All photos by WSL/Cestari/Smorigo
With Adriano de Souza atop the Jeep Leaderboard, and two out of three events in 2015 won by Brazilians, you’d better expect that the #BrazilianStorm would turn into a hurricane at the Oi Rio Pro, stop 4 on the Samsung Galaxy World Tour. And so far, it has.
Round 1 for both the men and women was completed in pumping beachbreak madness at Barra da Tijuca yesterday when a surprising jump in the swell got the approval for competition from commissioner Kieren Perrow. The men hit the water first as the Rio crowd worked up into a frenzy for their fellow countrymen.
Kelly Slater was the first to raise the bar in Heat #2 with the best tubes and highest heat score of the day – 19.27! Kelly pulled in late and deep on two amazing right barrels, emerging after the spit for a 9.5 and a 9.77. With no warm-up surf, Kelly charged the entire 30 minutes throwing away high 7’s and 8’s in his quest to find seemingly unmake-able tubes. It was a stunning display of Kelly at his best – a much needed sight after a so-so start in 2015 for the 11-time World Champ.
Besides Slater’s epic heat, it was clear that the Brazilian contingent owned the day. World #1 Adriano de Souza posted the second highest heat score behind Slater at 17.90, smoking fellow countrymen David do Carmo and Aussie Kai Otton. Unlike Slater, Adriano racked up the scores for mindblowing vert snaps and ankle breaking closeout bashes and floaters. Smooth as ever with undeniable focus, Adriano showed why he is so far in front of #2 Mick Fanning and the rest of the tour. He will be hard to beat at this event.
Other Brazilian heat wins were posted by rookies Italo Ferreira and Wiggolly Dantas, reigning World Champ Gabriel Medina, wonderkid Filipe Toledo, and the smiling assassin Jadson Andre. Italo used the tube to stun Mick Fanning in Heat #5, forcing the three-time World Champ to surf in the upcoming elimination Round 2 versus wildcard David do Carmo (who just happened to knock Mick out of the event last year). Wiggolly ousted supreme being John John Florence by also using the left tubes to his advantage. JJF got a sick one after the horn, but it probably still wouldn’t have been enough to top Dantas’ score. Gabriel’s heat was kind of quiet compared to others, yet he still managed a couple nice tubes for the win, while Toledo lofted a giant backside 360 full-rotation air that made the crowd go bananas.
Other notable heat wins came from an on fire Jeremy Flores, who has posted two WQS10000 2nd place finishes in the two weeks previous to the Oi Rio Pro. Jeremy continued with his new approach to competition including big smiles and overall good vibes to go with his searing rail carves and veteran wave knowledge. Aussie Matt Wilkinson pulled off a mental frontside 360 air that covered a lot of distance to get past fellow Aussie legends Joel Parkinson and Owen Wright.
On the women’s side of the event, the usual suspects continued to top the field. Except for one huge upset! Wildcard Aussie starlet Keely Andrew seemed poised and in control in her win over powerhouse Tyler Wright and Hawaiian Coco Ho. Andrew found her own peak down the beach that offered way better rights than her competitors could find in front of the judges tower.
Jeep Ratings Leader Carissa Moore easily took down Dimity Stoyle and Wildcard Brazilian Luana Coutinho. Courtney Conlogue and Sally Fitzgibbons also found easy heat wins in Round 1. South African Bianca Buitendag used her power to overcome Lakey Peterson and Alessa Quizon, while rookie Tatiana Weston-Webb continued her fine form in 2015 with a close win over Malia Manuel and Nikki Van Dijk in Heat #6.
Look for Round 2 to kick off tomorrow if conditions permit. Swell is on the rise and winds are forecasted to be good, but Mother Nature will make the final call at dawn. Watch the webcast live at worldsurfleague.com!