Competition recommenced today at the Corona Saquarema Pro pres. by Banco do Brasil, Stop No. 6 of the World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series, with moderate onshore winds and waves in the four-to-six foot range at Praia de Itaúna.
Despite the difficult conditions, the men’s Round of 96 and women’s Round of 64, Heats 1-10 were completed and saw impressive performances from an international field of athletes.
The WSL Tours and Competition team will reconvene tomorrow, Friday, November 4 at 7:00 a.m. (GMT-3) for a possible 7:35 a.m. start.
Pictured: Samuel Pupo (BRA) earned the highest score of the day at the Corona Saquarema Pro pres. by Banco do Brasil, Stop No. 6 of the 2022 Challenger Series. Credit: WSL / Thiago Diz
Fioravanti and Pupo Come Out Swinging
Current Challenger Series rankings leader Leonardo Fioravanti (ITL) maintained his high performance surfing with an impressive win in the Round of 96, Heat 20. Fioravanti used powerful forehand hacks on the hefty right-handers at Praia de Itaúna to earn a 6.27 and a 6.07 (out of possible 10) on his two best waves for a 12.34 heat total (out of a possible 20 points). Now that he has clinched a spot on the 2023 Championship Tour (CT), his confidence is at an all time high and his surfing has been a reflection of that mentality. “It’s been a great couple of months on the Challenger Series, winning the event in Ericeira was a goal of mine, but the overall objective was getting back on Tour,” said Fioravanti. “I’m here because I want to keep winning, keep competing and I love Brazil. Even though it’s been windy, rainy and cold for Brazil, it’s one of my favorite places. The people here are so nice, the food is great, so I’m stoked to be back here.”
Another athlete who has had prior success at Praia de Itaúna, including a runner-up finish at the 2022 Oi Rio Pro, is Brazilian surfer Samuel Pupo (BRA).
After a sluggish start to his heat, Pupo earned a 6.83 on his first keeper. He then followed it up with an excellent 8.50, earning the highest single-wave score of the day on a frontside turn followed by a fins-free carve on the closeout section.
“It was a nice wave and I was just trying to better my score,” said Pupo. “ It was a hard heat for me and I couldn’t find any waves down the beach, so I paddled back up front and found those rights. It was pretty scary with ten minutes left and I didn’t have any scores, so I had to do my best to get first place. I always want to put on a good performance and it’s nice to be back here for a Challenger Series event, but I miss that winning feeling, so I’m just focused on making the Final and winning.”
Pictured: Top seed Molly Picklum (AUS) was eliminated at the Corona Saquarema Pro pres. by Banco do Brasil. Credit: WSL / Thiago Diz
Top Seed, Picklum, Eliminated in Women’s Round of 64
After several days of anticipation, the women’s Round of 64 was finally able to hit the water and with CT qualification on the line, performances did not disappoint.
Current No. 2 on the rankings, Molly Picklum (AUS), had a chance to claim her spot on the 2023 CT here in Brazil. But, in the upset of the day she was eliminated in the Round of 64, Heat 8.
Picklum put up an excellent 8.00, but suffered an interference penalty causing her second score to go to zero and costing her the heat. In the Round of 64, Heat 3, former CT surfer Bronte Macaulay (AUS) began the match with a solid 7.83. She then added a backup score of 5.17 to win the heat and advance into the Round of 32. Macaulay could potentially climb back into the Top-5 rankings with a Quarterfinal result at the Corona Saquarema Pro. “I ended up down the beach because of the rip and had to do the runaround, so I feel like the rip right in front of the comp zone is where you want to be, but after my good wave, I kind of did nothing for the next 25 minutes, but it feels nice to get through,” said Macaulay. “I’ve only made one heat here and I’m pretty far behind in points, so I need a good result here, but I’m pretty excited for the next few days. The forecast looks good so it should be pretty fun.”
