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Brazil’s Ferreira wins Tahiti Pro in epic Olympic appetizer

Brazil’s Italo Ferreira won the Shiseido Tahiti Pro in giant glassy tubes at the Olympic venue of Teahupo‘o on Thursday, showcasing the spectacular potential of the world’s best surfers in perfect waves for the world’s biggest sporting event.

Tokyo Games gold medallist Ferreira beat Hawaiian John John Florence, who will surf for the U.S. at the Paris Olympics, in flawless but fearsome waves of 4-5 meters.

Ferreira got the perfect start to the final, watching Florence get pummelled on his first wave then catching two absolute bombs for a pair of excellent scores.

Florence fought back with the highest wave of the final, a 9.33 out of 10 for a fierce barrel, but could not reel in Ferreira, who ended with a two-wave heat total of 17.70 out of 20.

“I missed this event last year and finally I got my win here and I’m really, really stoked,” said Ferreira, after being congratulated by a jet ski-riding French Polynesia President Moetai Brotherson. “That’s it, job done.”

With the Olympics set to start in less two months, the choice of Teahupo‘o in the French overseas territory for the surfing competition looked inspired on Thursday.

In the best surf conditions for several years on the world championship tour, almost every competitor had highlight reel moments, being shot out of the giant blue barrels into cheering crowds of spectator boats in the channel.

But mistakes were punished hard.

Florence was left spitting out blood after one wipeout early in the day, while Brazil’s Gabriel Medina got clipped at the end of an incredible cavern in his semifinal against Florence, coming up with his back scrapped and bleeding from the sharp coral reef.

Rubbing salt into those wounds, Florence caught the next wave and wrestled the dangerous foam ball in the tube for a 9.77, establishing a lead he never relinquished and cruising into the final.

Ferreira, who missed out on the Brazil team for Paris, had earlier dispatched countryman Yago Dora in the quarterfinal, and then Morocco’s hard-charging Olympian Ramzi Boukhiam in their semifinal.

Tahitian wildcard Vahine Fierro established herself as a favourite for Olympic gold at her home break with a win over fellow Olympian Brisa Hennessy from Costa Rica on Wednesday.
Source: The Garden Island

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