “It’s two years in a row for me in one of the highest level of competitions there is. It was a tough final, so I’m just really happy with the result. It felt unreal to be chaired by my team once I got to the beach. I feel privileged.”
Wright is already the owner of the record as the youngest ever winner – male or female – of an open age professional competition, after her victory in the 2008 Beachley Classic World Tour. Coupled with the last 2 Australian Under 18 Championships, plus runner-up finishes in the 2008 and 2009 ASP Australasian Junior Series, the teenager’s trophy cabinet is already bulging.
Back in New Zealand, Brazilian 16-year-old Gabriel Medina produced an absolutely stunning performance in claiming the Boys Under 18 Title, scoring an incredible 19.90 points out of a possible 20 for his best two rides, one of which was awarded a perfect 10. His three opponents in today’s final were all left in the South American’s wake, none being able to match even Medina’s third and fourth best rides – a 9.4 out of 10 and an 8.5.
A very limited English speaker, Medina said: “I’m feeling so good, I’m so happy. The waves were so good for airs. I just love New Zealand.”
Medina’s meteoric rise began this time last year with a 2nd place finish in the Under 16 Boys division of the ISA World Junior Championships in Ecuador.
Two months later, he became the youngest male champion of an open age pro competition with a win in the ASP 6-star World Qualifying Series Maresia Pro at Praia Mole in Brazil.
Then in October at Hossegor in France, the quietly spoken teen took out the Quiksilver King Of The Groms, scoring two perfect 10s in the final. Finally, just two weeks ago, he was a semi-finalist in the ASP World Pro Junior Championships in Sydney.
Hawaii team rider Koa Smith almost made it a Rip Curl clean sweep of the ISA Titles earlier today, when he placed third in the final of the Under 16 Boys division, behind Australian Matt Banting and the USA’s Jake Halstead.