Stop No. 4 on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Oi Rio Pro, continued today with the completion of women’s Round 2 in three-to-four foot (1 – 1.2 metre) waves in Saquarema.
The first elimination rounds of the event put early pressure on the twelve competitors, who were relegated to the tense matchups after losing in Round 1. The Round 2 heats witnessed domination of the top seeds, with the exception of Keely Andrew’s (AUS) staggering win in the final seconds of Heat 6 to eliminate Malia Manuel (HAW).
Brazilian hero Silvana Lima did not disappoint her fans with her win over 2017 Rookie of the Year Bronte Macaulay (AUS) in the second heat of Round 2. Lima, 33, stayed busy to deliver a 5.67 (out of a possible 10) and a 6.50 over Macaulay’s 4-point rides. Lima’s hunt for her first-ever CT win in Brazil will continue through to the next round.
“I spent some time watching the waves before my heat, and I knew it was going to be difficult,” said Lima. “The lefts were breaking against the current and you’d end up losing speed on them, so I decided to focus on the rights. But, I also knew that Bronte’s (Macaulay) strongpoint is her backside surfing, so I stayed close to her to make it a little harder for her to catch the rights.”
In a dramatic close to Round 2, Andrew clinched the win with a desperate attempt in dying seconds of the heat. Manuel held the lead in the last five minutes, leaving Andrew to chase a 4.60. At the buzzer, Andrew scored a 4.77 to take the win from Manuel. Andrew will now advance to Round 3 where she will face top seeds Tyler Wright (AUS) and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS).
“That heat was a bit frustrating at first,” said Andrew. “I had a couple of really small scores but other than that I’m happy with how I’m surfing at the moment. I’m definitely leaving that last heat with a lot more confidence.”
Sage Erickson (USA) kicked off the day’s eliminations with her win over Coco Ho (HAW) in the opening heat of Round 2. Currently ranked 14th on the Jeep Leaderboard, Erickson has had two last-place results this year (Gold Coast, Margaret River). The American will now advance to Round 3 where she will face Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) and three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW).
“To make it into Round 3 has been a challenge for me this year,” said Erickson. “There is something so special about this event where you carry their passion and the momentum that you find here throughout the whole year. I have had a string of bad results, and so really here I was feeling a momentum shift for myself. Last year I had such a great year, and this year I am trying to refind that confidence in competing, and I am hoping that Brazil is going to give that to me.”
2018 CT Rookie Caroline Marks (USA) stayed confident in Itaúna’s shifting lineup to defeat Paige Hareb (NZL) in Heat 5. Marks found her rhythm mid-way through the matchup with powerful finishing maneuvers, while Hareb struggled to find substantial rides. Hareb is back on the elite CT after falling off in 2014 but has yet to escape the early elimination round in 2018. Today’s result marks her fourth-straight elimination in Round 2.
“Anything could have happened in that heat,” said Marks. “She [Paige Hareb] could have gotten a few bombs or I could have, but I just stuck to my game plan and did not second-guess myself. You just have to pick a spot and be decisive and confident about it. It definitely was a little nerve-racking, but it worked out and I am stoked.”
Marks will advance to Round 3 where she will be up against Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), who eliminated injury replacement Pauline Ado (FRA) in Heat 4.
Johanne Defay (FRA) dispatched event wildcard Taís Almeida (BRA) in Heat 3 with the highest heat score of the day, a 13.83 (out of a possible 20). The Saquarema local fought hard to win her first CT heat, but with only average scores, could not combat the current World No. 6. Almeida will exit in Equal 13th place, while Defay advances to Round 3.
The WSL Commissioner’s Office will reconvene tomorrow morning to reassess the conditions and make the next call.
Source: World Surf League Image: Australia's Keely Andrew took down Malia Manuel (HAW) in Round 2 Heat 6 of the Oi Rio Pro. Credit: © WSL / Poullenot