The final day of competition of the WSL Men's QS 3,000 Red Nose São Sebastião Pro culminated in exciting fashion in front of a packed beach at Praia de Maresias that witnessed Yago Dora (BRA) defeat Jesse Mendes (BRA) by a score of 13.03 to 10.83 respectively. Dora's uncanny ability in the air earned him several scores in the excellent range which led him straight to the winner's podium.
"It feels so great to win this event here in Brazil because I've never won a contest like this in front of the Brazilian fans," said Dora. "It was too bad that conditions changed during the Final and we didn't get the same types of waves we were getting earlier, but I'm definitely stoked I got the win."
Yago was in complete sync with the waves throughout the day which gave him perfect opportunities to go big when he really needed it.
"Maresias has always been a place I've loved coming to, but have never gotten a good result. Despite that, I've always had a good connection with the waves here and it's a place I love. To win my first contest in Brazil here makes it even more special," concluded Dora.
The Final began at a sluggish pace with both surfers taking to the air, yet no one was able to complete a landing until way past the midway mark. That's when Dora boosted a huge air for an 8.50 and a solid lead over Mendes. Needing a 7.04 to take the lead, Mendes did his best on the last wave of the heat but only scored a 4.83.
"I was stoked to make the Final, but it was too bad the tide dropped so low and the waves started to close out more," said Jesse Mendes. "It made it hard to find some good ones but Yago found a decent ramp and was able to pull off that big air at the end. The waves were really fun all week, I was able to drop a low score from my QS rankings and now I can head to Hawaii feeling a bit more confident."
The local siblings from Maresias, Miguel and Samuel Pupo (BRA) were hometown favorites and were heavily cheered by the crowds throughout the week. Miguel won the event in Maresias in 2015, propelling him to a spot back on the CT while Sammy recently clinched the 2018 WSL South America Pro Junior title in Peru a few weeks back. With momentum on their side, the came into the Red Nose São Sebastião Pro looking to make the local crowd proud.
Seeded on opposite sides of the heat draw, expectations began to rise as the brothers continued to advance throughout the week. When the decision was made to finish competition on Saturday, everyone at the event couldn't help but think about a Pupo vs Pupo Final. When both reached the Semifinals, anticipation reached a climax. However, fate was not on their side as both were eliminated by the Finalists.
"My goal was to get to the Final and win the contest, but Jesse surfed really well and deserved to win," said Samuel Pupo, who now heads to Taiwan for the WSL World Pro Junior Championship. "This was my last contest before going to Taiwan and I feel like I'm one of the favorites after winning the WSL South American Title. I think the wave there suits my surfing well and I hope to win the title there. Of course, it would have been amazing to have a Final with my brother, but it just wasn't meant to be."
Another important moment in the day came when Wesley Santos (BRA) became the 2018 WSL South America Regional Champion. The rankings leader Alonso Correa (PER) opted to compete in Hawaii rather than Maresias and paid a hefty price as Santos earned a Round 5 result to clinch the title. Santos now has automatic entry into all QS 10,000 and QS 6,000 rated events in 2019.
"It's difficult to express the emotions that I'm going through right now. It's the first title I've ever won in my career as a professional and to do it with the WSL makes it even more special," declared a visibly emotional Santos. "It's been a long year. I won the event in Argentina and competed in some events with really big waves, which isn't my strong suit. But I tried to expand my abilities and it paid off to take some risks. After my last heat finished, I felt extremely tense and I was much more worried about the title than advancing in the contest. All I wanted was to finish in 3rd place and guarantee this title which is so important to my career. This is for everyone that's always believed in me, that's never forgotten about me and for my entire family, this is for you!"