PRAIA DE SUPERTUBOS, Peniche, Portugal (Sunday, March 12, 2023) - The MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Presented by Corona, Stop No. 3 on the World Surf League (WSL) 2023 Championship Tour (CT), continued in challenging surf today to complete another important day of competition.
Pictured: Callum Robson (AUS) took on an impossible drop this morning and somehow made it. Credit: © WSL / Poullenot
Surfers were greeted with massive waves this morning and the water patrol was put to good use for the safety of all athletes in the double-overhead sets.
The Men’s Elimination Round was completed before the event went on hold to wait for the swell to ease down and the tide to turn. Competition resumed early this afternoon in slightly more manageable conditions and completed 14 heats of the Men’s Round of 32.
Callum Robson Finds First Perfect 10 Point Ride of 2023 Season
Australia’s Callum Robson was against the ropes with only minutes on the clock in his Elimination Round matchup with Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Maxime Huscenot (FRA) needing a big score to escape third place.
When a massive wave approached the lineup, Robson didn’t hesitate and launched himself into a scary drop, barely making the bottom turn, locked into a big, dark cave, only to exit with a huge spit and the judges’ nod of approval as the first perfect 10 point ride of the season.
“It feels really good, especially in a moment where I needed it the most,” Robson reflected. “The fact that I got the opportunity to get a wave and the fact that I capitalized on it, I was super stoked. I just paddled as hard as I could and just threw my board, made the drop and then I was in there and it just fully sucked me back and I thought please let me out. I was so happy, I was clapping so hard that my hands got sore.”
Later in the day, Robson also advanced through his Round of 32 matchup over compatriot Liam O'Brien (AUS).
On the Bubble, Samuel Pupo Turns in Big Heat Win Over Igarashi
In an exciting clash between Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and Samuel Pupo (BRA), the two went blow-for-blow. It looked set to go Igarashi’s way when he opened with a big barrel ride for an excellent score and quickly backed it up, keeping the lead for the majority of the heat.
Pupo relied on his strong rail work and committed finishing maneuvers to fight back and scored the two best waves in the final 5 minutes. It was a crucial win for Pupo who sits right below the mid-season cutline.
“I thought to myself, there’s no way I’m losing this heat. It took so much grit to get through it. I knew what I had to do, but mentally it took a lot from me, ” Pupo admitted.
From Survival to Attack Mode, Ibelli Into the Round of 16
Caio Ibelli (BRA) was the first surfer out when competition resumed this afternoon, swinging left, right and center. Ibelli seemed to be in rhythm with the pumping Supertubos lineup from the start. Pulling into a frothy tube, the Brazilian dodged the chandelier showers and emerged through a seemingly unmakeable exit to a big roar from the crowds.
“When it’s massive like this morning it was just about surviving and trying to have fun doing so,” Ibelli said of his Elimination Round. “This afternoon it was much more manageable but it’s still heavy water and bottomless waves. It was less about risk management and more about attacking mode and having fun.”
Chianca, Duru, Waida Upset World Champions in Challenging Barrels
Joao Chianca (BRA) against 11X World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) was a fan-favorite heat to watch this afternoon as the pair took on the powerful pits in front of capacity crowds. The young Brazilian got an early start with a quick tube and a collection of three turns to put a 6.17 (out of 10) on the board. He backed it up with a longer, better barrel for a 6.37 and applied pressure on Slater. The Floridian turned in the best wave of the heat with a 7.33 for a deep and technical tube but unfortunately ran out of time and opportunities.
“Kelly’s an incredible surfer and person inside and out and it was such an honor to surf against him,” Chianca said. “I had a good heat this morning so I was just trying to channel that and forget about everything else, there was so much going on. With a minute left I knew I couldn’t count Kelly out. The crowd is so gnarly, they screamed my name, there were a lot of Brazilians and it adds pressure but a good pressure, to try and do well for them.”
