Courtney reigned supreme at the Oi Rio Pro. Image: WSL / Kelly Cestari
An electrifying final day at the Oi Rio Pro, the fourth stop on the Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), saw Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Courtney Conlogue (USA) reign supreme, claiming victory at Barra da Tijuca in front of a capacity crowd of thousands and thousands of passionate fans. Conlogue got the better of Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) to claim the women’s event, each securing their second CT win of the season and putting themselves firmly in the world title race.
Courtney Conlogue (USA) claims the third CT win of her career and her second of 2015 after taking victory in Margaret River last month. Back-to-back event wins see her retain second place on the Jeep Leaderboard and close the gap on ratings leader Carissa Moore (HAW), who also has two wins this season. Conlogue has been on tour since 2011 and today marks her best result in Brazil. The American previously dispatched Tyler Wright (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) en route to the Final.
“The passion of the Brazilians is unbelievable,” said Conlogue. “They’ve been screaming and it really makes me want to do well. I haven’t ever had two wins in a season so it’s a great start. I’m feeling good and I want to keep this momentum going into Fiji. I can’t wait for that wave, I haven’t surfed it since I was 11 and it’s going to be so fun.
“The hard work is definitely paying off and the injury last year really made me reflect and see just how much I want it,” continued Conlogue. “I really broke everything down and why I do what I do. I’m just enjoying what I’m doing right now and I’m so happy to be able to surf in these events and give it my best performance. We’ll see how that goes for the rest of the season, who knows.”
Courtney celebrates her victory at the Oi Rio Pro. Image: WSL / Kelly Cestari
Conlogue got off to a powerful start in the Final to put Buitendag in a combination situation with less than ten minutes gone. Her 13.67 heat total held through the heat and the South African struggled to find any scores of consequence, while Conlogue went on to improve her position with a 7.33. In the final minutes the South African came back with a 6.27 but it wasn’t enough to break the combination and Conlogue took the win.
“I’m surfing with my heart right now,” Conlogue said. “I’m so happy to be here and so thankful to have such passionate fans here on the beach. I’ve taken a different approach recently and I’ve changed things up which really worked. I can’t be more thankful for where I am and I really hope I have a chance at the world title this year, let’s make it happen.”
This event marked the second CT Final appearance for Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), following her 2014 match-up with reigning six-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) at Snapper Rocks. 2015 is her third year on tour and the result today shows steady improvement this season and sees Buitendag move up two places on the rankings to 9th thanks to the 8,000 points she receives as runner-up. To reach the Final the South African had to take down ratings leader Moore, Lakey Peterson (USA) and 2014 event winner Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS).
Bianca Buitendag. Photo WSL/Smorigo
“I’m blown away by the passion that the Brazilians have,” Buitendag. “It’s such a privilege to be here and I just want to say thank you to everyone that came down. I’m not that familiar with going left so it’s been a big surprise for me how far I’ve come in this event. I’m so grateful to be here and be able to do what I love every day.”
Two-time World Champion and last year’s event runner-up Carissa Moore (HAW) was eliminated during the Semifinals by eventual runner-up Buitendag. The pair traded small scores through the heat and Moore held the lead. With minutes remaining the South African’s patience paid off and she found the wave of the heat to post a 7 and overtake Moore. Using priority to block the Hawaiian, Buitendag was able to hold off Moore and secure her place in the Final. The result sees Moore retain the Jeep leader jersey and first place on the rankings heading into Fiji.
“I didn’t really have a good rhythm and I wasn’t really finding the big open ones so I think that was my biggest mistake,” said Moore. “All competitors shoot to win every event and be in a good lead but I think it’s awesome for the sport to have competition. It definitely keeps me on my toes and has me working harder. These girls are surfing so well that it’s never going to be easy. Fiji is a really challenging wave and I didn’t have the best showing there last year so I’m looking forward to improving on that.”
Highlights from the Oi Rio Pro are available at WorldSurfLeague.com
The next stop on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour will be the Fiji Pro from May 31 – June 19, 2015.
Oi Rio Women’s Pro Final Results:
1- Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.50
2 – Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 11.10
Oi Rio Women’s Pro Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 13.50 def. Carissa Moore (HAW) 10.84
SF 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.16 def. Tyler Wright (AUS) 11.17
Oi Rio Women’s Pro Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 13.27 def. Lakey Peterson (USA) 10.16
QF 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.60 def. Keely Andrew (AUS) 10.06
QF 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) 11.67 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 11.50
QF 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 11.50 def. Malia Manuel (HAW) 10.20