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Oi Rio Pro Aftermath: 5 Fresh Lessons

A local hero, a new surfing wundergrom, two tight World Title races getting even tighter and those fans. The move to Saquarema can be counted as an unqualified success as consistent surf, soccer-style crowds and Adriano de Souza's win made the Oi Rio Pro both memorable and pivotal. On Finals Day we dined out on an epic day of professional surfing. Yet, like any quality banquet, there are some leftovers to package up and bring to work for lunch. Tuck in the napkin, clear the schedule and take a look at five takeaways from the Oi Rio Pro:

1.) Old age and treachery
"Experience is a comb which nature gives us when we are bald," goes the proverb. Well, not at the Oi Rio Pro. From the very first heat on Finals Day, when veteran Joel Parkinson sold Wiggolly Dantas a lemon of a wave with five minutes to go, then capitalized with a rare tube to win, it seemed the lineup and the pressure was best handled by experience. "Wiggs will be kicking himself. He played defense a little too early," said Parko afterwards. "We've all made those mistakes in our career and you learn from them." The average age of the Quarterfinalists was well above 30 and that was with 20-year-old Yago Dora doing his bit to drag the median down. Two thirtysomethings contested the Final and no rookie made it past Round Three. In Brazil, the quote that old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance, did come true.

Parko Makes Wiggolly Pay
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In his Round Five battle against powerful Brazilian Wiggolly Dantas, Joel Parkinson took over the lead with this wave.

2.) Julian and Jordy: Is there a problem with pressure?
The Round Five matchup between Julian and Jordy was billed as potentially key in deciding the entire event. However, it proved anticlimactic as Julian surfed one of the more forgettable heats of his career. He waited a good 15 minutes for his first wave and then paddled and failed to take off. It was a psychological error that scarred his heat and stopped any chance of him getting back in touch with the ratings leaders. That mistake then gave Jordy the opportunity to grab the Yellow Jersey, until his defeat in the Quarterfinals. Sure, he still lies in equal second on the Jeep Leaderboard, a measly 350 points off the lead, but this was a chance to make a big statement and the South African failed to take it.

Jordy Smith of South Africa advances to the Quarterfinals of the Oi Rio Pro after winning Heat 3 of Round Five at Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Jordy contemplative post heat. WSL / Daniel Smorigo

3.) Wilko cements his transformation from clown prince to class act
If there were any thoughts that 2016 was just an upward swing in the yo-yoing career of Matt Wilkinson, to be followed by the inevitable gravity-fueled plunge back to Earth, Wilko has dispelled them. The hard work, a missing element early in his career, continued through the off-season. A Final at Snapper and a third place at Oi Rio Pro has him entrenched back in the Top 5 on the Jeep Leaderboard. His Quarterfinal win over Owen Wright was a masterclass in patience and poise, his new composure providing a platform for his natural flair.

Matt Wilkinson of Australia advances to the Quarterfinals of the Oi Rio Pro after winning Heat 4 of Round Five at Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Matt Wilkinson powering to World No. 4. WSL / Daniel Smorigo

4.) Brazil won the battle, but who will win the war?
When Ace Buchan won the third Quarterfinal over Jordy Smith the draw had been cleft in two. On one side was Brazil -- all passion and progression -- led by De Souza and Dora. On the other side was Australia -- with the goofyfooters of Wilkinson, Buchan and Wright -- fighting the flair with clinical flow. The two nations are now evenly matched as superpowers of the sport, providing 21 of the top 32 CT surfers. But on home soil, backed by the most ferocious crowd in surfing, it was Adriano de Souza and Brazil that came out on top. They won this battle, the question is: Will they win the war?

Adriano de Souza of Brazil is the 2017 Oi Rio Pro Champion after defeating Adrian Buchan (AUS) in the final at Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. ADS, literally, flying the flag. WSL / Damien Poullenot

5.) Tyler Wright grinds her way to the top
It was always going to be difficult for Tyler Wright to replicate her dominance from last year, where she won half of the ten events on Tour. In 2017 she has been slowly grinding through the gears, consistent, but never dominant. In Brazil she lost both non-elimination rounds and at various times was close to an early exit. Yet she dug deep and when it came to the Finals, she showed the authority that overwhelmed all her opponents last year. She now goes into the Outerknown Fiji Women's Pro sharing the Yellow Jersey with Steph Gilmore at a wave she loves. It's taken a little time, but this win could easily provide a platform for the defense of her World Title.

Tyler Wright (AUS) placed 1st in Quarters Three at OI RIO PRO 2017 Wright wrangling her way to the top. WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot
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