The Oi Rio Pro, the fourth stop on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour, begins tomorrow with a competitive window of May 10-21, 2016.
Matt Wilkinson (AUS) and Courtney Conlogue (USA) lead the Jeep WSL Leaderboard heading into Rio. Wilkinson and Conlogue will wear the coveted yellow Jeep WSL Leader Jerseys throughout the event and battle to remain at the forefront of the world elite.
“I have been working really hard, and obviously I have had a bit of luck come my way,” Wilkinson said. “Everything feels right and it has been such a fun year for me so far. Hopefully I can keep this momentum going. I feel like my surfing and competing has grown-up a lot in the last year.”
“The motivation for this year came from the ending of last year,” Conlogue said. “The women have been absolutely performing amazing this season and the end of last season, and I knew I needed to step up my game. The CT stops have been providing some great waves, and I am looking forward to getting the Oi Rio Pro going and seeing how it ends up.”
Conlogue will face injury replacement Bronte Macaulay (AUS) and event Wildcard Silvana Lima (BRA) in Women’s Round 1 Heat 3. Conlogue will battle for a back-to-back win at Rio after taking home the win last year. Conlogue’s strong performance on the Australian leg this season has positioned her as a major Title contender.
Adriano de Souza (BRA), defending WSL Champion, will fight to rebound from a slow start in Australia. De Souza earned a Quarterfinal finish on the Gold Coast, but was not able to advance out of Round 3 at Bells Beach or Margaret River. The reigning World Champion will battle Keanu Asing (HAW) and injury replacement Lucas Silveira (BRA) in Round 1 Heat 6.
“It’s always an honor to compete in my home country,” De Souza said. “I have had a tough start this year. I think it’s always more difficult holding onto something as opposed to going after something. I am the target this year. That’s okay though. I feel like I am surfing well and I am focused on getting a good result in Rio.”
Gabriel Medina (BRA), 2014 WSL Champion, has yet to advance past Round 5 so far this season. Medina will battle to take down injury replacement Stuart Kennedy (AUS), who defeated the Brazilian powerhouse on the Gold Coast. Medina will also face injury replacement Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), who made a splash at Margaret River when he eliminated De Souza.
Filipe Toledo (BRA), who suffered an injury during the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, is ready to return to competition in Rio after a two-event absence. Toledo, the reigning Oi Rio Pro Champion, is excited to be back in the water and will battle for a back-to-back event win. Toledo will face 2016 WSL Rookie Kanoa Igarashi (USA) and Dusty Payne (HAW) in the opening Round of the Men’s competition.
“It’s amazing to be back in the water,” Toledo said. “It was very hard to watch those events from home, but the way you have to surf these days, you cannot come back at less than 100%. I’m feeling good and looking forward to being back in the singlet here in Rio.”
Italo Ferreira (BRA), 2015 WSL Rookie of the Year, is currently ranked World No. 3 on the Jeep Leaderboard. With Semifinal finishes at Bells Beach and Margaret River, Ferreira will fight to break into the Finals for the first time this season. Ferreira will face Miguel Pupo (BRA) and injury replacement Bino Lopes (BRA) in Round 1 Heat 4.
“My goal when I qualified was just to requalify,” Ferreira said. “Now that I have had a good rookie year and some good results, I want to finish in the Top 5. That’s my goal. There are a lot of good surfers on tour now.”
Carissa Moore (HAW), reigning Women’s WSL Champion and current World No. 3, will battle to strengthen her 2016 Title campaign. Moore has come away with three straight Semifinal finishes on the Australian leg and will try to break into the Finals at Rio. Moore will meet Sage Erickson (USA) and 2016 WSL Rookie Chelsea Tuach (BRB) in Round 1 Heat 5 when competition gets underway.
“It has been an amazing start to the season and I’ve been impressed with how well all the girls are competing,” said Moore. “We have been getting great waves. I have gotten three Semifinal finishes. It has definitely fired me up to see Courtney and Tyler do really well. I am excited to be here.”
The Oi Rio Pro will be webcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the WSL app.
The event is also being carried by the WSL’s LIVE broadcast partners Fox Sports Australia, CBS Sports in the United States, ESPN Brasil, Globosat, Edgesport, Sky NZ, Sport TV, Canal + Deportes, Channel Nine, MCS, Starhub, and Oceanic Time Warner Cable 250 & 1250 in Hawaii.
The Surfline forecast is projecting surf in the head-high range for the opening day of the event window on May 10.
Owen Wright (AUS) and Bede Durbidge (AUS) remain out with injury while Kai Otton (AUS) and Kelly Slater (USA) have withdrawn for personal reasons. Mick Fanning (AUS) continues to take time off in 2016 for his personal year and the recent retirement of Taj Burrow (AUS) has him absent from Rio as well. Joel Parkinson (AUS) has withdrawn to mend a knee injury ahead of the remainder of the year. The men’s replacements include Adam Melling (AUS), Stuart Kennedy (AUS), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), Dusty Payne (HAW), Bino Lopes (BRA) and Lucas Silveira (BRA).
Deivid Silva (BRA) has been allocated a wildcard from the WSL Commissioner’s office as he is the highest ranked Brazilian on the Qualifying Series. The second wildcard has been allocated to Marco Fernandez (BRA) following today’s win at the local Trials at Grumari.
On the women’s side, Californian Lakey Peterson (USA) remains out with her ankle injury sustained pre-season. She will be replaced by Bronte Macaulay (AUS).
Oi Rio Pro Men’s Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Stuart Kennedy (AUS), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS), Davey Cathels (AUS), Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Bino Lopes (BRA)
Heat 5: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA), Marco Fernandez (BRA)
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Keanu Asing (BRA), Lucas Silveira (BRA)
Heat 7: Nat Young (USA), Michel Bourez (PYF), Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Conner Coffin (USA), Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 9: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Josh Kerr (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 10: Kolohe Andino (USA), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 12: Caio Ibelli (BRA), John John Florence (HAW), Matt Banting (AUS)
Oi Rio Women’s Pro Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), Laura Enever (AUS)
Heat 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Malia Manuel (HAW), Keely Andrew (AUS)
Heat 3: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Bronte Macaulay (AUS), Silvana Lima (BRA)
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW), Sage Erickson (USA), Chelsea Tuach (BRB)
Heat 6: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Johanne Defay (FRA), Alessa Quizon (HAW)