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Caity Simmers and Italo Ferreira Win VIVO Rio Pro

Simmers Goes Back-to-Back, Claims First Women’s Final 5 Slot; Ferreira Earns Emotional First Victory on Home Soil, Moves Into Top 5; Second Runner-Up Finishes of the Season for Lindblad and Dora

09/Jul/2024 - WSL

PRAIA DE ITAÚNA, Saquarema, Brazil (Friday, June 28, 2024) - Today, Caity Simmers (USA) and Italo Ferreira (BRA) won the VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona, Stop No. 8 on the World Surf League (WSL) 2024 Championship Tour (CT). Praia de Itaúna provided clean and consistent, though largely straight, waves in the four-to-six foot range that allowed Simmers to claim back-to-back wins and deliver Ferreira his dream victory on home soil.

The win clinched a position in the Lexus WSL Finals for Simmers, the first woman to claim a slot. Simmers and John John Florence (HAW) will carry the yellow Leader’s jerseys into the final event of the regular-season, the Corona Fiji Pro Presentedby Bonsoy, as they hold their positions on top of the rankings.

As the race for the Final 5 continues, a Semifinal finish from Gabriela Bryan (HAW) saw her trade places with Johanne Defay (FRA), placing Bryan in No. 5 and Defay in No. 6. Meanwhile, Ferreira jumped back into the Top 5, in the No. 4 position, knocking Ethan Ewing (AUS) into No. 5, while Yago Dora’s (BRA) Semifinal win over Jordy Smith (RSA) sees the Brazilian in No. 6 and the South African down to No. 7.

Simmers Goes Back-to-Back, Remains Undefeated in Brazil

Simmers successfully defended her 2023 VIVO Rio Pro title, leaving the Californian undefeated in Brazil. It is the fifth CT win, the third of the season, for the 2023 Rookie of the Year, who is competing in just her second year on Tour, and sees her with a significant ranking lead over World No. 2 Caroline Marks (USA). Her backhand in beach breaks over the past two seasons has proven to be near unstoppable, earning her the trophy in the 2023 MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, along with the two victories in Brazil.

“I’m feeling really good right now,” Simmers said. “I surfed with my good friend that I have been surfing with since I was really young. We live 20 minutes away from each other and it was kind of a surreal moment for us both. I’ve been feeling really good this event. My whole family is here and I’ve really just been enjoying it.”

Once again the deep bottom-turns and impeccable timing of Simmers delivered an exciting and dynamic performance as she came up against Sawyer Lindblad (USA), a fellow 18-year-old from Southern California, whom she has been competing against since her pre-teen days. Applying pressure right from the start of the Final, Simmers sold her friend on a lemon, then immediately picked up two high 7-point rides, requiring a combination of two scores from Lindblad before the CT Rookie could even find a single score of note. The Final finished similarly to how it started, with Simmers’ 15.50 heat total standing and Lindblad closing with just a 3.26 two-wave total.

“Honestly everything kind of went my way that heat,” Simmers said. “Me and Sawyer were kind of joking about it at the end, like everywhere I sat there was a wave, which is just crazy. Good job to Sawyer, she’s one of the greatest surfers and she got me last time in Tahiti and that was probably the most painful loss I’ve ever had, so I’m definitely glad I got her, but we’ll have a dance-off later, so that’ll settle it.”

Second Runner-Up Placing Sees Rookie in Striking Distance of Final 5

The first goofy-footer to make the Final in Brazil since Bianca Buitendag (RSA) in 2015, Lindblad had an impressive run through the event before coming up short at the end. Defeating crowd favorite Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) in the Semifinals, as well as 2023 WSL Champion Caroline Marks (USA) in the Quarterfinals, the 2024 Western Australia Margaret River Pro runner-up showed herself a force to be reckoned with as she made her way to her second Final of the season. She leaves Brazil in No. 8 on the rankings, with a chance of making the Final 5.

“That was pretty incredible to share a final with Caity [Simmers],” Lindblad said. “We’ve been surfing against each other since we were 8, so that was really special. I’m so happy I made another Final this year.”

Ferreira Claims Emotional First Victory on Home Soil, Moves Into Top 5

After a slow start to the season that saw him narrowly making the Mid-Season Cut, Italo Ferreira (BRA) claimed his second victory of the year, his ninth overall, which pushed him into the Top 5 where he now sits in No. 4 headed in the final event of the regular-season. The 2019 WSL Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist, who collected the two highest heat totals of the event on his way to the Final, famously learned to surf on a cooler lid in his home of Baía Formosa, where he grew up with very little. His first-ever victory on home soil drew strong emotions from the 30-year-old, especially as he celebrated on the beach with his father.

