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VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona: Ferreira and Florence Set the Pace as Men’s Quarterfinalists Determined

Houshmand Rematch Sees Medina Continue in Race for the Final 5; Robinson’s Loss Is Colapinto’s Gain as O’Leary Delivers Rankings Shake-Up; Long-Awaited Return to Finals Day in Brazil Keeps Smith in Top 5 Conversation

28/Jun/2024 - WSL

PRAIA DE ITAÚNA, Saquarema, Brazil (Thursday, June 27, 2024) - The men’s Quarterfinalists were decided on the second day of action at the VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona, Stop No. 8 on the World Surf League (WSL) 2024 Championship Tour (CT). An unruly four-to-six foot of wind-affected surf challenged some and provided an opportunity for others as the men’s Elimination Round and Round of 16 were completed.

The energetic Brazilian crowd was once again rewarded with multiple exciting moments from those representing their nation. World Champions Italo Ferreira (BRA) and Gabriel Medina (BRA), along with defending event winner Yago Dora (BRA), moved through to the Quarterfinals, staying in the conversation for the all-important race for the Final 5 along the way. 

The unmatched energy of Ferreira was on full display today. Feasting on the froth of his home crowd, the 2019 WSL Champion was unstoppable as he built from a 7.83 (out of a possible 10), to an 8.50, to a 9.00 to deliver a 17.50 (out of a possible 20) heat total, easily the highest of the event so far, all within the first 15 minutes of his 35-minute Round of 16 match against Rio Waida (INA), in which he caught a total of 12 waves. The 30-year-old showed shades of the type of surfing that earned him a Gold Medal when surfing debuted in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in similar conditions, as he utilized his infamous air game, as well as the strength of his rail work, to leave Waida in need of a combination of two scores throughout almost the entire heat. A two-turn backhand combo from Waida late in the heat earned him a 7.87 and a heat total that would have won many other heats today; however, Ferreira was on another level.

“I decided to surf,” Ferreira said. “I talked to Marcos [Casteluber] before the heat, I was like, I’m going to try to catch a wave and just surf, you know. I had a good score on my first four waves. I like to surf, you know, not to be like, trying to find a wave. I try to catch a wave like every single moment and do my tricks and then push the limit. So that’s what I did.”

Current World No. 1 John John Florence (HAW) came the closest to matching Ferreira, earning the victory with a significant lead over Seth Moniz (HAW). The two-time WSL Champion’s 14.44 heat total was amassed by utilizing both the left and right of Praia de Itaúna and sees him into his sixth Finals Day of 2024.

Houshmand Rematch Sees Medina Continue in Race for the Final 5

Tapping back into the magic that saw him take back-to-back victories on the 2023 Challenger Series on his road to CT qualification, Cole Houshmand (USA) delivered a vicious two-turn forehand combination that utilized every part of his large frame. His seamless and aggressive attack earned an 8.83 and a solid Elimination Round victory over Matthew McGillivray (RSA). The win set up a rematch of the heat that turned the 23-year-old Rookie’s year around, once again facing Gabriel Medina (BRA) in the Round of 16. In an extremely tight and low-scoring affair, Medina got one back on Houshmand, staying busy to scrappily earn victory less than half a point ahead of the Californian, who caught just two waves, the second within the final ten seconds. Progressing to his first Finals Day in Brazil since 2019, the win also keeps Medina at No. 6 on the live rankings, within reach of the Top 5.

“I just wanted to surf, really; I feel like I couldn’t surf, but that one went my way,” Medina said. “It was really tricky out there, but I’m happy with the win. Cole [Houshmand] is a great kid, it’s his first year on Tour. I’ve seen him at Trestles a few times, and I knew at some point he was going to qualify for the Tour. It’s good to inspire a new generation like him and other kids. It’s a big responsibility, you know. It’s good to see this young generation coming up really strong, make us even try harder, train more. It’s good for the Tour, this new blood. It’s been fun, we’ve had two heats head-to-head. One-one.”

