South Africa’s Jordy Smith moved to the top of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) rankings after posting a career-best third place finish in the Billabong Pro Tahiti on Sunday.

The 28-year-old Durbanite, who started the event ranked No. 3, recorded hard-fought victories over Conner Coffin (USA) and reigning WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) on the final day before losing out to eventual winner, Julian Wilson (AUS) in their semifinal encounter.

“I am still learning a lot and I wish I had figured it out earlier in the event,” Smith said. “I am stoked to be in the top spot. Obviously, it is a long way to go, but it is sick to be in the front there. This is a new year and I just want to bring something new, something fresh, and keep trying my hardest.”

Smith will be eager to keep his lead over the world’s best surfers and improve his World Title campaign at the next event, the Hurley Pro at Trestles, which is close to his adopted home town of San Clemente in California and where he is also the defending event winner,

The Billabong Pro Tahiti was won by Julian Wilson (AUS) who defeated Gabriel Medina (BRA) in the final held in 1.5 to 2 metre waves at the fabled break of Teahupo’o to clinch his third CT victory and best result in Tahiti. The victory moves Wilson up from 8th to 5th place on the Jeep Leaderboard heading into Trestles.

“It has been a few years,” said Wilson. “It is so special to win. I am ecstatic and I have nothing left in me. I am just so happy and relieved to finally win an event again. It took so many good waves to win this event and I was lucky enough to get those. I was already enjoying myself on tour and even more so now. I cannot wait for the rest of the year.”

The exciting final saw an all-out battle between Medina and Wilson. The Brazilian took the lead with an incredible 17.87 combined score including a near-perfect 9.20 and an excellent 8.67. Wilson was stuck in a combination situation and needed two new scores with time running out but he fought back with a critical 8.10 and an outstanding 9.23. Still trailing by 1.09 points, Wilson found his way out of a deep tube to earn a near-perfect 9.73 for the win in the dying minutes of the clash.

The runner-up finish for Medina is his best result this season. The 2014 WSL Champion and event winner has struggled to excel past the Semifinals in 2017, but his final appearance today proves that Medina is back in the game heading into the second-half of the season. The Brazilian superstar improved two places to 7th on the Jeep Leaderboard.

“I am stoked to make another final against Julian (Wilson),” said Medina. “He has been surfing really well the whole event and I think it is a little harder on your backhand, so good job to him. I am stoked. It feels good to be back in the game and now I am thinking about Trestles.”

The next stop on the 2017 World Surf League Championship Tour will be the Hurley Pro and Swatch Women’s Pro which run from September 6 through 17, 2017, at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, California.

Highlights from the Billabong Pro Tahiti can be found at WorldSurfLeague.com.

Billabong Pro Tahiti Final Results:

1 - Julian Wilson (AUS) 18.96
2 - Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.87

Billabong Pro Tahiti Semifinal Results:

SF 1:Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.16 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.90
SF 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.26 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 7.33

Billabong Pro Tahiti Quarterfinal Results:

QF 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 18.23 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 13.94
QF 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.33 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 7.67
QF 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.50 def. John John Florence (HAW) 13.10
QF 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.16 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 9.00

Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 5 Results:

Heat 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.37 def. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 11.66
Heat 2: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 15.50 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.00
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.93 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 11.40
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.24 def Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.60

Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 4 Results:

Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.50, Connor O’Leary (AUS 13.40), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 13.40
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.37, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.50, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 6.00
Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW) 15.76, Conner Coffin (USA) 7.90, Julian Wilson (AUS) 4.00
Heat 4: Joan Duru (FRA) 12.33, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.43, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 8.40

2017 WSL Men’s Jeep Leaderboard (After Billabong Pro Tahiti):

1 - Jordy Smith (ZAF) 37,850 pts
2 - John John Florence (HAW) 36,900 pts
3 - Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 35,950 pts
4 - Owen Wright (AUS) 35,350 pts
5 - Julian Wilson (AUS) 33,200 pts

Jordy Smith (Durban) on his way to 3rd place in the Billabong Pro Tahiti and the No. 1 spot on the Jeep Leaderboard • Photo: WSL / Cestari

 

About the World Surf League 
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world's best surfing since 1976, running in excess of 180 global events across the Men's and Women's Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport's rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels, and in doing so crowns the undisputed world champions in Men’s, Women’s across all divisions within the tour.

Showcasing the world's best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Tyler Wright, John John Florence, Paige Alms, Grant Baker, Phil Rajzman, Tory Gilkerson, Mick Fanning, Stephanie Gilmore, Kelly Slater, Carissa Moore, Gabriel Medina, Courtney Conlogue and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

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