Stunning Upsets and Spectacular Performances Shape Semifinals at Surf City El Salvador Pro, Presented by Corona

  • Carissa Moore Continues Dream Run, Posts Highest Heat Total of the Day
  • Tyler Wright and Stephanie Gilmore Go Excellent to Advance
  • Ranking’s Battle Continues Between World No. 1 Griffin Colapinto and No. 3 Filipe Toledo Into Finals Day
  • Ian Gentil Shakes up Fight for Final 5 with Wins Over Joaoa Chianca and Italo Ferreira

PUNTA ROCA, La Libertad, El Salvador (Sunday, June 11, 2023) – After the second full day of competition, the Surf City El Salvador Pro Presented by Corona, Stop No. 7 on the World Surf League (WSL) 2023 Championship Tour (CT), is down to the final four women and final four men. Punta Roca, also known as La Punta or Punta Chilama, hosted today’s heats in four-to-six-foot waves, providing excellent rides, big eliminations, and dramatic upsets. 

Australia’s Tyler Wright and Stephanie Gilmore overcame their young competitors in the Quarterfinals and will now meet in the Semifinals. Current World No. 1 Carissa Moore (HAW) is getting closer to a potential third-consecutive win of the season here in El Salvador. 

On the men’s side, the Round of 16 and Quarterfinals were full of upsets. Only two surfers in the Top 10 will advance to Finals Days, World No. 1 Griffin Colapinto (USA) and No. 3. Filipe Toledo (BRA). Today’s eliminations included Top 5-ranked surfers Joao Chianca and Ethan Ewing, and WSL Champions Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Italo Ferreira (BRA). 

Five-time WSL Champion and current World No. 1, Carissa Moore (HAW), continued her dream run today, securing her fourth-consecutive Semifinal appearance of the season after eliminating fellow Hawaiian Bettylou Sakura Johnson. Moore opened the match with an excellent 8.17 (out of a possible 10) right out of the gates. She then posted the highest single-wave score of the day, a near-perfect 9.37, for several explosive turns and aerial finishing maneuvers. After today’s performance, Moore holds the top three heat scores for the women this season so far. She is now only two heats away from her thrid-consecutive event win of the season. 

The first heat of the Quarterfinals was a battle of two power surfers, two-time World Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) and young talent Gabriela Bryan(HAW). They opened the match with an exciting exchange, each posting solid scores, Wright an 8.00 and Bryan a 7.83. Wright then increased her lead, hammering several huge turns to earn another excellent score an 8.07. Bryan was left chasing a big score as time ran out. Wright will now make her fifth Semifinal appearance of the season.

“I kinda just slowed it down out there, this wave is trickier to figure out than I thought,” said Wright. “This is my first time here. I’m just sticking with my process and slowing things down a bit and also enjoying it. It’s a fun wave and when they come through you get pretty excited.”

Event wildcard Leilani McGonagle (CRC) put on a commendable performance today, giving Wright a run for her money in the Elimination Round. McGonagle posted the highest single-wave score of the heat, a 7.67 for two huge backside turns in the most critical sections of the wave. But, she couldn’t find a backup score of substance and Wright was able to take the heat win with two mid-range scores.

Defending event-winner Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) turned up the heat today at Punta Roca, earning one of the highest heat totals of the day in her Quarterfinal matchup with compatriot Molly Picklum (AUS). The long rights looked like they were made for Gilmore as she choreographed a string of stylish maneuvers. Picklum posted two solid scores herself, but it wasn’t enough to overtake the eight-time World Champion. Gilmore will now have a shot of going back-to-back here in El Salvador, but she will first have to overcome Wright in the Semifinals.

“Molly Picklum and I haven’t had many heats, but she’s the next big thing in Australia for young girls and it’s all eyes on her. Molly really excels when it’s big so it was kind of playing into my field today. She’ll probably start smashing me from here on out so it’s good to get that one in. I really like this wave and have an incredible surfboard under my feet. I’m in a good place so we’ll see what the Semis bring.”

Unfortunately, Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) withdrew from her Quarterfinal heat with Caroline Marks (USA) due to illness. Marks will now have the difficult task of surfing against Moore in the Semifinals.

Rankings Battle Continues Between World No. 1 Griffin Colapinto and No. 3 Filipe Toledo Going Into Finals Day

Reigning World Champion Filipe Toledo (BRA) shows no sign of slowing down his campaign for the win at Stop No. 7 in El Salvador. The 28-year-old is through to Finals Day after eliminating Rio Waida (INA) in the Round of 16 and Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) in Quarterfinal 2. Toledo has maintained his consistency throughout the event, averaging over 15 points in each heat. 

“The challenge here is just staying focused and hydrated,” said Toledo. “It’s really hot, so I had that first heat in the morning and then I was able to go home, eat, and do an ice bath. After that, I felt pretty good and was ready to go again. Definitely feeling the heat right now after a long day, and I am stoked to be in Finals Day. Being consistent is what I am looking for and what I am trying to do. It was so fun watching the girls rip, Riss, Steph, Bettylou, Gabby, Tyler, and everyone. It was pretty cool.” 

