PRAIA DE ITAÚNA - Saquarema, Brazil (Tuesday, November 1, 2022) - The Corona Saquarema Pro pres. by Banco do Brasil, Stop No. 6 of the World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series began today in difficult conditions with strong onshore winds and waves in the four-to-six foot range at Praia de Itaúna. Nevertheless, competitors put on a show and top seeds started making moves to clinch a spot on the Championship Tour (CT).
Three-time WSL World Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) makes his return to competition at the Corona Saquarema Pro pres. by Banco do Brasil, Stop No. 6 of the 2022 Challenger Series. Credit: WSL / Thiago Diz The WSL Tours and Competition team will reconvene tomorrow, Wednesday, November 2, at 7:30 a.m. (GMT-3) for a possible 8:05 a.m. start.
Gabriel Medina (BRA) made his first appearance in a competition jersey in the Round of 96, Heat 8, since injuring his knee at this very location during the 2022 Oi Rio Pro. Medina reminded everyone why he's a three-time WSL World Champion, earning a 7.67 (out of a possible 10 points) with two wafty backside turns, and backing it up with a 4.83 to advance in first place into the Round of 48. “My time recovering was great, my knee feels really good and I’m happy to be competing again,” said Medina.”The waves aren’t that great today, but I'm happy to be back in a jersey again and just getting ready for Hawaii.I think everyone here is really hungry, so it just puts you out of your comfort zone, so it’s good preparation for the Championship Tour (CT).” This also marks the first time Medina is competing at the same event as his younger sister, Sophia Medina (BRA). “It’s amazing to have my sister in the same event,” continued Medina. “It’s the first time this has happened. She’s still my little princess, even though she’s so big now, but I’ve been supporting her and so proud of her. So I’m trying to enjoy every moment here.”
Earlier in the day in the Round of 96, Heat 4, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) blasted massive hacks to earn an impressive 13.90 heat total (out of a possible 20 points), advancing to the Round of 48 in first place alongside Marcos Correa (BRA) in second. Lau currently sits in 5th place on the Challenger Series rankings and hopes to make his return to the 2023 Championship Tour.
“I feel pretty good right now, the last event of the year is at Haleiwa, which is in my backyard, so I feel good knowing that I have that to finish on and I just came here with the goal of making heats and giving 100% effort every time,” said Lau. “I’ve been training at home in conditions similar to this and I’ve competed at Saquarema before. I love it, the wave is good and powerful and I like powerful waves, so I just hope to keep making heats and solidify my qualification,”
Liam O'Brien (AUS) at the Corona Saquarema Pro pres. by Banco do Brasil, Stop No. 6 of the 2022 Challenger Series. Credit: WSL / Daniel Smorigo
Another surfer who is seeking requalification is Australian surfer Liam O’Brien (AUS). O’Brien currently sits in fourth position on the men’s Challenger Series rankings and needs to maintain his pace to make it back on the CT . “It was nice to get through that one and it’s pretty crucial to keep making heats,” said O’Brien. “I’m just stoked to make it through because conditions are really challenging. I didn’t have much of a plan and just wanted to catch a couple but it worked out in the end. I had a bit of a shaky start, so it’s been nice to improve throughout the year and hopefully I can continue carrying out momentum.”
Pictured: Deivid Silva (BRA) at the Corona Saquarema Pro pres. by Banco do Brasil. Credit: WSL / Daniel Smorigo
Despite deteriorating conditions and steady rain throughout the day, the bank at Praia de Itaúna provided consistent scoring opportunities in every heat. In Heat 11 of the Round of 96, former CT surfer Deivid Silva (BRA) used his forehand to attack the lefthanders to earn the day’s highest single wave score of an 8.17 and advanced into the Round of 48 along with Frenchman Gatien Delahaye (FRA).
“This is a very important contest for a lot of athletes here, but I’m just trying to have fun,” said Deivid. “I’ve got all my family here and it keeps me grounded, but I’m super focused on getting a good result here in Brazil. I love Saquarema, the wave here is great, and I’m happy to make it out of the first round. It’s always the most stressful and it’s great to get the highest wave of the day.”As the onshore winds became even stronger in the afternoon, WSL Deputy Commissioner, Travis Logie, decided to call the competition off following the conclusion of Heat 16. Once competition is called back on, the current No. 2 ranked surfer on the Challenger Series, Rio Waida (IDN) will match up against Joan Duru (FRA), Shane Sykes (ZAF) and young Brazilian Heitor Mueller (BRA) in Round of 96, Heat 17.
REMAINING HEATS IN MEN’S ROUND of 96:
HEAT 17: Rio Waida (IDN) vs. Joan Duru (FRA) vs. Shane Sykes (ZAF) vs. Heitor Mueller (BRA)
HEAT 18: Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) vs. Keanu Asing (HAW) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA) vs. Wesley Leite (BRA)
HEAT 19: Imaikalani deVault (HAW) vs. Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Levi Slawson (USA) vs. Carlos Munoz (CRI)
HEAT 20: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Matheus Navarro (BRA) vs. Cam Richards (USA) vs. Gabriel Andre (BRA)
HEAT 21: Dylan Moffat (AUS) vs. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) vs. Eli Hanneman (HAW) vs. Weslley Dantas (BRA)
HEAT 22: Jacob Willcox (AUS) vs. Brodi Sale (HAW) vs. Thiago Camarao (BRA) vs. Ryan Kainalo (BRA)
HEAT 23: Lucca Mesinas (PER) vs. Nolan Rapoza (USA) vs. Shun Murakami (JPN) vs. Robson Santos (BRA)
HEAT 24: Samuel Pupo (BRA) vs. Mihimana Braye (PYF) vs. Chris Zaffis (AUS) vs. Eric Bahia (BRA)
UPCOMING WOMEN’s ROUND OF 64:
HEAT 1: Teresa Bonvalot (PRT) vs. Coco Ho (HAW) vs. Laura Raupp (BRA) vs. Bruna Carderelli (BRA)
HEAT 2: Keala Tomoda-Bannert (HAW) vs. Ariane Ochoa (EUK) vs. Sol Aguirre (PER) vs. Yanca Costa (BRA)
HEAT 3: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) vs. Sara Wakita (JPN) vs. Zoë Steyn (ZAF) vs. Maya Carpinelli (BRA)
HEAT 4: Kirra Pinkerton (USA) vs. Paige Hareb (NZL) vs. Shino Matsuda (JPN) vs. Nairê Marquez (BRA)
HEAT 5: Sawyer Lindblad (USA) vs. Mafalda Lopes (PRT) vs. Anne Dos Santos (BRA) vs. Kayane Reis (BRA)
HEAT 6: Vahine Fierro (FRA) vs. Minami Nonaka (JPN) vs. Natasha Van Greunen (ZAF) vs. Juliana Rodrigues (BRA)
HEAT 7: Rachel Presti (DEU) vs. Yolanda Hopkins (PRT) vs. Isabelle Nalu (BRA) vs. Silvana Lima (BRA)
HEAT 8: Molly Picklum (AUS) vs. Tessa Thyssen (FRA) vs. Pauline Ado (FRA)
HEAT 9: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) vs. Arena Rodriguez Vargas (PER) vs. Sophia Medina (BRA)
HEAT 10: Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) vs. Daniella Rosas (PER) vs. Freya Prumm (AUS) vs. Genesis Borja Garcia (ECU)
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)
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