Robinson’s Loss Is Colapinto’s Gain as O’Leary Delivers Rankings Shake-Up

In the final heat of the Elimination Round, Ryan Callinan (AUS) defeated Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) in Brazil for the second year in a row before fellow student of coach Richard ‘Dog’ Marsh, Connor O’Leary (JPN), claimed a Quarterfinals berth in the following heat, the first of the Round of 16. O’Leary immediately evened the score with Jack Robinson (AUS), who defeated him in their first-ever head-to-head CT match-up in the previous event, the Surf City El Salvador Pro. It will be O’Leary’s first Finals Day appearance since the season’s kick-off at the Lexus Pipe Pro.

Robinson’s loss opened the door for Griffin Colapinto (USA) to move back into the No. 2 position on the live rankings, which the Californian secured by locking in his best result yet in Brazil after he defeated Liam O’Brien (AUS) in the Round of 16. Colapinto remains undefeated against O’Brien after five head-to-head match-ups, his 7.17 for a two-turn backhand combo the high point of a slow heat that nevertheless had big implications in the race for the Final 5.

“After making that heat, I feel good,” Colapinto said. “The start of the contest yesterday was a bit of a roller-coaster for me. I lost the first round, and the two events before that I had lost to wildcards so that was my third wildcard in a row with Sammy [Pupo]. I was pretty nervous going into that just because he’s so good out here. I feel like getting over that made me feel so free, just getting over that hurdle. I had so much stacked against me too, you know, you say you’re not trying to pay attention to the rankings, but you are, or I am, at least. Yesterday, the first round, everyone around me on the rankings won their heat and I was the only guy in the Elimination Round. So that was definitely weighing on me a bit. So to get through that and to get through this last heat with Liam and into Finals Day feel insane.”

Long-Awaited Return to Finals Day in Brazil Keeps Smith in Top 5 Conversation

2013 event winner Jordy Smith (RSA) continues to surprise in a consistent season that has kept him in the Top 5 conversation from the start of the year. The 36-year-old is currently the oldest on Tour, and has never really slipped, but his current form is proving to deliver. A win in the final heat of the day over Ryan Callinan (AUS) saw Smith progress to his first Finals Day in Brazil since a runner-up finish in 2019 and is so far keeping the Brazilian trio of Medina, Ferreira, and Dora out of the Top 5 picture.

“I’m really excited,” Smith said. “As far as my career goes, never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought I would have been a professional surfer, especially for close to 20 years, so it’s an amazing thing for me, but I’m not done, you know. I’m still in it and just keep swinging”

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

VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona Men’s Elimination Round Results: 

HEAT 1: John John Florence (HAW) 12.34 DEF. Joao Chianca (BRA) 7.13

HEAT 2: Rio Waida (INA) 12.70 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 11.07

HEAT 3: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.50 DEF. Samuel Pupo (BRA) 11.97

HEAT 4: Liam O'Brien (AUS) 10.66 DEF. Barron Mamiya (HAW) 7.50

HEAT 5: Connor O'Leary (JPN) 11.83 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 9.23

HEAT 6: Cole Houshmand (USA) 14.66 DEF. Matthew McGillivray (RSA) 10.50

HEAT 7: Crosby Colapinto (USA) 11.33 DEF. Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 5.00

HEAT 8: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.54 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.80

VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona Men’s Round of 16 Results: 

HEAT 1: Connor O'Leary (JPN) 10.27 DEF. Jack Robinson (AUS) 8.40

HEAT 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 17.50 DEF. Rio Waida (INA) 11.70

HEAT 3: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.40 DEF. Liam O'Brien (AUS) 11.34

HEAT 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 9.60 DEF. Cole Houshmand (USA) 9.27

HEAT 5: John John Florence (HAW) 14.44 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 8.00

HEAT 6: Yago Dora (BRA) 13.90 DEF. Crosby Colapinto (USA) 10.83

HEAT 7: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 13.67 DEF. Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 8.50

HEAT 8: Jordy Smith (RSA) 12.10 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 7.30

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

HEAT 1: Connor O'Leary (JPN) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)

HEAT 2: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Gabriel Medina (BRA)

HEAT 3: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Yago Dora (BRA)

HEAT 4: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Jordy Smith (RSA)

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

HEAT 1: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Sawyer Lindblad (USA)

HEAT 2: Brisa Hennessy (CRC) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA)

HEAT 3: Caitlin Simmers (USA) vs. Luana Silva (BRA)

HEAT 4: Molly Picklum (AUS) vs. Gabriela Bryan (HAW)

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.