Brazilian, US surfers win opening WSL event in Australia

NEWCASTLE, Australia (AP) — Defending World Surf League champion Italo Ferreira won an all-Brazilian men’s final Saturday over Gabriel Medina at the Newcastle Cup, the first of four WSL tour events in Australia over the next six weeks as the world’s top competitors prepare for the Tokyo Olympics.

The 2019 world champion edged Medina in a tight decider at Merewether Beach to move to the top of the world rankings after two events. A pair of seven-point rides was enough for Ferreira to win the title from two-time world champion Medina, securing a 14.94 two-wave total in comparison to Medina’s 13.27.

The 26-year-old Ferreira’s win was his seventh WSL title. He now heads to the Narrabeen Classic at Sydney, which is scheduled to begin next Friday, replacing Hawaii’s John John Florence as tour leader.

Florence has already qualified for the United States for July’s Tokyo Games, where surfing is making its Olympic debut.

Earlier Saturday, four-time world champion Carissa Moore of the United States beat Australian rookie Isabella Nichols to win the women’s Newcastle event.

Moore, from Hawaii, capped a dominant few days to win her 24th WSL title, scoring a two-wave total of 15.73 which included a near-perfect 9.50 ride.

Moore, who scored nine-point waves in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final, will head to Narrabeen for the third stop on the world tour with the world No. 1 ranking.

Moore came into the event second on the rankings after losing in the final of the season opener in Hawaii to Tyler Wright, but moves into the yellow jersey after the Australian’s early exit in Newcastle.

“I feel so good to be standing No. 1 at the end of this contest,” Moore told the WSL broadcast. “This year is going to be a great race and a good title showdown at the end of year, I hope I make it there.”

Nichols, who lives on the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane in Queensland state, beat seven-time world champion and fellow Australian Stephanie Gilmore in the quarterfinals.

The WSL competitors spent two weeks in quarantine ahead of the Newcastle event due to the coronavirus pandemic. The final two events after Narabeen will be held in Western Australia state — from May 2-12 at Margaret River south of Perth and from May 16-26 on Rottnest Island off the coast of Perth.

Olympic surfing is scheduled to take place at Tsurigasaki Beach, 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Tokyo, from July 25 to Aug. 1. It will feature 20 male and 20 female competitors, with limitations place on the number of surfers per country.

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AP Olympics coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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