Four exciting Finals culminated with Mateus Herdy (BRA) and Tainá Hinckel (BRA) winning the inaugural Oi Pro Junior Series, while Chloé Calmon (BRA) and Piccolo Clemente (PER) won their respective divisions at the Oi Longboard Pro at Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro on Mother's Day.
Mateus Herdy was on another level during the competition and looks to be an eventual threat for a spot on the Championship Tour (CT). His surfing adapted to the ever-changing conditions at Barra - mixing in powerful turns on the wave face with a technical air-game to match. Coming into the event as the reigning WSL Pro Junior Champion, Herdy lived up to expectations and defeated the explosive young surfer from São Paulo, Daniel Adisaka (BRA) by a score of 12.00 to 11.75 in an exciting Final.
"That was a really difficult Final because Daniel (Adisaka) has been ripping and he started the heat off really well," declared Herdy, "With the tide and the wind, it was hard to find good waves, but everything ended up working out and I got the win which was my goal coming in here."
The Final began with Adisaka taking a commanding lead with a 6.50 and a 5.25 backup for an 11.75 total. Herdy however, started chipping away with impressive, but uncompleted aerial maneuvers. He then found a lefthander in which he threw consecutive backhand snaps in the pocket to earn a 6.25. In the dying minutes, the young surfer from Florianopolis tore apart another left with an air reverse on the end section for a 5.50 and the lead which Adisaka could not overcome.
"Even though he had a big lead, I knew I could've gotten some good scores if I had landed those airs. But I caught that left as a keeper and then that backup for the win. I think all my hard work and training has really paid off and it showed in that Final. I intend to compete at all the Junior Tour events in South America and try to win the title since it's my last year of eligibility," completed Herdy.
The Final in the Women's division turned out to be a battle of WSL South America Pro Junior Champions with the 2017 & 2018 title winner Sol Aguirre (PER) facing up against the 2016 champion, Tainá Hinckel. Both athletes suffered from a lull in the swell providing few opportunities for the Peru vs. Brazil matchup.
However, in the dying minutes, Hinckel found a punchy lefthander where she landed a powerful backside maneuver off a close-out section for a 9.00 total to defeat Aguirre at the first-ever Oi Pro Junior Series contest.
"I'm over the moon with this victory and I feel especially blessed today," Hinckel said. "I think the biggest lesson I learned at this contest was to believe in myself and my abilities. Even during those last minutes without any waves, I felt like things would go my way. Daniela (Rosas) didn't paddle for that last one, and even though it was small, I just knew that I could get a score on it. I've been focusing a lot on not just the physical, but the mental aspect of surfing as well and I feel like this contest made all that prep come to fruition. I definitely want to become the WSL South America Champion again this year, but I'm not going to be overly serious about it and want to have fun along the way," declared Hinckel.
The Oi Pro Junior Series event in Rio de Janeiro is the first of four Junior Tour contests that will be held throughout Brazil. The next stop on the Series will be in Salvador, Bahia from July 12 - 14 followed by an event in Florianópolis from October 11 - 13 before finishing off in Maresias, São Paulo from November 8 - 10.
Running in conjunction with the Oi Pro Junior Series in Rio de Janeiro and Maresias is the Oi Longboard Pro which brings together the top-talent coming out of South America. The Final Day of competition saw current WSL Longboard Tour rankings leader Chloé Calmon (BRA) take the win as did the two-time WSL World Longboard Champion, Piccolo Clemente (PER).
Local surfer Calmon defeated Maria Fernanda Reyes (PER) in front of her hometown crowd on the sands of Barra da Tijuca. Calmon put the Peruvian on the ropes after earning an excellent scoring ride of a 9.00 to cement her victory.
"It was a good Final, but what made it extra special was winning here at home," Calmon said. "I surf against Maria a lot at events and it's always tough competition against her. We were going back-and-forth those last ten minutes. But I fought hard in all of my heats and I'm so stoked to get this win here in Rio. I'm going to do my best to win the South American title this year."
In the Men's division, Piccolo Clemente was seen as a candidate for the event win because of his seasoned, veteran approach to competitive surfing. The stylish Peruvian made it look easy on the difficult 2-foot waves at Barra da Tijuca on his way to victory over Alexandre Escobar (BRA) by a score of 13.75 to 9.15 respectively.
"This is my first victory in Brazil and it makes me feel so happy," said the 3-time WSL South America Longboard Champion. "The last time I came here for an event was in 2010, so it feels great to be back. I've spent so many years competing against Brazilians like Phil Rajzman, Jefson Silva and so many other friends. It was great seeing all of them here. I want to dedicate this win to my wife and all the mothers in Peru. I'll definitely come back for the event in Maresias and a chance to win my fourth regional title."