Prior to her 2012 knee injury, Silvana Lima was one of the world’s best wahine surfers with a pair of back-to-back top-five rankings. She was a force in her home country, reaching the semifinals of the 2011 Rio Pro, equaling her best result that season.
Since then, things haven’t gone as well as they once did. That severe injury ended her 2012 season after just one contest and she’s never regained similar success on the Championship Tour.
With the CT returning to Brazil this week, it’s a prime opportunity for Lima to get back to some of those winning habits that have evaded her for a number of seasons. She starts off her contest in the first round’s final heat against Johanne Defay and Lakey Peterson.
Lima has a lot to gain in this contest, especially with the injury to Malia Manuel. The Brazilian is currently ranked 14th on the women’s world tour, one spot behind Manuel, who isn’t currently competing. She’s two spots behind Tatiana Weston- Webb, who hasn’t had the start to 2017 that she’d expect. Three ninth-place results make up Tati’s ledger to this point.
A pair of second-round defeats and a fourth-round exit are all that Lima has to show for her Australian leg of the season. Returning to her home nation is the best spot for her to turn things around and make a significant impression upon the CT.
With the location heading to Saquarema and outside of Rio, it could be a good chance for her to capitalize on the lesser known beach break, but she won’t be alone in trying to make a significant move up the ladder. Despite the women’s tour being deeper in talent than ever before, that also makes it feel like more competitors are underachieving. Lima isn’t the only one who can use a big result this week.
Carissa Moore is in an unusual position as she resides in sixth place. It’s been seven straight seasons in which the three-time world champ has finished the year ranked within the top three. Moore didn’t make a semifinal at any of the three Aussie stops and has a good amount of ground to make up to catch Stephanie Gilmore, as well as leap over the other four women in her path.
Johanne Defay sits in seventh for the season after surging into the top five last year and having a stellar start to her 2017 Qualifying Series campaign. She hasn’t had any glaring mistakes and she’s made one semifinal and one quarterfinal, but it just goes to show how solid every competitor needs to be at every event to keep themselves in the world title race.
Bianca Buitendag gets the injury wild card into this contest and would benefit greatly from a big result. When she made her somewhat stunning run to finish 2015 ranked fourth in the world, it all started with a runner-up result in Rio. That was the first of three finals in four contests for the South African who now finds herself off the world tour. If she can replicate that success this week, it will keep her in the mix to re-qualify with additional wild-card results to come.
There is always a lot at stake with any given CT contest. But Rio feels like that first turning point, being the event that bridges Australia with what’s to come at Fiji and California.
For Lima, this may be a breaking point. Her QS season hasn’t been up to her usual standards, which is how she has been able to continue qualifying most recently. She has a chance to start creeping back towards the top 10 and she can do so on home soil. Now she just has to find that spark that was once so evident.
David Simon can be reached at email@example.com.