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Big Eliminations Continue at Oi Rio Pro pres. by Corona

Oi Rio Pro presented by Corona, the fourth stop on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), continued with a full day of action in challenging three-to-five foot (1 -1.5 metre) waves in Saquarema. The event completed the remaining eight heats of men’s Round 2, women’s Round 2, and the first five heats of men’s Round 3.

2014 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) lit up the Praia de Itaúna lineup with his exciting win over Bede Durbidge (AUS) in elimination Round 3. The match-up saw multiple lead changes and big maneuvers, resulting in an exciting battle between the two competitors. Medina posted a 14.30 (out of a possible 20) two-wave combined score. A priority mistake by Medina in the dying minutes of the heat left the door open for Durbidge to take advantage. Durbidge was not able to complete his last ride and will be eliminated in Equal 13th place.

“It is good to have the support here in Brazil,” said Media. “That was a hard heat against Bede [Durbidge]. The waves are tricky and the current was strong, but I am stoked to win. When I got up the beach, I heard everyone screaming and it is good. It pushes us to surf our limit and try to do our best and put on a show for them.”

2015 WSL Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA) took down 2017 CT Rookie Ian Gouveia (BRA) in the opening heat of elimination Round 3. The dramatic all-Brazilian clash had the entire beach to their feet as De Souza landed an excellent 8.50 and 7.17. Gouveia has yet to move out of Round 3 and will leave with his third 13th place result of the season.

“It feels good to be in Brazil, this is my home,” said De Souza. “You travel all over the world and now I’m in my country. The people here really cheer for all of the Brazilians. It’s the only event we have all year and it’s a prestigious event so it’s really special.”

Mick Fanning (AUS), three-time WSL Champion, closed out the day with the elimination of rookie Connor O’Leary (AUS) in a fiery Round 3 battle. The heat was left to a nail-biting last exchange in the final minutes, with O’Leary first gaining control, but Fanning then throwing down a critical 7.17 for the win.

“As surfers and competitors we all want to progress and keep moving forward,” said Fanning. “I’m just having fun with it. I’ve never had a year where I’ve been so relaxed – this year I’m focused on upping my performance and doing my best. It was a really fun here in Saquarema back in 2002 so it’s great to come back and revisit after so long. I really like this town, it’s so mellow.”

Despite his loss today, O’Leary showcased a new level to his surfing with his authoritative Round 2 win against Stuart Kennedy (AUS). O’Leary dominated with two near-perfect 9-point rides for an incredible 18.20 combined score.

2012 WSL Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS) also earned his place in the next round with his win against veteran Jeremy Flores (FRA) in Round 3 Heat 4.

Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) put on an incredible display during his Round 2 heat against Sebastian Zietz (BRA) and netted two excellent 9-point rides for an 18.27 heat total, the highest of the day. Zietz was left in a combination situation.

“I feel pretty good,” Dantas said. “I just tried to do big turns. I have good confidence here. My entire family is here and the whole crowd is amazing, and it helps a lot. When I found out the contest was going to move to here, I was so happy because I know this wave and I can surf well here. Saquarema is an amazing place.”

Rookies Ethan Ewing (AUS), Joan Duru (FRA) and Ezekiel Lau (HAW) were not able to win their Round 2 match-ups against Zietz, Caio Ibelli (BRA) and Dantas, respectively. The young competitors will be eliminated in Equal 25th place.

Injury replacement Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) played spoiler today as she took down three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) in elimination Round 2 of the Oi Rio Women’s Pro. The South African gained the edge over Moore with her aggressive backhand attack for a strong 7.17 and 5.67. Moore earned a 5.17 and 5.43, but could not score the 7.41 required to advance. Moore has not finished in last place in a CT event since 2010.

“I am very happy about the opportunity to come to Brazil,” Buitendag said. “Carissa [Moore], I think I could write a book about her. You think her surfing is strong and she is talented, but behind the hype and decoration, her personhood is one of the most beautiful people I have ever met and I have privilege of calling her a friend. It was a privilege for me to compete against her.”

Tyler Wright (AUS), reigning WSL Champion and defending event winner, powered through her Round 2 heat against 14-year-old wildcard Taina Hinckel (BRA). Wright found clean right-handers to post a phenomenal 18.00 two-wave combined score to put Hinckel in a difficult combination situation. The young Brazilian was not able to combat Wright and will be eliminated from her career-first CT event.

“That heat worked out really well,” said Wright. “With conditions like this, it kind of throws more variables into the mix. When you go out in a heat, you have to be on point with what you are doing and find those corners and get your rail set in. I went left the entire time from Bells to here, and it turns out that it is a right, which is funny. I’ve been training to go left because of this wave and also for Fiji. I am trying to even the odds on both sides.”

Local favorite Silvana Lima (BRA) was not able to defeat Keely Andrew (AUS) and will leave this event with a 13th place finish. Throughout the heat, Lima tried to challenge Andrew and even posted a solid 7.33, but it was not enough to take down the Australian.

In her first heat win of the 2017 season, Laura Enever (AUS) upset the competition after eliminating top seed Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) from the draw. The close battle went all the way to the dying seconds of the heat, with Enever narrowly capturing the win with a 12.03 two-wave score to Weston-Webb’s 11.33.

2017 CT Rookie Bronte Macaulay (AUS) was eliminated by compatriot Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) in Round 2 Heat 2. Macaulay’s exit marks her third consecutive 13th place finish of the season and she will now look to make a comeback in Fiji.

Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 6:45 am local time to assess conditions and make the next call.

Surfline, official forecaster for the event, are calling for:

Lingering swell mix expected for the weekend with conditions looking most favorable in the mornings both Saturday and Sunday. Larger SSW/S swell builds in on Monday but W-SW winds look to be an issue. Solid S swell peaks on Tuesday with lighter winds. Solid S/SSE swell is due for mid/late next week.

The event will be broadcast LIVE via WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL app and on Facebook LIVE via the WSL’s Facebook page. Also check the local listings for coverage on CBS Sports Network in the U.S., Fox Sports in Australia, ESPN in Brazil, Sky NZ in New Zealand, SFR Sports in France and Portugal and as part of the EDGEsport Network.

For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com.]]>

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