Courtney Conlogue won her round 1 heat.

Above: Courtney Conlogue posted the highest heat total of Round 1. Photo: WSL/Smorigo

The world’s best female surfers hit the water for Round 1 of the Oi Rio Women’s Pro yesterday. Looking strong on her forehand Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) posted a heat total of 12.00 (out of a possible 20) to dispatch Lakey Peterson (USA) and Alessa Quizon (HAW) and earn her place in Round 3. “I’ve been watching the boys since this morning and they seem to have been struggling,” Buitendag said. “I expected it to be tough when I paddled out so I was prepared for those conditions.”

Defending two-time event winner Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) looked confident out in the tricky lineup and quickly claimed a seven-point ride, the highest score of the heat, to take the win over her opponents Johanne Defay (FRA) and Laura Enever (AUS). “I love coming here, it’s been kind to me over the years and I’ve had some good results,” Fitzgibbons said. “I’m chasing that winning feeling again. It was very tricky out there in that heat though, but I’ll take the win.”

Injury wildcard Keely Andrew (AUS) came out firing in her Round 1 heat against current WSL No. 4 Tyler Wright (AUS) and Coco Ho (HAW), posting a solid 6.50 on her opening ride. Andrew was able to hold onto her lead with a modest back-up score and takes the win in the second CT appearance of her career. “Steph (Gilmore) is one of my favorite surfers so to get this opportunity to surf for her is pretty amazing,” said Andrew. “I just want to make the most of this event, do as well as I can and make as many heats as possible. Making the Quarters would be an absolute dream.”

Americans Courtney Conlogue (USA) and Sage Erickson (USA) were neck-and-neck through their Round 1 heat, but fresh from a win in Margaret River the World No. 2 found a 6.50 in the final moments to take the win. Brazilian Silvana Lima (BRA) struggled to find any scores of consequence, posting only 3.13, and will surf again in Round 2. “The conditions right now are so tough,” said Conlogue. “I was really happy to get through that first Round because sudden-death Round 2 is going to be hard, there’s so many great athletes. I’m really looking forward to Round 3.”

Oi Rio Women’s Pro Round 1 Results:

Heat 1: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 12.00, Lakey Peterson (USA) 10.20, Alessa Quizon (HAW) 8.50

Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.73, Johanne Defay (FRA) 8.00, Laura Enever (AUS) 4.67

Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 9.50, Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 3.40, Luana Coutinho (BRA) 0.50

Heat 4: Keely Andrew (AUS) 11.07, Tyler Wright (AUS) 9.83, Coco Ho (HAW) 8.53

Heat 5: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.33, Sage Erickson (USA) 10.00, Silvana Lima (BRA) 3.13

Heat 6: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 11.43, Malia Manuel (HAW) 10.96, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 10.36
Oi Rio Women’s Pro Round 2 Match-Ups:

Heat 1: Silvana Lima (BRA) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)

Heat 2: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Alessa Quizon (HAW)

Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Luana Coutinho (BRA)

Heat 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Sage Erickson (USA)

Heat 5: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Laura Enever (AUS)

Heat 6: Coco Ho (HAW) vs. Dimity Stoyle (AUS)

The Oi Rio Pro will be webcast LIVE at