The opening day of the Oi Rio Pro, Stop No. 4 on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), tested the elite field with challenging three-to-four (1 – 1.2) foot conditions at Itaúna Beach in Saquarema. Despite a seven-hour hold after running the first three heats of women’s event, the tide improved the conditions enough to complete Round 1.
Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) had the support of the crowd throughout the final heat of the day as she represented Brazil for the first time in her career. The 22-year-old posted a strong 5.83 (out of a possible 10) and a 7.33 to take the heat win from Keely Andrew (AUS) and Johanne Defay (FRA). Weston-Webb will march through to Round 3, while Andrew and Defay are relegated to elimination Round 2.
“I got really lucky with Keely’s (Andrew) and Johanne’s (Defay) positioning,” said Weston-Webb. “I think they messed up a few times and sat too far in for the wave I got wide, which was my best wave of the heat. There is so much support here. Now that I have the Brazilian flag on my jersey, it is even more. I am proud to be a part of it.”
Fellow Brazilian Silvana Lima was unable to overcome three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW), who locked in the highest two-wave total of the day, a 13.67, which was also made up of the highest single-wave score of the day, a solid 7.67. Paige Hareb (NZL) came close to taking the win but fell just 1.7 points short on her last attempt.
Tyler Wright (AUS) is off to a promising start for her third-straight event victory after defeating 2017 Rookie of the Year Bronte Macaulay (AUS) and 2018 CT Rookie Caroline Marks (USA) in Round 1. The two-time WSL Champion wanted to lock in strong scores in her opening matchup but, with limited opportunities on offer, was forced to settle for the win with only a 3.93 score (out of a possible 10) and a 3.60.
“I thought there was actually going to be a couple more waves than that,” said Wright. “The plan was to try and start off really well with positioning and lineups. That kind of played into my favor towards the end. I really didn’t think I would count the 3s, but with the tide and the conditions that was okay. I am happy to move through a tricky heat. The next round should be interesting depending on what the conditions do.”
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) opened the day ready to do battle against compatriot Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) and Coco Ho (HAW). The Australian superstar started the event with the leading score (a 5.83) to overtake her competitors and advance straight to Round 3.
“It was awesome to start the morning in heat one,” Fitzgibbons said. “We’ve got some good offshore conditions. It is a little slow but it definitely has got some scoring potential. Although it is low scores, it is still super exciting because you do not know what is going to happen next. Jumping into Round 3 is a huge advantage, and I’ll be prepared come Round 3.”
Six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) narrowly squeaked through her Round 1 heat with only a 0.2 lead over Malia Manuel (HAW). Needing a 6.20, Manuel could not find the waves to elevate her scoreline. Manuel and wildcard Taís Almeida (BRA) will surf again in elimination Round 2 against Andrew and Defay, respectively.
Lakey Peterson (USA) was also amongst the top six to advance directly into Round 3 after her win over compatriot Sage Erickson and France’s Pauline Ado in Heat 4.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. local time to assess the conditions and make the next call.
The Oi Rio Pro will be broadcast LIVE on the WSL’s Facebook page, WorldSurfLeague.com, and the WSL app. Also, check local listings for coverage from the WSL’s broadcast partners.
Surfline, forecast partner of the WSL, is calling for:
Small S swell leftovers are expected on Saturday. Sunday likely starts slow, but should come up through the afternoon as short period SSW swell builds. Fun size, short period S swell likely continues on Monday morning, with a good chance for larger, mid period SSW to S swell Monday afternoon and Tuesday. More SSW swell looks possible for the end of next week.
Oi Rio Women’s Pro Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 10.00, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 9.23, Coco Ho (HAW) 8.10
Heat 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 7.53, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 3.67, Caroline Marks (USA) 1.80
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 8.60, Malia Manuel (HAW) 8.40, Taís Almeida (BRA) 6.17
Heat 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) 11.60, Sage Erickson (USA) 6.17, Pauline Ado (FRA) 5.93
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.67, Paige Hareb (NZL) 11.97, Silvana Lima (BRA) 7.40
Heat 6: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 13.16, Keely Andrew (AUS) 7.30, Johanne Defay (FRA) 5.80
Oi Rio Women’s Pro Round 2 Matchups:
Heat 1: Sage Erickson (USA) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 2: Silvana Lima (BRA) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 3: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs.Taís Almeida (BRA)
Heat 4: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) vs. Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 5: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Paige Hareb (NZL)
Heat 6: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Keely Andrew (AUS)
Oi Rio Men’s Pro Round 1 Matchups:
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Tomas Hermes (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS), Wade Carmichael (AUS), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW), Joan Duru (FRA), Mikey Wright (AUS)
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Jesse Mendes (BRA), Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 6: Julian Wilson (AUS), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Connor O’Leary (AUS), Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Griffin Colapinto (USA), Michael February (ZAF)
Heat 9: Michel Bourez (PYF), Conner Coffin (USA), Yago Dora (BRA)
Heat 10: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 11: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Willian Cardoso (BRA)
Heat 12: Kolohe Andino (USA), Frederico Morais (PRT), Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.