Team Brazil Photo: Pablo Jimenez

Thousands of spectators lined the waterfront of Arecibo to watch Gabriel Medina(BRA) and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) claim victory in the 2024 ISA World Surfing Games (WSG). The four-to-six foot swell hitting the reef break of Rastrial provided the canvas for an incredibly exciting Finals Day that held team world championships, national Olympic slots and personal gold medals on the line.

Throughout a long week of varying conditions, nothing could hold back the unstoppable train of Gabriel Medina (BRA), the three-time WSL Champion and 2010 ISA U/18 World Junior Champion, who didn’t put a single foot wrong during the entire event, convincingly winning every single heat he entered. His victory, along with a silver medal from defending champion Tatiana Weston-Webb(BRA), helped to deliver a triple-coup for Brazil, as they took home the Team World Championship, along with both of the individual Olympic slots available for the highest ranked eligible teams, separated by gender. Brazil will now have the largest field of surfers in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, three men and three women.

Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) increased her own record as the winningest surfer in ISA history even further as she claimed an unprecedented fifth gold medal (4 ISA World Surfing Games and 1 ISA World Juniors). Maintaining herself in the Main Round through till Finals Day, the 33-year-old fell into repechage in the last step before the Grand Final, surfing three heats today, before peaking when it mattered most to further highlight her name in the history books and deliver Australia a team bronze medal in the process.

Gabriel Medina, Team Brazil  Photo: Jersson Barboza

Unstoppable Gabriel Medina (BRA) claims first World Surfing Games gold medal, wins Olympic slot for Brazil

With Yago Dora (BRA) losing out in the first heat of the day, Gabriel Medina (BRA) needed a very specific set of circumstances to go his way for Brazil to earn the Olympic slot. By the Final, it became even more definitive, he needed to win and he needed Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) to place second. Any other scenario and France would win the slot.

Incredible performances all week from French teammates Joan Duru (FRA) and Kauli Vaast (FRA) saw both surfers in the Final, making it an all-goofyfoot battle. Medina wasted no time in making a statement, opening on his forehand with a huge air reverse, polished with an end section hit for a 9.00 ride. Vaast stayed busy, though he could only find midrange scores. Meanwhile, Boukhiam brought his powerful forehand into play, posting an 8.17, backed by a 7.17 to take the lead by the half-way mark. At the five-minute mark, Medina had earned a narrow lead, but Vaast was increasingly finding larger scores, encroaching on Boukhiam in second. 

By the time the buzzer had sounded however, Medina had increased his total to win the gold medal.

Boukhiam remained in second, claiming the silver medal, Vaast was narrowly in third to take bronze, Duru in fourth with copper, and the perfect storm for Brazil was complete. Medina adds the World Surfing Games gold to the ISA World Juniors Gold he won in 2010 at 16.

“The way it went, I got really emotional,” Medina said. “Because in the middle of the heat I was like ok, maybe I need another score, because Ramzi got two bombs and I was waiting for a surprise, you know, a surprise by God, because I was thinking no way Kauli or Joan was not going to get second, but I was like whatever, I have the faith, God’s is guiding, so let’s go, let’s have fun. So I tried to have fun in the heat, don’t worry about the others. I knew my fight, there was nothing I could do other than surfing.”

Fourth World Surfing Games gold medal for Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) sees her in a league of her own

All four of the women’s finalists had the opportunity to win an Olympic slot for their nation, though their scenarios were far more complicated than the men’s. Defending champion, Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), two-time medalist, Johanne Defay(FRA), recently qualified Paris 2024 athlete Nadia Erostarbe (ESP) and the winningest surfer in ISA history, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), went all out, knowing what was at stake for themselves and their nation.

The most consistent performer of the week, Defay opened with a 6.00, holding an early advantage, but was soon eclipsed by a 6.77 from Weston-Webb for a strong two-turn combo on her backhand, before the dynamic surfing of Fitzgibbons earned her a 6.83. A second 6.00 from Defay kept her in the lead, with Fitzgibbons and Weston-Webb initially unable to back up their scores, but as the heat progressed, Fitzgibbons found a 6.27 to solidify the lead and claim her unprecedented fourth WSG gold medal.

