- WSL / Daniel Smorigo

The Men's QS5000 and Pro Junior Semfinalists have been determined at the World Surf League (WSL) Saquarema Surf Festival in Memory of Leo Neves and presented by Prefeitura de Saquarema. Miguel Tudela (PER) continued his impeccable 2022 Qualifying Series (QS) campaign by guaranteeing a spot in the Semifinals. Tudela has won the three regional events he has entered this year and has taken another step closer to qualifying for the 2023 Challenger Series with his feat today.

"I'm ecstatic and Saquarema is a very special place for me. I've been having an incredible year, I've had the opportunity to pick and choose which waves I want to surf and which events I want to compete in, so it's been amazing," said Tudela. "I went to Ecuador, then Chile and now I'm here for this event that's been really fun. I'd like to congratulate all the surfers for their performances and the new crop of talent that's coming up. And it's not just from Brazil, but from all of Latin America with great surfers from Peru, Venezuela, Argentina and Chile," concluded Tudela.

Miguel Tudela Miguel Tudela (PER) at the Saquarema Surf Festival at Praia de Itaúna. - WSL / Daniel Smorigo

Tudela will now face Ryan Kainalo (BRA) in the Semifinals, which will be a rematch of the Finals the two competitors had in the Galapagos Islands. 16-year-old Kainalo is part of the latest group of Brazilian athletes that has been garnering interest from the surf community.

"The Semis against Tudela is going to be exciting, it'll be very high-performance, so I'll try my hardest," said Kainalo. "The heat I had against Weslley Dantas was super important and I feel like I did well by getting a high-score, but I still haven't landed any big airs yet. Hopefully tomorrow will be the day and I can make it to the Finals on Sunday."

Ryan Kainalo Ryan Kainalo (BRA) surfing during the Pro Junior division at the Saquarema Surf Festival at Praia de Itaúna. - WSL / Daniel Smorigo

In the other Semifinal, high-flying Edgard Groggia (BRA) will face local hero João Chianca (BRA) in a matchup for crucial ranking points. Chianca, who is heavily supported by his hometown crowd, has been excelling at Praia de Itaúna.

"Conditions have changed a lot since yesterday, but I knew that the rights would be going off today, so that was my strategy," said Chianca, who had a runner-up finish at the 2021 edition of the Saquarema Surf Festival. "My equipment has been on point, I feel confident surfing here at home and my mindset has been positive as well. It's an honor to be surfing at this event in memory of Leo Neves, all my friends and family are here, so I'm looking for another solid result."

João Chianca Local surfer João Chianca (BRA) at the Saquarema Surf Festival at Praia de Itaúna. - WSL / Daniel Smorigo

Men's Pro Junior

In the Men's Pro Junior division, two rounds of competition were completed, and the Semifinalists have been determined. Gabriel Klaussner (BRA) was the standout surfer of the day and in one heat earned an 8.50 and an 8.00 on his two best waves for a 16.50 total (out of a possible 20 points), setting the record for the highest heat total of the event so far.

"It's pretty unbelievable how I was all alone in my heat when those lefts came to me. I was able to really let loose with my surfing and was able to get those high scores," said Klaussner. "I had seen those lefts breaking in the prior heat and they had a great wall to them, so that was my strategy since the start."

Gabriel Klaussner Gabriel Klaussner (BRA) earned the highest heat total of the event on Day 5 of the Saquarema Surf Festival at Praia de Itaúna. - WSL / Daniel Smorigo

Klaussner will now face some stiff competition from the likes of local surfer Daniel Templar (BRA), the defending 2022 WSL South America Pro Junior Champion Cauã Costa (BRA), and the current Pro Junior rankings leader, Heitor Mueller (BRA).

"It was super important for me to advance in my last heat because I'm leading the rankings and I wanted to maintain my position here," said Mueller. "Conditions deteriorated a lot this afternoon, but as I always say, ‘if it's not good for one, it's not good for anybody'. I'm really focused and ready for tomorrow. My goal is to qualify for the World Junior Championships."

Heitor Mueller Heitor Mueller (BRA) at the Saquarema Surf Festival at Praia de Itaúna. - WSL / Daniel Smorigo

A call is set for 8:00 AM (GMT-3) on Saturday and will commence with the Women's QS5000. The first heat of the day will be a clash between the Hawaiian-Brazilians Luana Silva (BRA) and Summer Macedo (BRA).

The Saquarema Surf Festival in memory of Leo Neves is licensed by WSL Latin America to 213 Sports as a Qualifying Series event and includes WSL South America regional qualifiers for the Junior and Longboard World Championships. The event is presented by the City of Saquarema and is sponsored by 51 ICE, Stanley, Surf Trip, Quiksilver, ROXY, Oakley, Layback Beer; in addition to the support of Monster Energy, New Era, Australian Gold, Bold Snacks, Castelhana Praia Hotel; with media partnerships from Ricosurf.com, Waves, Lance!, Rádio Cidade, the Rio de Janeiro Surf Federation (FESERJ) and the Saquarema Surf Association. The event is broadcast live on WorldSurfLeague.com.

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