Malia, Tati still ripping in Rio

M

alia Manuel and Tatiana Weston-Webb will both be aiming to reach the quarterfinals when action resumes at the Rio Women’s Pro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The pair of Kauai surfers won their second-round heats on Thursday, but it wasn’t all great news as they will each have to compete in the fourth round of head-to-head elimination heats to try to be among the eight wahine in the quarters.

In her World Championship Tour debut, Weston-Webb has been making the most of her surprise inclusion in Brazil, which also happens to be the nation of her birth. After taking third in her first-round heat – a highly competitive matchup with Rio defending champion Tyler Wright and France’s Pauline Ado – Tati won her elimination heat in the second round against South African powerhouse Bianca Biutendag.

It wasn’t a typical heat win for Tati, who basically secured the victory about six minutes into the heat when Biutendag was called for an interference. Both surfers paddled for a wave and the South African seemed to think Tati either wasn’t going, or that she was headed right. Biutendag headed to her left, but Tati took off and also went left with priority. Biutendag made the fatal error of not glancing back more than once to be sure her opponent wasn’t taking the wave.

Without priority, it was a clear interference call against Biutendag, which meant she could only use a singe wave score as her heat total. Once Tati combined a pair of solid scores for an 11.17 total, she couldn’t lose the heat unless she were to also be called for an interference at some point. But rather than just sit on her board, Weston-Webb kept busy and punctuated the heat with a great opening turn on a small wave and added two more turns for an 8.33 and a 15.00 heat total.

Tati took third in her non-elimination third round, which sets up a fourth round matchup with Australia’s Nikki Van Dijk for a spot among the final eight.

Manuel had to go up against fellow Kauai surfer Alana Blanchard in the second round. Manuel is hoping to continue her streak of reaching the quarterfinals in all three events to this point. Blanchard was trying to avoid going out in the second round for the fourth straight contest. Things started well enough for Blanchard with a quick wave and a pair of nice turns to get on the board with a 5.00. A two-turn right put Manuel back in front with a 6.00 halfway through the heat.

The two were dead even with six minutes left when a single turn on a nice set wave got Blanchard another 5.00 and gave each a 10.00 total, but Manuel immediately carved up a small wave with three moves and earned a 5.80 to nudge back ahead, then moved further in front with a 6.43 on a left. Blanchard was in need of a 7.43 with just 90 seconds remaining and took off on a medium-sized right and got a great opening turn, but the wave flattened out and Manuel got the best of the Garden Isle showdown with a 12.43 to 10.00 victory.

Manuel will take on Oahu’s Alessa Quizon in the fourth round. Manuel knocked Quizon out in the second round at the previous event, the Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach.

Silvana Lima will take on Pauline Ado and Coco Ho will face Laura Enever in the other two fourth-round heats. Lakey Peterson, Carissa Moore, Tyler Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons all advanced directly into the quarterfinals after winning their respective third-round heats.

One round was completed on Wednesday on the men’s side and Kilauea’s Sebastian Zietz had to work through a slow heat with small waves to start his event. He couldn’t get his air game going enough to win his first round, so he’ll be going up against France’s Jeremy Flores in a second-round elimination heat. A number of the top seeds will also be in the do-or-die second round, including Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and Adriano de Souza. Brazilian local Felipe Toledo lit up the first round with an 18.30 heat total that included a 9.43 score on a 360-degree air.

The men’s second round will begin when action resumes. Tune to Oceanic Surf Channel (250 or 1250), as well as aspworldtour.com for live action and coverage.

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