Who Will Win The Rio Pro in 2019?

Next stop on the WSL world tour is Saquarema in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brazilian surfing fans are among the most passionate in the world and you can bet your bottom dollar that they will show up in droves for the event. With fierce home ground support behind him, Filipe Toledo defeated Aussie, Wade Carmichael, in the final last year to be crowned champion of the event. Filipe and the other Brazilians will all be formidable opponents in 2019 and hard to look past as favourites to take the winner’s trophy.

So what will this year have in store and who will win?

We’ve broken down who we think will come 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in both the men’s and women’s events below.

Starting with the men…

3rd)

Julian Wilson

Country: Australia

Current Ranking: #13

Result at Brazil in 2018: 3rd

Julian has been the prodigy of Australian surfing ever since he joined the tour in 2011. Julian’s air game is very reliable even when under pressure in a high stakes tour heat. This will be useful in the Brazilians conditions, particularly if the judges start scoring airs favourably. Coming within a whisker of being world champion last year, Julian knows exactly what it takes to win an event.

Key Strengths:

  • His professional attitude and desire to be world champion means Julian brings sheer determination to every event.
  • While his air game may not have as much flair as some of his Brazilian competitors, Julian consistently lands airs in high pressure situations.
  • He came 3rd in Brazil last year, so he knows how to get on the podium at the event.

Possible Weakness:

  • Hasn’t won a WSL event in 2019 so may be lacking a little confidence.
 Julian WilsonSource: Instagram

2nd)

Italo Ferreira

Country: Brazil

Current Ranking: #3

Result at Brazil in 2018: 13th

Italo has been one of the form surfers in 2019 with a win already under his belt at the Gold Coast. His barrel on his backhand at The Box in Margaret River was one of the best waves we’ve seen all year (check it out here). So with all this momentum it’s hard not to see Italo as a sure thing for a podium finish in Brazil.

Key Strengths:

  • Italo has already registered a win in 2019 at the Gold Coast;
  • He possesses one of the most consistent air reverses in the world which can be used to score extra points when the waves are small; and
  • His aggressive style means he stays busy all heat and catches plenty of waves.

Possible Weakness:

  • May get over-hyped from the energy of the home crowd.
 Italo FerreiraSource: Instagram

1st)

Willian Cardoso

Country: Brazil

Current Ranking: #18

Result at Brazil in 2018: 13th

Weighing in at 95 kilos, big Willy Cardoso is one of our favourite surfers here at Flatrock Wetsuits. He fell out of the WSL tour in 2013, but through dogged determination was able to fight his way through the WQS rankings to return to the top flight in 2018. This unwillingness to give up makes Willian a formidable opponent in any event he competes in.

Key Strengths:

  • His burly frame means that he can attack the heavy-lipped waves of Saquarema with ease and poise.
  • At 33 years of age, Willian is somewhat of a tour veteran and can use this experience to strategise his way through heats.
  • Being a Brazilian native, Willian will have a huge amount of home ground support behind him.

Possible Weakness:

  • Willian has never won a WSL tour event so may lack the killer instinct required to close out the match.
 Willian CardosoSource: Instagram

 

And in the women…

3rd)

Caroline Marks

Country: USA

Current Ranking: #2

Result at Brazil in 2018: 9th

At age 17, Caroline is the youngest competitor on tour. With two podium finishes already this year, Caroline is a clear contender for the world title in 2019.

Key Strengths:

  • Caroline is full of confidence after her inaugural WSL tournament win at the Gold Coast.
  • Being a goofy footer she may be able to show something a little bit different to the judges being on her backhand on any right-hand waves at Saquarema.
  • At only 17 years of age Caroline is full of energy.

Possible Weakness:

  • Caroline’s lack of experience may cause her to make errors of judgement during her heats.
 Caroline MarksSource: Instagram

2nd)

Tatiana Weston-Webb

Country: Brazil

Current Ranking: #9

Result at Brazil in 2018: 3rd

A dual citizen of both Brazil and the United States, the 23-year-old decided to change her representing country in preparation for the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. With the support of the home crowd, we expect a podium finish from Tatiana.

Key Strengths:

  • Having grown up surfing in Hawaii, Tatiana does not shy away from fast-barrelling waves.
  • Will take confidence from her 2nd place finish at Margaret River.

Possible Weakness:

  • Can lose focus if scores don’t go her way.
 Tatiana Weston WebbSource: Instagram

1st)

Lakey Peterson

Country: USA

Current Ranking: #6

Result at Brazil in 2018: 2nd

Having a mum who was a former US national champion swimmer, has meant that Lakey has been a fierce competitor ever since she was a small child. With her first win of 2019 now out of the way at Margaret River, we expect Lakey to push on with back-to-back wins.

 Key Strengths:

  • She possesses powerful snaps off the lip which are suited to the right-handers at Saquarema; and
  • Lakey finished 2nd in the championship tour last year (2018) and is super hungry for her first world title.

Possible Weakness:

  • Won’t have the benefit of home ground support that her Brazilian competitors will enjoy.
 Lakey PetersonSource: Instagram

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