BARRA DA TIJUCA, Rio de Janeiro/Brazil (Saturday, May 14, 2016) – The Oi Rio Pro continued to witness outstanding performances with the completion of men’s Round 2 and the opening two heats of women’s Round 4. The fourth stop on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour, the Oi Rio Pro, saw the world’s best compete to avoid elimination from the event in solid 4 to 6 foot (1 - 2 metre) waves at Postinho.
Event wildcard Deivid Silva (BRA) upset the competition as he eliminated Matt Wilkinson (AUS), current World No. 1 on the Jeep Leaderboard, in Round 2 Heat 2. Wilkinson opened up with a solid 7.67 to take an early lead and improved it with a 6.83. Silva relentlessly chipped away at Wilkinson’s scores with his crisp backhand snaps, but it was his alley-oop air rotation that jump started his comeback attack. Silva need an 8.07 to take the lead. In the dying seconds of the heat, Silva completed another air-rotation, hitting the critical section followed by clean carves. Silva’s ride was awarded an 8.30, to give Silva the 14.73 heat score over Wilkinson’s 14.50. Wilkinson will walk away with a 25th place finish.
“I am very very happy to get this far,” Silva said. “The surfing in the match was so good. It is the people here in Brazil that make the win that much better. Thank you WSL for giving me the wildcard in this event. I am stoked.”
“That was a tough one to swallow,” said Wilkinson. “I felt like I surfed a smart heat and I gave Silva two 4s that he turned into a 6 and an 8. I was right there on that last wave he took off on, and I had to make a decision. I was not going to use priority on a 4, just in case a good wave was behind it. The wave I took off on right before the hooter was a lot better than the one I gave away. That air he did was sick and if I made that decision ten times, it was probably the right decision eight times out of ten. It is a tough loss, but I am excited for Fiji and to get myself some barrels.”
Gabriel Medina (BRA), 2014 WSL Champion, showcased an incredible performance in Round 2 Heat 4 by landing the first-ever backflip rotation in competition to earn a perfect 10. Medina also landed a frontside air reverse for a 9.40 to post a near-perfect 19.40 heat score. Alex Ribeiro (BRA), 2016 WSL Rookie, took to the air to combat Medina but was not able to find big enough scores to defeat the CT heavyweight.
“I had to believe and I am feeling good,” Medina said. “It is good to be home after a long leg in Australia. I am stoked to make it through. I have been learning a lot, even when I am losing. Australia was pretty tough for me. Every event I am thinking positively. I know I need to take it one event at a time and if it did not come in Australia, then hopefully it will here, and if not here then the next one. Today I had a fun heat and tomorrow is another day.”
Adriano de Souza (BRA), reigning WSL Champion, flew through the opening heat of Round 2 against replacement surfer Bino Lopes (BRA). De Souza found two solid 6-point rides to give him a healthy lead over Lopes, who was left searching for a near-perfect 9.17. Lopes was not able to complete his air-rotation maneuvers to combat the defending World Champion and was eliminated from the competition.
“I am so glad to make this heat,” De Souza said. “Basically I am just doing my thing and my local knowledge helps here. For the last five years, I have been training here. I think I had an advantage from this perspective, but I am happy to continue in the event. I got to compete against my good friend Lucas Silveira, who beat me in Round 1, and I cannot wait for the next battle. It is a wonderful feeling to return to this country with the World Title.”
2016 WSL Rookies Jack Freestone (AUS), Caio Ibelli (BRA) and Kanoa Igarashi (USA) will all continue to Round 3 after eliminating Jeremy Flores (FRA), Jadson Andre (BRA) and Josh Kerr (AUS), respectively.
Following the completion of men’s Round 2, the women’s Round 4 completed the opening two heats before conditions deteriorated and event organizers called competition off for the day.
Malia Manuel (HAW) and 2016 WSL Rookie Keely Andrew (AUS) battled wave for wave in Round 4 Heat 1 for the opportunity to advance to the Quarterfinals. Manuel and Andrew posted over ten waves each to secure control of the heat and Manuel, with a 13.10 heat score, edged out Andrew by only 1.60 points. Manuel will face Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) in the Quarterfinals.
“I had two peaks that I was playing around with,” Manuel said. “The conditions slightly changed from this morning so I was surfing with an open mind. I knew with this wind coming up and the tide going out that I did not have high expectations and it would be a battle of 6 point rides. Luckily, I had a good backup score. I was trying to hunt for waves and get into that beach break rhythm.”
Round 4 Heat 2 saw a close match-up between Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), 2015 WSL Rookie of the Year, and Sage Erickson (USA). Erickson was off to a quick start to secure the lead with a solid 6.17, but Weston-Webb fought back with a 7.67. The Hawaiian locked up a second 5.57 to earn a 13.24 heat score, leaving Erickson only 0.24 points behind. With the time winding down, Erickson was not able to find the second score to eliminate Weston-Webb who will advance to the Quarterfinals where she will face current Jeep Rankings’ Leader Courtney Conlogue (USA).
“It was definitely a really tough heat against Sage,” Weston-Webb said. “I felt like she kept lucking out with all the good waves. Until that last one I was definitely stressing out. When it came through, I knew I had to give it my all. I’m stoked to have made that one because Sage has been surfing incredible. The fans here are just insane!”
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow at 6:30am local time for a possible 7am start.
Highlights from the Oi Rio Pro will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com.
High Res Images from this event available for editorial use via Reuters.
For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com.
Oi Rio Pro Men’s Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.00 def. Bino Lopes (BRA) 4.96
Heat 2: Deivid Silva (BRA) 14.73 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.50
Heat 3: Dusty Payne (HAW) 13.93 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.34
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 19.40 def. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 7.90
Heat 5: Jack Freestone (AUS) 14.57 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.77
Heat 6: Matt Banting (AUS) 14.76 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.66
Heat 7: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.33 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 11.86
Heat 8: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.73 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.27
Heat 9: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.30 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.73
Heat 10: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 14.17 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 11.44
Heat 11: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 15.33 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.27
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.50 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 11.74
Oi Rio Pro Men’s Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 3: Nat Young (USA) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 4: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 5: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) vs. Davey Cathels (AUS)
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Lucas Silveira (BRA)
Heat 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Marco Fernandez (BRA)
Heat 8: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 9: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 10: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Jack Freestone (HAW)
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 12: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)