A capacity crowd at Rio de Janeiro’s Barra da Tijuca beach enjoyed another full day of world-class surfing today as the Oi Rio Pro completed Rounds 2, 3 and 4 of the women’s event as well as the men’s Quarterfinals, setting the final surfers for a climactic final day tomorrow.
Filipe Toledo (BRA) claimed his place in the Semifinals in front of thousands of screaming fans. Toledo’s air game was in full effect through his match-up against rookie Ricardo Christie (NZL), who’s had an amazing run of form through this event.
“It’s crazy, I’ve never seen anything like the crowds here,” said Toledo. “There are so many people and you can’t hear anything, it’s amazing. I’m happy with my performance but I am trying to save the best for the finals. It’s the best feeling to start the year with a win and two nice results after that. I definitely want to be in the top 5 in the end of the year and in the fight for the world title.”
Rookie Italo Ferreira (BRA) will battle Toledo for a spot in the Final after he defeated friend and fellow countryman Jadson Andre (BRA) in Quarterfinal 2. The heat saw several lead changes but eventually Ferreira took the win by less than half a point, eliminating Andre in 5th place.
“I’m super happy at this moment,” Ferreira said. “Thanks Jaddy (Jadson Andre) for the heat. I’m so stoked to make another heat and make it to the Semifinal with Filipe (Toledo). Thanks to everyone on the beach and my family for supporting me. It’s great that there will be a Brazilian in the Final here.”
Quarterfinals 3 and 4 saw two all-Australian match-ups. First up Bede Durbidge (AUS) looked strong and steady, going left and right, to bring in an 8.07 and take the win over Josh Kerr (AUS).
“It’s going off right now here and the finals will be even bigger,” Durbidge said. “I was pretty gutted with those two 25ths that I’ve got. Last year I had a pretty good year and I want to be consistent this year. Hopefully this is a turning point for me and I’m looking forward to tomorrow and having a big day.”
Matt Wilkinson (AUS) went on to get the better of Owen Wright (AUS) in their heat to secure his place in the Semifinals against Durbidge and post his best result of 2015 so far.
“I went out there and I had my little spot planned,” said Wilkinson. “The first wave of the heat you’re always so nervous but I felt good. It’s always scary to have Owen (Wright) in a heat and he nearly made that air so I was worried.”
In the women’s competition Lakey Peterson (USA) was first to secure her place in the Quarterfinals when she stormed to victory with a Round 3 win over defending event winner Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) and wildcard Keely Andrew (AUS) with a near-perfect 9 point ride. Peterson, currently in sixth place on the Jeep Leaderboard, will be looking to better her third-place finish in Rio last year when she faces Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) in Quarterfinals.
“It sort of feels like Ventura out there, which is what I grew up surfing,” Peterson said. “I was just having fun with it today and I think the key is to put yourself on a lot of waves to give yourself a lot of opportunity.”
Fitzgibbons went on to face Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) in Round 4 and it was the South African who came out on top after posting an excellent 8.83 on her second ride. Fitzgibbons couldn’t find a score to match and is eliminated in equal 9th place while Buitendag will move on to the Quarterfinals.
“I spend my life surfing righthand point breaks at home so I don’t get much practice on a left,” said Buitendag. “When you don’t expect a lot I think you can be pleasantly surprised and I think that’s what happened in that heat. It’s about time that I got my rhythm and I’m hopefully improving.”
Tyler Wright (AUS) posted the highest heat total of the day, a 17.57, with a dominant performance and big turns in Round 3 against Silvana Lima (BRA) and Tatiana Weston-Webb. The win earns her a Quarterfinal berth where she will face Coco Ho (HAW). Lima was later eliminated by Ho in Round 4 while Weston-Webb (HAW) went down to Courtney Conlogue (USA).
“It is absolutely insane, the crowd’s enthusiasm for anything that Silvana (Lima) does is amazing,” said Wright. “I love it though, I thought it was so fun. I like to adapt rather than have a set, structured game plan. That frees me up to do whatever I need to do out there.”
World no. 1 Carissa Moore (HAW) remains on track to take her third CT victory this season after securing her place in the Quarterfinals at the Oi Rio Pro. A 14.87 Round 3 heat total sees her move on in the competition after defeating Buitendag and Johanne Defay (FRA).
“For beachbreaks you really have to find the most consistent peaks,” said Moore. “That’s what I’ve been working on with Pat O’Connell while I’m here. I’ve got a great team and I’m feeling really good here.”
Injury replacement Keely Andrew (AUS) eliminated Defay after winning their Round 4 match-up. Currently in equal 4th place on the WSL Qualifying Series rankings, Andrew hopes to join the Top 17 in 2016 and become a permanent fixture on the CT.
“If all goes well this is my practice run for next year if I can keep my spot on the rankings,” Andrew said. “It’s a lot of fun here. The girls are ripping and Johanne (Defay) is such an amazing competitor and I always love surfing against her. It’s tough out there but the crowd here are unreal.”
The Oi Rio Pro will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com
The world’s best surfing will also be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports in Australia, MCS Extreme in France, EDGE Sports in China, South Korea, Malaysia and other territories and on Globo TV in Brazil.
Oi Rio Women’s Pro Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Silvana Lima (BRA) 11.83 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 9.50
Heat 2: Johanne Defay (FRA) 10.00 def. Alessa Quizon (HAW) 5.43
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.83 def. Luana Coutinho (BRA) 6.84
Heat 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) 14.77 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 10.77
Heat 5: Malia Manuel (HAW) 15.60 def. Laura Enever (AUS) 14.27
Heat 6: Coco Ho (HAW) 9.83 def. Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 8.17
Oi Rio Women’s Pro Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) 16.83, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.23, Keely Andrew (AUS) 7.76
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.87, Johanne Defay (FRA) 9.84, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 8.37
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) 17.57, Silvana Lima (BRA) 13.60, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 8.63
Heat 4: Malia Manuel (HAW) 13.77, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.93, Coco Ho (HAW) 8.86
Oi Rio Women’s Pro Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 15.70 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.32
Heat 2: Keely Andrew (AUS) 14.33 def. Johanne Defay (FRA) 13.00
Heat 3: Coco Ho (HAW) 11.16 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 9.43
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.83 vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 10.87
Oi Rio Women’s Pro Quarterfinal Match-Ups:
QF 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)
QF 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Keely Andrew (AUS)
QF 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)
QF 4: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Oi Rio Men’s Pro Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.00 def. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 11.50
QF 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.30 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 13.74
QF 3: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.30 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.20
QF 4: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.76 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 11.30
Oi Rio Men’s Pro Semifinal Match-Ups:
SF 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)
SF 2: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)