- WSL / Luiz Blanco

Brazilian Valentine's Day may have been last weekend, but surfing's latest power couple, Summer Macedo (BRA) and João Chianca (BRA) celebrated in spectacular fashion on Saturday as they took out the World Surf League (WSL) Men's and Women's QS 1000 Layback Pro Rio at the ecological sanctuary of Prainha, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was Macedo's maiden Qualifying Series victory, defeating an in-form Daniella Rosas (PER) in the Women's Final. Chianca, who had stellar performances on the 2022 Championship Tour prior to the mid-season cut, overcame Edgard Groggia (BRA) in a nail-biting Men's QS 1000 Final.

Macedo got some payback today having lost do Rosas in QS Finals twice before. Once in Salinas, Ecuador in 2021 and the last being at the LayBack Pro held earlier in the year in Florianópolis, Brazil. The loss in Floripa had greater implications, leaving Macedo outside the cut for the 2022 Challenger Series by one spot. Macedo later was given an invitation to compete in the opening events in Australia, but was unable to advance in her heats.

"I've spent so much time here in Rio, and honestly, I had no motivation coming into this contest. I had no expectations on myself after Australia and just had a hard time mentally from not doing as well as I wanted to, so I was just searching for a fresh start," said an emotional Macedo. "I'm just so incredibly happy with this win. I've never won a QS event before. I've made 7 or 8 QS Finals, but never won. But today was my day and I just want to thank everyone for all the support through this journey and a special thanks to my dad, who's birthday was yesterday, this one's for him," ended Macedo as she fought back tears.

Summer Macedo Summer Macedo (BRA) earned her first QS victory at the LayBack Pro Rio at Prainha in Rio de Janeiro. - WSL / Luiz Blanco

With a diminishing swell, event organizers opted to finish the LayBack Pro Rio one day earlier than scheduled. The Women's Final was held in rippable 1-3 foot waves on the righthanders at Prainha with moderate offshore winds helping to keep the wave faces clean. Macedo got off to a quick start with a 4.70 and followed with a 5.93 for a 10.63 total. Rosas countered with a 4.33 and a 6.17 for a 10.50 total. As a lull swept in, both surfers had to battle for positioning, but with no significant sets coming through, Macedo was able to clinch her first victory on the Qualifying Series.

Summer Macedo and Daniella Rosas Women's QS Finalists: Summer Macedo (BRA) and Daniella Rosas - WSL / Luiz Blanco

Macedo's boyfriend, João Chianca (BRA), had his own demons to face after putting on some of the most thrilling performances on the 2022 Championship Tour, especially against John John Florence (HAW) in high scoring matches at Pipeline and Bells Beach. Despite his efforts, Chianca was unable to make it past the mid-season cut and was relegated to the Challenger Series. Chianca also had poor results in Australia and had his sights on the event in Rio as a moment to reset.

Chianca looked sharp all week at Prainha, winning heats and earning high scores in each Round. His opponent in the Finals was Edgard Groggia (BRA), who is currently also competing on the 2022 Challenger Series and was another standout surfer at the LayBack Pro Rio.

The Men also had to face challenging conditions, with small waves and inconsistent sets. Both athletes started off with mid-range scores. Chianca then found a series of rights, including his best scores of a 6.63 and a 7.50 for a 14.13 total. Groggia found a ride for a 6.50, but was unable to find a decent backup score, finishing off with a 12.17 total. The crowd at Prainha rushed to chair up the Saquarema local Chianca, who was elated with his result.

"I entered this contest and I told myself just to trust my instincts and intuition," said Chianca. "I just wanted to do things correctly and I feel like I learned a lot from my time on the CT, where I feel like I committed a lot of mistakes. Ever since I dropped off, I've been incredibly sad, but you just have to keep your head up and I've been really focused on my surfing and preparation. There's still a big future ahead of me and a win is certainly a step in the right direction."

Joao Chianca João Chianca (BRA) was explosive all week long at the LayBack Pro Rio at Prainha in Rio de Janeiro. - WSL / Luiz Blanco

Chianca also talked about his upcoming participation as an Event Wildcard at the Oi Rio Pro presented by Corona at his hometown in Saquarema.

"Competing at the CT at home is a dream come true and I'm sure it'll be a great experience to surf on the big stage in front of my friends and family. So hopefully, today will be a dress rehearsal for the next few weeks," continued Chianca.

He also commented on his girlfriend's performance and her first victory on the WSL Qualifying Series.

"Oh she definitely deserves it. She's been close several times, so I think it was her resilience to keep pushing that got her over the hump. It's like life, it's not always going to be easy, but if your committed, the results will come. So we both deserve to celebrate today," completed Chianca.

Summer Macedo and João Chianca Summer Macedo (BRA and João Chianca (BRA) took the day's top honors at the LayBack. Both shared a special moment after Chianca's victory in Rio de Janeiro. - WSL / Luiz Blanco

The LayBack Pro Rio was produced by Agência Esporte & Arte (AEA) and sanctioned by WSL Latin America to run this stage of the WSL Qualifying Series. The event was approved by the FESERJ (Rio de Janeiro State Surfing Federation), and is presented by Bar 399 and sponsored by the City of Rio de Janeiro, Corona and Metha Energia; with additional support from ASAP (Association of Surfers and Friends of Prainha), BOLD Snacks, Orla Rio, Monster Energy, RIOZEN Toyota and Waves.com.br. The event was broadcast by FIRMA and more information is available at WorldSurfLeague.com

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