“I am in disbelief,” Fitzgibbons, also the 2007 ISA U/18 World Junior gold medalist, said. “This wave profile has challenged me all week and I knew I had to just keep putting myself in the conversation and just try and navigate all those heats and get to that Final. I really tried to just relax into my surfing and look for some of those bigger sections because they’re the most fun, and flarey surfing is going to win that Final.”

With Erostarbe unable to find a notable score, the results of Weston-Webb and Defay would determine the winner of the women’s team rankings. If Defay placed first, France would take it, if Weston-Webb placed second or third, Brazil would take it. Fitzgibbons did everything in her power to earn the slot for her nation, but in the end it was out of her hands, as Weston-Webb earned the silver medal, delivering the slot to Brazil. Defay took the bronze medal, Erostarbe, copper. Weston-Webb was over the moon to complete the picture and deliver Brazil a full six Olympic slots.

“It was our goal coming here to get both of those spots and we got them,” Weston-Webb said. “The team was really focused all week and we always lift each other up, and that’s what Brazil is.”

Fitzgibbons’ effort to secure the additional slot for Australia, bringing them as close as conceivably possible, was both a bittersweet and proud moment.

“Within my story I’ve had many of these moments where there’s these near misses,” Fitzgibbons said. “I try to really just look at what is happening and for me to do everything I can. To win that gold medal for my country, that moment is now, and that’s all I could do in my control. I’ve learnt to roll with those and really see the beauty in them. There is disappointment there, but on the other side I just couldn’t be more stoked and that’s what I focus on.”

ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:

“What an incredible day, week and championship. We will never forget Puerto Rico, we will never forget this best World Surfing Games ever. We go home as ambassadors of Puerto Rico. Our hope is to be back. Congratulations to all the athletes, to all the delegations. We will see you in July in Teahupo’o for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”


Team Rankings

Gold – Brazil

Silver – France

Bronze – Australia

Copper – Spain


Gold – Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)

Silver – Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA)

Bronze – Johanne Defay (FRA)

Copper – Nadia Erostarbe (ESP)


Gold – Gabriel Medina (BRA)

Silver – Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR)

Bronze – Kauli Vaast (FRA)

Copper – Joan Duru (FRA)


2024 WSG

Women – Brazil

Men – Brazil

2022 WSG

Women – USA

Men – Japan



Anat Lelior (ISR)

Camilla Kemp (GER)

Janire Gonzalez-Extabarri (ESP)

Nadia Erostarbe (ESP)

Siqi Yang (CHN)

Sol Aguirre (PER)

Taina Hinckel (BRA)

Yolanda Sequeira (POR)


Alonso Correa (PER)

Andy Criere (ESP)

Joan Duru (FRA)

Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR)

Rio Waida (INA)

Tim Elter (GER)




Qualified via 2023 ISA WSG

Saffi Vette (NZL)

Sarah Baum (RSA)

Shino Matsuda (JPN)

Vahine Fierro (FRA)


Qualified via WSL Championship Tour

Brisa Hennessy (CRC)

Carissa Moore (USA)

Caroline Marks (USA)

Johanne Defay (FRA)

Molly Picklum (AUS)

Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA)

Teresa Bonvalot (POR)

Tyler Wright (AUS)


Qualified via 2023 ISA WSG

Alan Cleland Jr (MEX)

Billy Stairmand (NZL)

Kauli Vaast (FRA)

Reo Inaba (JPN)


Qualified via WSL Championship Tour

Ethan Ewing (AUS)

Filipe Toledo (BRA)

Griffin Colapinto (USA)

Jack Robinson (AUS)

João Chianca (BRA)

John John Florence (USA)

Jordy Smith (RSA)

Matthew McGillivray (RSA)

Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)

Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)