World Surf League heads to Brazil
WSl heads to Brazil
After three stops in Australia, the World Surf League's Championship Tour moves to Saquarema, Brazil, for the Rio Pro. The fourth stop on tour, the contest runs from May 9 - 20, and judging by the forecast, the surf should be plenty contestable throughout the men's and women's waiting period. Can John John Florence and Tyler Wright defend their titles from last year? Anything can, and usually does happen when the WSL pulls into Rio.
John John in the lead
At the moment, John John Florence fronts the world title ratings. Looking to capitalize on past successes in Rio, he comes into Brazil with a head full of confidence. "It's been a pretty strong start to the season for me but still a long road ahead," said Florence. "When I won in 2016, I still felt like I had a lot to learn and a lot to showcase. Every year is a challenge and I feel like I'm only improving. There's a lot of talent on tour so we'll see how the rest of the year goes."
Looking for a win
After moving locations for the contest, competitors will be adjusting to the new beach break setup in Saquarema. "It's a new spot for the Oi Rio Pro here in Saquarema and I'm excited to see what it delivers," said Tyler Wright. "I'm hovering in the Top 3 this season so, far but looking forward to getting my first win of the season."
Nature of the surf
Fronting the women's rankings, Stephanie Gilmore has had mixed results in Brazil over the course of her career. A technician when it comes to surfing point breaks, the unpredictable nature of the surf could provide her rivals with an opportunity to real her in.
Back at home
"I love competing at home," said Medina, Brazil's first-ever world champ. "To have my friends and family and country supporting me feels really special. I still have some work to do in this event specifically, but I'm excited to be back in Saquarema and I'm looking forward to the upcoming week."
Sally Fitzgibbons might want a world title more than any woman on tour right now... and 2017 might be her year. After coming close in the past, this year she's sitting second in the world with a ton of momentum. She's had a fair amount of success in Rio over the course of her career, and already with an event win and a semifinal appearance this season, her campaign is starting to take some serious shape.
Not holding back
Filipe Toledo won the contest back in 2015 and he doesn't appear to be holding back in 2017. Sitting sixth in the world at the moment, a win on his home turf in Brazil could slingshot him into the world title conversation.
Stoked to be back
"Really stoked to be back in Brazil and back in the singlet after the win in Bells," said Courtney Conlogue, who's fresh off a win at the last contest. "I'm feeling strong and I have some great boards under my feet and I'm really looking forward to this week."
Looking to improve
Carissa Moore's been lacking a breakout performance this year. The three-time world champ has uncharacteristically slid down to sixth in the ratings. If she can't get something going in Brazil, the season could potentially be a write-off for her.