South African surfer had several strong years on the women's Championship Tour before falling off the Tour at the end of last year. But at the Oi Rio Women's Pro, she's back, surfing as an injury replacement, and so far has been making her mark. In Round Three, she faced perennial powerhouse Courtney Conlogue and good friend, Johanne Defay, but out-surfed them both for the win, and a direct jump to the Quarterfinals.
Buitendag's Rio CT appearance isn't her first this year; she last competed at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, but lost there in Round Two. Here in Saquarema she's already done some damage, handing Carissa Moore her earliest defeat in seven years. And while fans may be wondering if she's vying for a spot back on the CT next year, with characteristic humility when asked about it on the broadcast, she demurred.
"I'm in a bit of an awkward situation," she told Kaipo Guerrera. "Because I'm an injury replacement, it's someone else's misfortune for me to be here, so I take it as it comes."