Barra da Tijuca today delivered clean four-to-six foot (1 - 1.5 metre) waves for the opening rounds of competition at the Oi Rio Pro.
The fourth stop on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour, the Oi Rio Pro is the sole Championship Tour event on South American soil and the rising power of Brazil dominated the day’s affairs.
Gabriel Medina (BRA), reigning WSL Champion, rebounded from an uncharacteristic early exit in Margaret River with a hard-fought Round 1 win this morning over Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) and Alejo Muniz (BRA). The young Brazilian drew a crowd of hundreds on the beach cheering for him as he advanced directly into Round 3.
“I’m feeling good to get that one,” said Medina. “The waves are kinda hard but I got that 7 and a 5 I think and the heat was pretty slow after that. Alejo (Muniz) and Freddy (Patacchia) couldn’t get another score so I was lucky to get through. I cope pretty well with pressure and it’s good to have people cheering for you. It’s a lot of people but I’m here at home so there’s no reason to feel pressure."
Following Medina’s heat, the crowd reached a fever pitch for current frontrunner on the Jeep Leaderboard Adriano de Souza (BRA). De Souza, a former event winner, exhibited an impressive command of the lineup netting a 17.90 out of a possible 20 to advance directly through to Round 3.
“There’s a lot of pressure for me right now so it’s difficult,” said De Souza. “I have to remember that the contest has just started and there’s a lot of people that have come out to watch. My strategy out there was to win my first Round 1 heat of the year and I can’t pick a better spot than here to do this. I'm really proud of myself for making my first heat and I want to keep the momentum alive going into the next Round. The Margaret River contest was so special for me, I really wanted to win an event this year and I did.”
The “Brazilian Storm” had a sensational outing in Round 1 with Filipe Toledo (BRA), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Italo Ferreira (BRA) and Jadson Andre (BRA) all winning through their opening heats to advance directly to Round 3.
Kelly Slater (USA), 11-time World Champion and current WSL No. 9, was in unparalleled rhythm in the shifting beachbreaks, threading barrels on both his forehand and backhand to collect the day’s high heat total of a 19.27 out of a possible 20.
“It was a good start and it was a lot of fun,” Slater said. “I feel good, the waves are super fun and I watched for about an hour this morning from my hotel to try and line up where I’d sit. I felt really calm out there and in waves like that you just trust your instincts.”
The round was punctuated by impressive showings from Australians Bede Durbidge (AUS) and Matt Wilkinson (AUS), both taking heat wins to advance directly into Round 3.
Oi Rio Men’s Pro Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.17, Brett Simpson (USA) 12.07, Taj Burrow (AUS) 6.30
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.27, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.06, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 11.76
Heat 3: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 15.97, John John Florence (HAW) 10.66, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 9.94
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.33, Freddy Patacchia Jr. (HAW) 7.77, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 4.90
Heat 5: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.07, Mick Fanning (AUS) 9.33, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 2.47
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.90, Kai Otton (AUS) 11.60, David do Carmo (BRA) 5.67
Heat 7: Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.04, Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.97, Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.03
Heat 8: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.06, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.67, Keanu Asing (HAW) 10.60
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.84, Glenn Hall (IRL) 11.94, Nat Young (USA) 6.17
Heat 10: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.27, Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.93, Adam Melling (AUS) 8.40
Heat 11: Matt Banting (AUS) 9.76, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 9.26, Julian Wilson (AUS) 9.10
Heat 12: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.96, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.47, Owen Wright (AUS) 10.34
Oi Rio Men’s Pro Round 2 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. David do Carmo (BRA)
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 6: Nat Young (USA) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 7: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 9: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 10: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 12: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)