- WSL / Marcio David

Sophia Medina (BRA), younger sister of the 3-time WSL World Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA), has clinched her maiden WSL South America Regional Title for the 2021-22 season. Her title was confirmed after making it through to the Quarterfinals on Friday at Praia Mole on Day 3 of the LayBack Pro presented by Prefeitura de Florianópolis.

"I don't even know what to say because it still hasn't sunk in, but I'm incredibly happy," said a visibly emotional Medina. "I had no idea that I had a chance of clinching the Title if I advanced in that heat, so it was really exciting. I really want to thank God, because without him I wouldn't be here. But I trained extremely hard and luckily, I was able to reap the fruits through my work, together with my Dad, my Mom, my coach and my entire family. I'd also like to thank all my sponsors for believing in me and now I'm off to the Challenger!"

16-year-old Sophia's feat even surpasses her older brother, who won his first of two Regional Championships at the age of 17 in 2011. Her current 4,000-point rankings total guaranteed her title after earning 500 points at the LayBack Pro held at Praia Mole in November 2021, plus 3000 points from her victory at the Saquarema Surf Festival last year, added to her current 500 points from this year's LayBack Pro event.

Sophia Medina An ecstatic Sophia Medina (BRA) at Praia Mole - WSL / Marcio David

On a chilly day with overcast skies and intermittent rain showers, Medina dominated her heat in the challenging 2-foot waves at Praia Mole, leading throughout to earn a 12.74 heat total. Yanca Costa (BRA) advanced into the Quarterfinals in 2nd place, eliminating Gabriely Vasque (BRA) and Isabela Saldanha (BRA). Medina's goal now is to leave Florianópolis with her second QS victory.

"I'm super stoked with this title, but I know I still need to remain focused, because there are still a few heats to go before the Finals, because once you enter a competition, the goal is to win. So, there's still a long road ahead, but God willing, everything will happen just right," completed Medina.

Sophia Medina Sophia Medina (BRA) advanced to the Quarterfinals at Praia Mole. - WSL / R Alves

Another young Brazilian surfer that has the same goal in mind is the defending event winner, Laura Raupp (BRA). Last year, at 15 years of age, in front of her hometown crowd, Raupp won the first WSL Qualifying Series contest she ever competed in. Despite looking out of rhythm today, Raupp displayed her powerful surfing to leap from last to first after earning an excellent 8-point ride. In addition, Raupp also guaranteed her spot in the 2022 Challenger Series events by reaching the Quarterfinals.

"I'm really pleased, not only with making it onto the Challenger, but the way I did it by finding that wave in such a tough heat," said Raupp. "It was frustrating because it seemed like the waves were avoiding me, while all the other girls kept catching wave after wave. That's when I decided to paddle away from everyone and thankfully, that's when that wave popped up. When I dropped in, I knew it was a good one and I was able to let loose and do some good turns. I'm glad that I advanced and now I look forward to the next one tomorrow."

Laura Raupp Defending event winner Laura Raupp (BRA) clinched a spot on the 2022 Challenger Series. - WSL / Marcio David

In Heat 1 of the Women's QS 1000 Quarterfinals at Praia Mole, the two-time WSL South America Champion, Daniela Rosas (PER) will be faced up against the powerful Brazilian Juliana Santos (BRA). In Heat 2, Raupp will match up against Kiany Hyakutake (BRA). Heat 3 will see Yanca Costa (BRA) against newcomer Maya Carpinelli (BRA), and the final matchup will be Sophia Medina against Summer Macedo (BRA), who is looking to clinch the final regional spot for the Challenger Series.

Earlier in the day the Round of 64 was completed at the Men's QS 1000 at the LayBack Pro. Former Championship Tour athlete and local Praia Mole surfer, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) surpassed the event's records by scoring a 16.33 heat total which included a 9-point ride by landing a spectacular stalefish full rotation air that brought cheers from the fans and athletes alike.

"I almost never land that air during my freesurfs, but I felt super comfortable right before I went for it and it felt so good after I landed it," said Rodrigues. "I've been feeling super relaxed since I'm surfing at home and I already clinched my spot for the Challenger Series, which was my goal from the start. I didn't even surf last week because I was so busy trying to get everything ready for Australia. Last year I felt like I didn't take advantage because I was just so focused on getting a good result. But now I can take a step back and really enjoy it all. I've been living here for 10 years now, and I practically surf every day here at Praia Mole, so I hope to get even higher scores before the end of the event," stated Rodrigues.

Michael Rodrigues Michael Rodrigues (BRA) on one of several airs he landed at Praia Mole - WSL / Marcio David

The race for the final positions of the Men's 2022 Challenger series continues to heat up with Jesse Mendes (BRA) and Wesley Leite (BRA) still vying for qualification via their results at Praia Mole. Tune in tomorrow for what should be another exciting day of surfing at the LayBack Pro presented by Prefeitura de Florianópolis. A call is set for 8:00 am local time for the Men's Round of 32. Watch LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com

The LayBack Pro presented by Prefeitura de Florianópolis presents is brought to you by the Santa Catarina Surf Federation (FECASURF), Agência Esporte & Arte (AEA) as co-organizer and is licensed by WSL Latin America as part of the WSL Qualifying Series. The event is sponsored by Metha Energia, with support from BOLD, SIBON Charters, Goedert Group, Hotel Selina, The Search House, the Florianopolis Municipal Sports Foundation and the City of Florianópolis, through the Department of Culture, Sports and Leisure, in addition to the Praia Mole Surf Association (ASPM) and website Waves. The broadcast is produced by FIRMA and can be watched LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com.

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