Pictured: Sophia Medina (BRA) won her first heat at the Corona Saquarema Pro pres. by Banco do Brasil. Credit: WSL / Thiago Diz
Medina Performs Brilliantly Under Pressure
This is the first event that Sophia Medina (BRA) is competing in the same event as her brother, three-time WSL World Champion, Gabriel Medina (BRA). Despite having a difficult season on the 2022 Challenger Series, Medina has had prior success here in Saquarema, clinching her first WSL South America title in 202, and a Semifinal result at the QS 5,000 this past October.
Medina used her local knowledge to fend off Hawaiian Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) by a slim margin of 12.16 to 10.40 respectively, as both advanced into the Round of 32.
“That last wave was all or nothing, I had to go for it,” said Medina. “I’ve been trying that move all week long, but this was the first time it felt good completing it. It’s always from the heart. I’ve been really down this year. It was the first heat I’ve won on the Challenger Series this year. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do my best and the results didn’t come. So this time I just decided on having fun and whatever happens happens.”
When asked about competing at the same event as her brother for the first time, Medina responded:
“It feels so good. When I saw him make his first heat, I knew I had to do my part too. It’s actually very emotional to be in the same event as him. I’ve been to Saquarema so many times when I was younger. I see so many people that were on the CT at the same time and now to be in the same event means a lot, so I just want to do my best.”
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Remaining Women’s Round of 64 Heats:
HEAT 11: Zoe McDougall (HAW) vs. Rina Matsunaga (JPN) vs. Samantha Sibley (USA) vs. Mariana Areno (BRA)
HEAT 12: Sarah Baum (ZAF) vs. Summer Macedo (BRA) vs. Camilla Kemp (DEU) vs. Isabela Saldanha (BRA)
HEAT 13: Luana Silva (BRA) vs. Keely Andrew (AUS) vs. Havanna Cabrero (PRI) vs. Julia Duarte (BRA)
HEAT 14: Alyssa Spencer (USA) vs. Leilani McGonagle (CRI) vs. Hinako Kurokawa (JPN) vs. Karol Ribeiro (BRA)
HEAT 15: Zahli Kelly (AUS) vs. Nadia Erostarbe (EUK) vs. Carolina Mendes (PRT) vs. Taina Hinckel (BRA)
HEAT 16: Sophie McCulloch (AUS) vs. Francisca Veselko (PRT) vs. Chelsea Tuach (BRB) vs. Yasmin Dias (BRA)
Upcoming Men’s Round of 48 Heats:
HEAT 1: Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Joao Chianca (BRA) vs. Timothe Bisso (FRA) vs. Marcos Correa (BRA)
HEAT 2: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Eithan Osborne (USA) vs. Kalani Ball (AUS) vs. Douglas Silva (BRA)
HEAT 3: Liam O'Brien (AUS) vs. Justin Becret (FRA) vs. Santiago Muniz (ARG) vs. Te Kehukehu Butler (NZL)
HEAT 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Jett Schilling (USA) vs. Taichi Wakita (JPN) vs. Jose Gundesen (ARG)
HEAT 5: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) vs. Maxime Huscenot (FRA) vs. Gatien Delahaye (FRA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
HEAT 6: Jordan Lawler (AUS) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA) vs. Kei Kobayashi (USA) vs. Joel Vaughan (AUS)
HEAT 7: Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) vs. Marco Giorgi (URY) vs. Lucas Silveira (BRA) vs. Ian Gentil (HAW)
HEAT 8: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) vs. Edgard Groggia (BRA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
HEAT 9: Rio Waida (IDN) vs. Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) vs. Carlos Munoz (CRI) vs. Gabriel Andre (BRA)
HEAT 10: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Keanu Asing (HAW) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
HEAT 11: Cauã Costa (BRA) vs. Brodi Sale (HAW) vs. Shun Murakami (JPN) vs. Chris Zaffis (AUS)
HEAT 12: Samuel Pupo (BRA) vs. Lucca Mesinas (PER) vs. Ryan Kainalo (BRA) vs. Dylan Moffat (AUS)