Round 1 of the Oi Rio Women's Pro saw action-packed heats and battles of beachbreak savvy. As women's Jeep rankings leader Carissa Moore (HAW) commented, "It wasn't the best heat of my life, but I'm stoked to have made it."
She, along with other top seeds, made the most of the afternoon's bumpy conditions. Carrying her momentum from the Australian leg to Rio, Moore defeated Dimity Stoyle (AUS) and event wildcard Luana Coutinho (BRA). Despite her local knowledge, Coutinho struggled, scoring just 0.50 after appearing to wait for better waves that never arrived.
Instead, it was the less selective surfers who won the direct advance into Round 3: In the first heat of the day, South African goofyfooter Bianca Buitendag made the most of small lefthanders to surge ahead. In Heat 2, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) appeared to be relaxed and decisive, taking off on eight waves to assemble a modest but winning scoreline.
The single upset of the afternoon was at the hands of Keely Andrew (AUS), the injury replacement for Stephanie Gilmore (AUS). She took down World No. 4 Tyler Wright (AUS) and World No. 9 Coco Ho (HAW), each of whom will now have to battle again in the sudden-death matches of Round 2.
The end of the day saw Tour rookie Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) go up against relative Tour veterans Malia Manuel (HAW) and Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) in a shifting lineup. Manuel hustled, surfing 11 waves in total, and Van Dijk was slow and steady, with six. The rookie lagged, but in back half of the heat, everything changed: Weston-Webb found a 6.93 to grab the lead and didn't look back.
At this point in the season -- the fourth event -- her come-from-behind win wasn't surprising. So far, she has a third-place finish, a ninth-place finish and a fifth.
Tune in May 13 at 7 a.m. local time for the next call and more action when Round 2 kicks off. Plus, take the waves with you on the WSL App.