With a come-from-behind win in the Quiksilver Pro Saquarema Final, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) earned 10,000 points toward his Qualifying Series (QS) ranking. Ribeiro is now the top-ranked non-Championship Tour (CT) on the QS, allowing him to claim the final wildcard spot for the Oi Rio Pro, Stop No. 4 on the CT.
Entering the contest at No. 57 on the QS, Ribeiro needed to win the event to overcome Jack Freestone (AUS) for the wildcard. After trailing Jeremy Flores (FRA) in the Final, Ribeiro earned an excellent-range score on his last ditch effort to win the heat 14.93 to 14.17.
"I was relaxed going into the Final because I thought I had already gotten the wildcard spot for the CT in Rio, but then someone told me that I had to win the event to get it, so I was very focused on getting the victory," Ribeiro said. "I knew that if a good wave came, I knew I could get the score. I'm stoked that my strategy worked out. I'm so happy I'm in second on the QS and I get to compete in the CT too. It's a lot of excitement for just one day."
Flores, currently ranked 13th on the CT rankings, has been on a torrid streak in May. He started off the month with a second-place finish at the first QS 10,000 of the year, the Oakley Lowers Pro, in California. After falling to Filipe Toledo (BRA) at Trestles, the experienced Frenchman quickly packed his bags for the long flight to Brazil for the Quiksilver Pro Saquarema. Flores showed solid form throughout the competition for another substantial result at Praia de Itauna.
"It's very difficult to reach the Finals, but I was a little disappointed that I didn't win," said Flores. "I got two great results against an incredible group of talented surfers in the last two events. I feel good, my boards feel great, my head's in a good place and I'm healthy, so I'm stoked and ready to compete in Rio de Janeiro during the next few weeks."
Results at Saquarema have shaken up on the WSL QS rankings once again. Only surfers ranked in the Top 10 at the end of the year will qualify for the 2016 elite Tour. In addition to Ribeiro, three new surfers have moved into eligible positions: Ryan Callinan (AUS), Caio Ibelli (BRA) and Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI). Michael Rodrigues (BRA), Michael Dunphy (USA), Wade Carmichael (AUS) and Charly Martin (GLP) have dropped out of the Top 10.
Ribeiro will face three-time World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) and CT rookie Italo Ferreira (BRA) in Round 1 of the Oi Rio Pro. The heat will see a rematch of the Round 4 heat between Ribeiro and Ferreira at Saquarema.