After two years of waiting, Brazil will once again host a stage of the World Tour. Excluded from the WSL (World Surfing League) calendar in the last two seasons due to the pandemic of the new coronavirus, the country returns to the Tour from this Thursday, when the Rio Pro begins. As has been happening since 2017, the competition will be held in Saquarema, in the Lagos Region, with the main stage at Praia de Itaúna, a location known as the “Maracanã do Surfe” because of the quality of the wave.
Filipe Toledo, champion in Saquarema in 2019 — Photo: WSL
The first call takes place at 7 am this Thursday with the Olympic champion Italo Ferreira in the first heat. Rio Pro will be broadcast live on sportv3, on ge.globo, in addition to real-time monitoring on ge.
– Returning to compete in Brazil is awesome, not only because of the good vibes here but also because we are in our country, speaking our language and eating our food. Today at breakfast I fell in love with our food, I even ate a couscous, I’m even too heavy to compete, since I was too thin (laughs). There was still time to spend two days at home to recharge. I’ve never had a life as good as it is now, but I have to enjoy my free time at home – said Italo, currently 4th in the ranking.
The Rio Pro is the eighth stage of the 2022 World Tour. It is also the third-to-last event before the WSL Finals, a competition bringing together the best five surfers of the season that will define this year’s world champion. In addition to Italo, Brazil has Filipe Toledo in the top 5. Filipinho, by the way, is the leader of the ranking and winner of the last two editions of the Rio Pro.
Gabriel Medina, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Italo Ferreira and João Chianca at the Rio Pro press conference — Photo: Flávio Dilascio
– The crowd is very anxious for the beginning of the event. It’s been two years without coming to Saquarema. The beach will be crowded for sure, it will be one of the events with the biggest audience this year and I can guarantee it will be awesome – commented Filipinho, who participated in a social action of a sponsor this Wednesday afternoon, collecting garbage from Itaúna.
Needing a real “miracle” in the three stages before the WSL Finals to enter the G5, Gabriel Medina seeks a great result in Saquarema to stay alive this season. Despite the complicated situation due to his absence from the first five events of the year, the three-time world champion does not feel pressured.
– I’m happy to have competed again, I took two semifinals and what I want now is to surf and enjoy my time in the water. I was out of rhythm and my strategy is to go into the water and do my best – summarized Gabriel.
Italo Ferreira wants to stay in the G5 — Photo: Matt Dunbar/World Surf League
Tatiana is the attraction in the feminine
In the women’s, the spotlight is on Tatiana Weston-Webb. The only Brazilian in the elite, the gaúcha is in ninth place in the ranking and needs to score well to enter the G5. Tati debuts in heat 2 against Hawaiian Carissa Moore and Peruvian Sol Aguirre.
– The energy I feel when I compete in Brazil is incredible and makes me feel stronger. I’m ninth in the rankings, for me that’s not the best, but I know I have a good chance of reaching the top 5 and going to the finals. But I’m motivated to surf well in Saquarema, have fun in the water and get what I need – commented Weston-Webb.
The Rio Pro window runs until the 30th, next Thursday. Organizers expect the event to take place on Tuesday. In addition to Itaúna, the WSL set up an alternative stage in the place known as Barrinha. This is the 12th time that a stage of the World Surfing Circuit has taken place in the state of Rio, the fourth in a row in Saquarema.
Tatiana Weston-Webb in action at Bells Beach — Photo: Kelly Cestari/WSL
1. Italo Ferreira (BRA) x Matthew McGillivray (AFS) x Joao Chianca (BRA)
2. Griffin Colpinto (USA) x Jake Marshall (USA) x Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
3. Jack Robinson (AUS) x Samuel Pupo (BRA) x Mateus Herdy (BRA)
4. Filipe Toledo (BRA) x Nat Young (USA) x Miguel Tudela (PER)
5. Kanoa Igarashi (JAP) x Kolohe Andrino (USA) x Yago Dora (BRA)
6. Ethan Ewing (AUS) x Connor O’Leary (AUS) x Gabriel Medina (BRA)
7. Callum Robson (AUS) x Jordy Smith (AFS) x Jackson Baker (AUS)
8. Miguel Pupo (BRA) x Caio Ibelli (BRA) x Jadson André (BRA)
1. Brisa Hennessy (CRC) x Lakey Peterson (USA) x Gabriela Bryan (HAV)
2. Carissa Moore (HAV) x Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) x Sol Aguirre (PER)
3. Johanne Defay (FRA) x Courtney Colongue (USA) x Caroline Marks (USA)
4. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) x Isabella Nichols (AUS) x Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)