PUNTA ROCA, LA LIBERTAD, EL SALVADOR – JUNE 10: Two-time WSL Champion John John Florence of Hawaii surfs in Heat 7 of the Opening Round at the Surf City El Salvador Pro on June 10, 2023 at Punta Roca, La Libertad, El Salvador. (Photo by Beatriz Ryder/World Surf League)

World No. 1 and defending event winner, Griffin Colapinto (USA), also maintained a consistent cadence in the Punta Roca lineup with his own winning streak on the other side of the draw. The 24-year-old will now face Liam O’Brien (AUS) in the Semifinals after eliminating Seth Moniz (HAW) and Connor O’Leary (AUS) in the Round of 16 and Quarterfinal 3, respectively. 

O’Leary exits in Equal 5th place and has yet to break through past the Quarterfinals this season. The Australian defeated Caio Ibelli (BRA) in the Round of 16, Heat 6. He will now look to the VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona for his next chance at Finals Day. 

Liam O’Brien (AUS) is now the last Australian standing in the men’s draw, and he will face Colapinto in the Semifinals after a big day of breakthrough results. His wins over World No. 4 Ethan Ewing (AUS) and Barron Mamiya (HAW) guarantee a third-place finish, matching his result at the 2021 Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona when he appeared as an event replacement wildcard. The 24-year-old had a disappointing start to his CT career with an injury leaving him out of his rookie year. Now, O’Brien is showcasing his incredible surfing on the main stage and, after today, is two heats away from his maiden CT victory. 

En route to the Quarterfinals, Mamiya took down three-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) in Heat 8 of the Round of 16. In a slow heat, Medina had an uncharacteristic fall that set him behind in the heat. The two went wave-for-wave in the dying minutes, with Barron getting the best of Medina. This was Mamiya’s third Quarterfinal appearance of his career. 

Ian Gentil Shakes up Fight for Final 5 with Wins Over Joaoa Chianca and Italo Ferreira

Hawaii’s Ian Gentil secured the best result of his career thus far with two back-to-back upsets. Gentil, 26, eliminated current World No. 2 Joao Chianca (BRA) in the Round of 16 and 2019 WSL Champion Italo Ferreira(BRA). In his close matchup against Ferreira, Gentil turned the heat with a 7.07 and a 6.37 to Ferreira’s 7.00 and 6.33. Gentil will face 2022 event runner-up Toledo in Semifinal 1 when the competition continues. 

PUNTA ROCA, LA LIBERTAD, EL SALVADOR – JUNE 10: Jordy Smith of South Africa surfs in Heat 3 of the Opening Round at the Surf City El Salvador Pro on June 10, 2023 at Punta Roca, La Libertad, El Salvador. (Photo by Aaron Hughes/World Surf League)

“It is inspiring to go up against a guy like Italo,” said Gentil. “He’s achieved so much, he’s a World Champion, and he’s the only Olympic Champion so far, and to be in the water with someone like that is pretty cool. I knew that the first one that I ended up not getting was right there. That wave came through and I thought that it looked good to me and I wasn’t really thinking too much and it looked like a decent little wave that ended up making the difference.” 

Surf City El Salvador Pro Presented by Corona Women’s Elimination Round Results: 

HEAT 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 13.20 DEF. Leilani McGonagle (CRC) 12.50

HEAT 2: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 15.00 DEF. Caitlin Simmers (USA) 3.70

HEAT 3: Molly Picklum (AUS) 15.83 DEF. Johanne Defay (FRA) 13.20

HEAT 4: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 15.00 DEF. Lakey Peterson (USA) 11.00

Surf City El Salvador Pro Presented by Corona Men’s Round of 16 Results: 

HEAT 1: Ian Gentil (HAW) 14.67 DEF. Joao Chianca (BRA) 13.50

HEAT 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.83 DEF. Callum Robson (AUS) 12.17

HEAT 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.00 DEF. Rio Waida (INA) 13.03

HEAT 4: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 16.90 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 14.50

HEAT 5: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 11.00 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 6.84

HEAT 6: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 14.30 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 12.67

HEAT 7: Liam O’Brien (AUS) 15.53 DEF. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 15.43

HEAT 8: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 11.00 DEF. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 10.66

Surf City El Salvador Pro Presented by Corona Women’s Quarterfinal Results: 

HEAT 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 16.07 DEF. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 14.26

HEAT 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.87 DEF. Molly Picklum (AUS) 14.96

HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 17.54 DEF. Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 6.94

HEAT 4: Caroline Marks (USA) DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) INJ

Surf City El Salvador Pro Presented by Corona Men’s Quarterfinal Results: 

HEAT 1: Ian Gentil (HAW) 13.44 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.33

HEAT 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.34 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 14.27

HEAT 3: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 15.67 DEF. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 14.26

HEAT 4: Liam O’Brien (AUS) 12.04 DEF. Barron Mamiya (HAW) 11.84

Surf City El Salvador Pro Presented by Corona Women’s Semifinal Matchups:

HEAT 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)

HEAT 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Caroline Marks (USA)

Surf City El Salvador Pro Presented by Corona Men’s Semifinal Matchups:

HEAT 1: Ian Gentil (HAW) vs. Filipe Toledo (BRA)

HEAT 2: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Liam O’Brien (AUS)

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