Rio’s round 1 in the books; Tati, Malia, Seabass all face round 2

With both Malia Manuel and Tatiana Weston-Webb competing against one another in round one, we knew at least one would be facing a second-round elimination heat. But it was Aussie rookie Keely Andrew who pulled out the win, relegating both Kauai wahine to round two matchups.

Andrew picked up an eight-point ride with about eight minutes remaining, making the most of a small right-hander with four turns. As a result, Andrew moves into round three for the first time since the year’s first event.

All five Hawaii competitors will be facing elimination in round two and four of them will be doing so against one another. Manuel matches up with Alessa Quizon and Weston-Webb takes on Coco Ho. Carissa Moore also lost her opening heat and will take on Silvana Lima.

They’re all difficult heats and we’ll unfortunately be losing at least two of them. It may be most critical for Ho, who hasn’t escaped the second round yet in 2016.

But Tati, Malia and Carissa have all reached at least the third round in every contest, so they should all be considered favorites in their respective heats.

Sally Fitzgibbons, Courtney Conlogue, Tyler Wright, Stephanie Gilmore and a surprising Sage Erickson will join Andrew as winners in round three.

The men’s side of the draw shares a slight resemblance with what we’re used to seeing at a QS event. Except those well-known names aren’t enjoying byes into the later rounds. No Slater. No Fanning. No Parkinson. No Burrow. Much of the old guard isn’t in Rio at all and the names we’re starting to get more used to have a great opportunity to keep shining.

That includes Italo Ferreira, who might not have the results Matt Wilkinson does, but he could be considered the best surfer on tour right now. Ferreira is in third place for the season and has reached two straight semifinals. He was most impressive in his first-round win against Miguel Pupo and Bino Lopes.

Ferreira had his heat all but locked up after just two waves, opening with a 9.00 and backing it up with a 7.50 to jump into round three.

He was one of five Brazilians to pick up first-round victories to move on. The Brazilian storm seems to be alive and well, and that’s not even including the last two world champions. Gabriel Medina and Adriano de Souza will have to survive second-round elimination heats.

The same is true for Sebastian Zietz, who enters as the second-ranked surfer on the Championship Tour. But he had a rough outcome in round one, finishing behind heat winner Alejo Muniz despite grabbing the top wave of the heat.

Zietz now takes on Oahu’s Keanu Asing, which will be a heat most competitors have an eye on if they’re hoping to creep up the standings. The same is true for the Wilkinson matchup with Deivid Silva. If Wilko goes out in round two, it opens things up for every other competitor on tour. His lead would shrink considerably, though a pair of throwaway scores to work with are a nice cushion for the rest of his season.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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