“I’m emotional right now because I would love to win this comp for my dad, he’s one of my biggest inspirations in life,” Ferreira said. “We came from the bottom and then right now we’re on the top, so I just want to say thank you God for everything, my family, friends. I was dreaming for this moment right now. This is a special one.”

Coming up against the defending event winner, Yago Dora (BRA), who consistently delivered some of the best performances of the week, Ferreira didn’t hold back, aiming for the stars from the start of the Final. An early air reverse combo on his forehand earned a 7.00, which held as the high point, while Dora was unable to find more than single maneuvers, leaving the pair in fairly equal standing. A right late in the heat opened up for Ferreira to punch multiple backhand hits, but an incomplete finish kept the score low, leaving the door open. Dora launched a giant air reverse, easily a heat-winner, but he was unable to ride out and Ferreira successfully closed out another major victory.

“That was a really, really special event,” Ferreira said. “On the beach, outside, in the water. That’s going to be one of my best victories for sure.”

New Headspace Pushes Dora into Back-to-Back Finals

Along the way to his second Final in a row, Dora ignited the crowd when he opened up on a large, long left late in his Quarterfinal match against two-time event winner and two-time WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) to earn a 9.17. The excellent 16.00 heat total he posted marked his third head-to-head win over Florence in Rio. Not done yet, Dora found another open left in his Semifinal against Jordy Smith (RSA) to deliver an aggressive opening carve connected straight into a massive blow-tail layback that collected a 9.33, beating his own previous number for the highest single wave score of the event.

“I think I just changed the mindset, changed my approach,” Dora said. “I’m just kind of freeing up right now and trying to be myself and surf the way I like to surf and I’ve been really enjoying it. It’s been the most fun events I’ve ever had on Tour and it’s been really good. I’m really happy.”

Mixed Performances Leave Final 5 Challengers in Flux

Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) had a strong opening performance on Finals Day, posting the highest heat total of the event for the women, 15.77, which included the highest single wave score, an 8.17. Major opening turns on her forehand delivered the high scores to defeat Brisa Hennessy (CRC) in their Quarterfinal match-up. However, despite massive support from the crowd, Weston-Webb was unable to earn even a 3-point ride in her Semifinal against Sawyer Lindblad (USA), leaving an opportunity to move up the rankings left hanging.

A series of strong backhand gouges from Gabriela Bryan (HAW) earned the 22-year-old an 8.00 in her Semifinal against Caitlin Simmers (USA). Repeating the drama of their shared Semifinal in the previous event, the Surf City El Salvador Pro, but with the results flipped, a last minute wave from Bryan came in just shy of her requirement to win the heat. Regardless, the 2022 Rookie of the Year leaves Brazil back within the Top 5, switching places with Johanne Defay (FRA) to take No. 5 on the rankings.

An extremely low-scoring Quarterfinal between Griffin Colapinto (USA) and three-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) could prove highly consequential to the overall season, as Colapinto’s narrow win kept Medina from breaking into the Top 5. Medina now sits at No. 8 on the rankings and will head into the last event before the Lexus WSL Finals, the Corona Fiji Pro, in need of a big result to have the opportunity to claim a fourth World Title.

For highlights and more information from today’s competition at the VIVO Rio Pro, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona Women’s Final Results:

1 - Caitlin Simmers (USA) 15.50

2 - Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 3.26

VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona Men’s Final Results:

1 - Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.67

2 - Yago Dora (BRA) 10.60

VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona Women’s Semfinal Results:

HEAT 1: Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 8.94 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 4.16

HEAT 2: Caitlin Simmers (USA) 12.74 DEF. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 12.40

VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona Men’s Semifinal Results:

HEAT 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 16.60 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 14.27

HEAT 2: Yago Dora (BRA) 17.30 DEF. Jordy Smith (RSA) 14.23

VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona Men’s Quarterfinal Results:

HEAT 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.03 DEF. Connor O'Leary (JPN) 5.90

HEAT 2: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.07 DEF. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 9.44

HEAT 3: Yago Dora (BRA) 16.00 DEF. John John Florence (HAW) 11.27

HEAT 4: Jordy Smith (RSA) 10.00 DEF. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 9.73

VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona Women’s Quarterfinal Results:

HEAT 1: Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 11.06 DEF. Caroline Marks (USA) 5.60

HEAT 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 15.77 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRC) 6.43

HEAT 3: Caitlin Simmers (USA) 12.77 DEF. Luana Silva (BRA) 5.67

HEAT 4: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 10.57 DEF. Molly Picklum (AUS) 8.9