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The Official Start of Winter Arrives With a Bang

Today marked the solstice—the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere—and we certainly had a lot of winter activity to celebrate. The biggest swell of the year steamrolled through the Pacific, bringing large swell to Hawaii before blasting the West Coast with back-to-back XXL pulses.

The action started on the North Shore, where the Pipe Masters, Triple Crown, and world title were all decided on Monday. Joel Parkinson retired, Jesse Mendes just barely squeaked by Parko for the Triple Crown title, and Kelly Slater made the semis at Pipe after making one of the most amazing wipeout to in the barrel recoveries we’ve ever seen. But the real story was the Julian Wilson and Gabriel Medina battle. Wilson had to make the finals to have a chance at the title, and managed to do that—but unfortunately for him, Medina also made the finals, where he absolutely dominated (as he had throughout the event).

Medina ended up winning the Pipe Masters after clinching his second world title in the semis, and with the qualifying season wrapping up the week before, it’s now official—Brazil is dominating men’s competitive surfing. Four of the past six world titles have been won by Brazilians (John John Florence being the only non-Brazilian to win since 2012). Out of the 11 events held on tour this year, the only non-Brazilian to win a contest was Julian Wilson. And next year’s roster on the world tour is nearly half Brazilian. People have been talking about the Brazilian Storm for a few years now, and it’s starting to look like they weren’t kidding.

At the same time that Medina and Wilson were duking it out at Pipe for the title, Maverick’s in Central California was being hit by one of the biggest swells we’ve seen in the past decade. The day started out wild and rugged, with waves up to 60 feet on the face detonating on the big wave slab in Half Moon Bay. The day started as a tow session, but soon the paddle guns came out, and by evening many of the world’s gnarliest charges had wrangled a few beasts.

The swell made its way down to Baja on Tuesday, where a core crew of underground chargers