The MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, the penultimate stop on the 2019 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), resumed in three-to-four foot clean waves at Supertubos to complete the Rounds of 16 and determine the women’s and men’s Quarterfinalists.
The day did not go without its share of drama as World Title contenders Filipe Toledo (BRA), Kolohe Andino (USA) and Jordy Smith (ZAF) won their heats, while Jeep Frontrunner Gabriel Medina (BRA) was eliminated in the R/16 after an interference in his heat against Caio Ibelli (BRA). Carissa Moore(HAW) still leads the pack but Americans Lakey Peterson and Caroline Marks continue their pursuit with wins today in the Round of 16.
Two-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) had his R/16 heat in the bag with two big scores against Caio Ibelli (BRA) and conditions favored the Jeep Leader’s dynamic style and aerial prowess. Nobody could ever doubt the result of that heat, until the 9-minute mark when both surfers paddled for the same wave and a priority interference was called on Medina, turning the heat right around. Ibelli still had to work a little harder to overtake Medina’s single highest score of 8.17 (out of a possible 10) but eventually found the winning ride to eliminate his compatriot in Equal 9th for the second time after France.
“I went right on a wave before and I think he went left,” Ibelli explained. “I think I reached the lineup before him but further down the beach, and I got the priority. Once we met in the lineup again he was really close to me, I saw that I had priority so I paddled hard for that wave. I know he doesn’t do that kind of mistake so when I stood up on that wave I started to question myself. For me, Gabriel (Medina) is the best surfer in the world and I look up to him so much, I have so much respect for him. Surfing wise he definitely won that heat but luckily everything went my way.”
World No. 2 Filipe Toledo (BRA) posted another major performance despite openly discussing recurring back pains and by advancing into the Quarterfinals, forced the men’s World Title decision to the last stop on tour, the Billabong Pipe Masters, in Hawaii this December. The Brasilian dismantled a little right with turns and then went to his aerial repertoire to seal the deal on a Quarterfinal berth.
“I’m watching all the heats and it’s showing the title scenarios so of course I’m aware of the situation,” said Toledo. “My back still hurts sometimes and I just give everything I have out there, and try to be strategic if I’m not 100%. I actually felt pretty loose and confident out there today, it’s pro Unaware of the drama that would unfold later on this afternoon, Kolohe Andino (USA) and Jordy Smith (ZAF) advanced through the first two heats of their round and will have a chance to close the gap slightly with Medina when Finals Day rolls in. Both surfers also continue to chase an elusive event win this season and they will meet in one of the most anticipated Quarterfinal matchups when the event resumes.
“Those other guys have really good results so I think it’s going to take a win from me and maybe even another one at Pipe,” said Smith. “I’ve been relatively consistent but at the end of the day you need those wins.”
bably the first time since the event started. I’m happy to push the title to Hawaii, I feel like it’s going to make things more interesting for everyone and also give me a little more time to recover.”
Carissa Moore (HAW), Lakey Peterson (USA), Caroline Marks (USA), and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) all advanced into the Quarterfinals, keeping the 2019 World Title race as close and interesting as ever. Courtney Conlogue(USA) was the only Top 8 surfer who couldn’t advance past the Round of 16 as the world’s best set up amazing Quarterfinal battles and kept the World Title race drama running high in Portugal.
Jeep Leader Moore has had an unbelievably consistent season with no result worse than a Quarterfinal finish, which also means she needs to advance into the Semis at least if she wants to continue to distance herself from her opponents.
“I’m just trying to keep it happy and free and positive and having such a great support system here on the ground and at home helps so much,” said Moore. “There’s definitely a lot of talk about the title race but like I said before I’m realistic with expectations and I expect it to go to Maui. Lakey (Peterson), Caroline (Marks) and Sally (Fitzgibbons) all want it and they’re all fired up so there’s no taking my foot off the pedal.”
Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) and Johanne Defay (FRA) have qualified through the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) to represent Brasil and France, respectively, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
By advancing to the Quarterfinals at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, Weston-Webb and Defay are guaranteed to finish within the Top 8 of the WSL Rankings and have earned their provisional places to compete in Tokyo.
“I am so excited to represent Brasil and be the first surfer qualified from Brasil,” said Weston-Webb. “It is a huge honor and I am at a loss for words. I’m so proud of representing Brasil, it’s my birthplace and it’s where my heart lies, taking nothing away from where I grew up which really made me the surfer than I am today. The Olympics was always a dream of mine when I was younger, but I knew it was not possible as a surfer. But now, because surfing is a part of the Olympics, I got the spot because I am in the Top 10 on the CT. I remember watching the Olympics with my mom and she would say, ‘Dream big honey because anything is possible,’ and now that is coming true.”
When the official competition wrapped up for the day at Supertubos, the “Unwanted Shapes by MEO” specialty heat took to the lineup to raise global awareness for the plastic shapes nobody wants to see in the ocean. International stars Conner Coffin (USA) and Brisa Hennessy (CRI) as well as Portuguese legend Frederico Morais (PRT) and up-and-comers Afonso Antunes (PRT) and Mafalda Lopes (PRT) rode special boards made from domestic plastic waste (water bottles, plastic bags, various packagings, straws, etc) in the “Beat Plastics” heat. The initiative led by the event title sponsor MEO is part of the brand’s ongoing commitment to raising awareness on global issues.
“We all know plastics in the ocean is terrible and we just need to do something about it,” said Morais. “This is a cause that MEO has been supporting for a while now. The slogan is ‘Beat the plastic waste’ and it’s really cool. We professional surfers live in the ocean so being able to help the cause is super cool and hopefully we can touch some hearts and minds and help change opinions and old habits. I’m trying to change mine, it’s not always easy but we all have to really try our best.'”
The next call for the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal will be tomorrow morning, October 21, at 8 a.m. WEST (GMT+1) for a possible 8:35 a.m. start at Supertubos.