In front of over twenty thousand people that came to watch the final day of the O’Neill SP Prime presented Guarana Antartica, Filipe Toledo (BRA) took top honors over Matt Banting (AUS) by a score of 19.04 to 15.40 at Praia de Maresias, Brazil. With his victory, Toledo won U$40,000 in prize money and 6,500 points, which places him atop the ASP Qualification Series (QS) rankings.
Throughout the contest, no one was able to surpass Toledo, who repeatedly took to the air to receive the three highest scores of the event, including a perfect 10-point ride. In addition, Toledo also earned the highest heat total of the competition with a 19.63 to the delight of the crowd.
“I’m so stoked and so happy with the size of the crowd here. They’ve been coming out all week long and I could feel their support from the water,” stated Toledo. “I’m so thankful for everything that’s happened this week. I surfed well in all of my heats, I got high scores and having my family here with me has been extra special. Winning the Prime event in California was amazing, but this was one of the best contests I’ve ever surfed in. I saw that the judges were giving good scores for airs, so I tried to throw some during each heat. Since I’m already qualified for the WCT (World Championship Tour) next year, I’ll be going to Hawaii much more relaxed and hope to keep this rhythm up for the events there as well. Thank you to everyone and to Brazil.”
Despite his runner-up finish, Banting was pleased with his result and looks forward to the year-end events in Hawaii before beginning his rookie year on the 2015 World Championship Tour. Banting earned U$20,000 and 5,200 points to solidify the No. 2 position on the QS rankings.
“It’s very difficult to face Filipe (Toledo) in these kinds of conditions,” commented Banting. “He’d paddle into whatever wave that came along, boost an air and then get a 9-plus score. It was great to make the Final here. It’s the first time I’ve gotten this far in a Prime event and I’m happy with 2nd place. It’s still a great result with all of the big names that competed in the event. The waves weren’t that good for turns today (Saturday), but they were ideal for airs. And no one was surfing better than Filipe. Every time he landed an air, the crowd would go crazy. It was incredible seeing so many people cheering on the beach. Now I’m off to Hawaii and will begin preparation for the WCT next year.”
Italo Ferreira (BRA) was another standout surfer of the event. The youngster took down elite athletes like Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Julian Wilson (AUS) before succumbing to Banting. By reaching the Semifinals, Ferreira earned 4,225 points at the O’Neill SP Prime and has reached the No. 5 position on the QS ranking, cementing his spot on the WCT next year.
“I wasn’t able to find the right waves in the Semis, but I’m still excited that I reached my goal of guaranteeing my place on the WCT before the final events in Hawaii,” announced Ferreira. “I stuck to the lefts, while Matt (Banting) stayed on the rights. His waves opened up more and he was able to get a lot of turns in. When I decided to switch tactics, it was too late. But I’m still content with 3rd place because it’s my best result of the year.”
Carlos Munoz (CRI) had been gaining momentum throughout competition at the O’Neill SP Prime before being defeated by Toledo in Heat 2 of the Semifinals. With his result today, Munoz is now 20th on the QS standings and depending on his results in Hawaii, has a legitimate opportunity of getting onto the WCT in 2015.
“I’m very happy with my performance here,” exclaimed Munoz. “I think I surfed well during all of the different conditions this week, and there wasn’t anything I could really do against Filipe (Toledo). He got all the good waves in our heat and put on a show. I know that my chances of getting into the WCT have improved and now I’m heading to Hawaii with more confidence and I’m looking for good results to reach the top-10 on the QS.”
After conclusion of the O’Neill SP Prime, the newest members to enter the list of top-ten surfers on the ASP QS rankings are Jack Freestone (AUS) and Joan Duru (FRA). The final rankings will be determined after completion of the two Prime events in Hawaii held at Haleiwa and Sunset.
For news, photos and video highlights of the O’Neill SP Prime, go to: www.oneillspprime.com