Reigning World Champion Filipe Toledo (BRA) never really got any rhythm going in his battle against former CT surfer Joan Duru (FRA). The Frenchman on the other hand found a couple of little nuggets on his backhand and locked in some tube time to defeat Toledo and make his way into the Round of 16. A former Finalist in Peniche, Duru will be one to count on if conditions continue to provide challenging tubes this week.
In a scrappy heat between John John Florence (HAW) and Rio Waida (INA), the rookie upset the 2X World Champion, who made uncharacteristically poor wave choices.
“I was nervous and excited at the same time, but the conditions were tough, it was very stressful. John is one of the best surfers in the world and I just wanted to give my everything. It wasn’t the best, but I’m glad I got the job done,” Waida reacted.
Pictured: In a contest of wave chasing, Kelly Slater (USA) was left wanting. Credit: © WSL / Poullenot
Rankings Shakeup Guaranteed Post Portugal
A number of highly placed surfers on the current Championship Tour rankings have been eliminated today, giving room for hungry rookies and surfers both in and out the Top 22 to climb a few spots up the leaderboard. World No. 2 Toledo and World No.4 Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) as well as Florence, Miguel Pupo (BRA), Jordy Smith (RSA) and Nat Young (USA) will all leave Portugal with a minimal amount of points and look to redeem themselves in the upcoming Australian leg.
The Elimination Round was not kind to big stars either as Kolohe Andino (USA), Frederico Morais (POR), Ezekiel Lau (HAW) and Maxime Huscenot (FRA) failed to advance, finishing equal 33rd.
The next call will be on Monday, March 13, 6:50 a.m GMT at Supertubos.
MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Women’s Round of 16 Matchups: HEAT 1: Molly Picklum (AUS) vs. Isabella Nichols (AUS) HEAT 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Teresa Bonvalot (POR) HEAT 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) HEAT 4: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA) HEAT 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Yolanda Hopkins (POR) HEAT 6: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) vs. Macy Callaghan (AUS) HEAT 7: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Caitlin Simmers (USA) HEAT 8: Brisa Hennessy (CRC) vs. Sophie McCulloch (AUS)
Remaining MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Men’s Round of 32 Matchups: HEAT 15: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Seth Moniz (HAW) HEAT 16: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Jackson Baker (AUS)
MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Men’s Round of 32 Results: HEAT 1: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 13.57 DEF. Carlos Munoz (CRC) 8.30 HEAT 2: Connor O'Leary (AUS) 12.27 DEF. Nat Young (USA) 9.66 HEAT 3: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 12.23 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 11.43 HEAT 4: Joao Chianca (BRA) 12.54 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 10.83 HEAT 5: Joan Duru (FRA) 10.84 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 6.17 HEAT 6: Callum Robson (AUS) 6.73 DEF. Liam O'Brien (AUS) 6.50 HEAT 7: Ian Gentil (HAW) 11.20 DEF. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 3.94 HEAT 8: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 14.40 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 13.27 HEAT 9: Jack Robinson (AUS) 10.93 DEF. Tiago Carrique (FRA) 5.93 HEAT 10: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 11.10 DEF. Jordy Smith (RSA) 10.07 HEAT 11: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 12.17 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 9.40 HEAT 12: Rio Waida (INA) 9.30 DEF. John John Florence (HAW) 9.17 HEAT 13: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.94 DEF. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 3.73 HEAT 14: Yago Dora (BRA) 10.93 DEF. Matthew McGillivray (RSA) 10.70
MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Men’s Elimination Round Results: HEAT 1: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 7.57 DEF. Tiago Carrique (FRA) 4.57, Kolohe Andino (USA) 4.33 HEAT 2: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.00 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 6.20, Frederico Morais (POR) 5.46 HEAT 3: Joao Chianca (BRA) 13.00 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 7.83, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 3.43 HEAT 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.16 DEF. Callum Robson (AUS) 12.50, Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 10.84
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