THE opening day of the Oi Rio Pro, stop number four on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), tested the elite field with challenging three-to-four (1-1.2) foot conditions at Itaúna Beach in Saquarema.
Despite a seven-hour hold after running the first three heats of women’s event, the tide improved the conditions enough to complete round one.
Culburra Beach’s Tyler Wright is off to a promising start for her third-straight event victory after defeating 2017 rookie of the year Bronte Macaulay (Australia) and 2018 CT Rookie Caroline Marks (US) in round one.
The two-time WSL Champion wanted to lock in strong scores in her opening matchup but, with limited opportunities on offer, was forced to settle for the win with only a 3.93 score (out of a possible 10) and a 3.60.
“I thought there was actually going to be a couple more waves than that,” Wright said.
“The plan was to try and start off really well with positioning and lineups.
“That kind of played into my favour towards the end.
“I really didn't think I would count the threes, but with the tide and the conditions that was okay.
“I am happy to move through a tricky heat.
“The next round should be interesting depending on what the conditions do.”
Gerroa’s Sally Fitzgibbons opened the day ready to do battle against compatriot Nikki Van Dijk (Australia) and Coco Ho (Hawaii).
The Australian superstar started the event with the leading score (a 5.83) to overtake her competitors and advance straight to round three.
“It was awesome to start the morning in heat one,” Fitzgibbons said.
“We’ve got some good offshore conditions. It is a little slow but it definitely has got some scoring potential.
“Although it is low scores, it is still super exciting because you do not know what is going to happen next.
“Jumping into round three is a huge advantage, and I’ll be prepared come round three.”
Oi Rio Women’s Pro round one results:
Heat one: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 10.00, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 9.23, Coco Ho (HAW) 8.10
Heat two: Tyler Wright (AUS) 7.53, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 3.67, Caroline Marks (USA) 1.80
Heat three: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 8.60, Malia Manuel (HAW) 8.40, Taís Almeida (BRA) 6.17
Heat four: Lakey Peterson (USA) 11.60, Sage Erickson (USA) 6.17, Pauline Ado (FRA) 5.93
Heat five: Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.67, Paige Hareb (NZL) 11.97, Silvana Lima (BRA) 7.40
Heat six: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 13.16, Keely Andrew (AUS) 7.30, Johanne Defay (FRA) 5.80
Oi Rio Women’s Pro round two matchups:
Heat one: Sage Erickson (USA) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat two: Silvana Lima (BRA) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat three: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs.Taís Almeida (BRA)
Heat four: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) vs. Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat five: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Paige Hareb (NZL)
Heat six: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Keely Andrew (AUS)