Wilson, Carmichael advance at heaving Rio

Julian Wilson and Wade Carmichael are the last of the Australian men alive at the Rio Pro with the women's flag being flown by four including Sally Fitzgibbons.

Australian surfer JULIAN WILSON looks on as Mick Fanning speaks to the media during a press conference at All Sorts Sports Factory in Sydney, Australia.
Australian surfer JULIAN WILSON looks on as Mick Fanning speaks to the media during a press conference at All Sorts Sports Factory in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Australia will be represented by Julian Wilson and Wade Carmichael in the men's fourth round, and by Sally Fitzgibbons, Stephanie Gilmore, Keely Andrew and Bronte Macaulay in the women's third round at the WSL Rio Pro in Brazil.

Wilson battled through heaving seas to surf through round three, where he toppled powerful Hawaiian surfer Ezekial Lau by 8.9 to 6.10 in a particularly low-scoring heat in shifty, 2m-plus peaks at the Saquarema beachbreak.

Wilson has drawn home favourite Jesse Mendes in Saturday's (Sunday AEST) fourth round.

The world No.13 says the massive sets and relentless current made it exhausting to hold position in the line-up.

"It was like just a constant hamster wheel trying to get in position to find anything. I was literally happy to take anything, anything that looked like I could have a go at one turn, I was going to take it," he said on the beach afterwards.

"I was really happy to survive that. My one wave that was pretty good, I had two cutbacks and all I was thinking was 'just finish it' and I just got absolutely smashed."

Fellow Australian and Wade Carmichael somehow bounced through a monster foam-ball on his belly before standing up to draw out a backside top turn and transition into two massive snaps to log an 8.5 in his heat with Yago Dora.

The world No.16 eventually prevailed 12.37 to 11.40 over the Brazilian.

He's been given the unenviable task of trying to outsurf current world No.1 and double world champion John John Florence in the fourth round.

Carmichael and Wilson are the only Australian men to make it through the third round.

Owen Wright crashed out to French beachbreak specialist Joan Duru 12.4 to 10.13 and South African power surfer Jordie Smith put on a stunning 15.83 to Jack Freestone's 11.00 to send the Australian packing.

Ryan Callinan fell to American allrounder Griffin Colapinto 10.73 to 7.57 in their third-round heat and Soli Bailey was downed by American world No.2 Kolohe Andino 12.87 to 8.56.

The top contenders still in the men's mix include Florence, Japanese world No.4 Kanoa Igarashi, Tahitian barrel hunter Michel Bourez and world No.9 and 11-time world champion Kelly Slater.

There's also a sizeable Brazilian contingent including world No.6 Felipe Toledo, world No.17 Michael Rodrigues, Jesse Mendes, Deivid Silva and reigning world champion Gabriel Medina.

In the women's competition, 16-year-old Brazilian wildcard Taina Hinckel stunned Australian world No.10 Nikki Van Dijk and Sally Fitzgibbons by winning their round two elimination heat.

The shock defeat means Van Dijk cannot replicate her quarter-final finishes from the last two years in Rio, because Hinckel's 0.57-point advantage over the Melbournian resulted in her elimination.

Fitzgibbons, who finished 0.10-points behind, advances along with Hinckel into the round of 16, where she will join fellow Australians Stephanie Gilmore, Keely Andrew and Bronte Macaulay.

"This is the best day of my life and I am so happy," said Hinckel, the local teenager from Guarda do Embau.

"I've been having an incredible time here with my father, and everything has been working out. I just want to surf and have fun."


AAP