Nov 17, 2022

Medina, Spencer Sweep Saquarema Pro

It’s been a big week down in Brazil as Rip Curl’s own Alyssa Spencer and Gabriel Medina ripped their way to the top of the podium at the Corona Saquarema Pro.

The road to the winner’s circle wasn’t easy for either surfer as they both came into the penultimate Challenger Series with something to prove.

For Spencer, her dreams of qualifying for the 2023 Championship Tour burned bright. After a successful season on the regional Qualifying Series in which she earned four first-place finishes, Spencer came into Saquarema needing a big result to mover her up the Challenger Series ratings and put her in position to potentially qualify at the last event of the season in Hawaii.

With her goal squarely in her sites, Spencer went to work in Round 1 and never looked back. Battling through an international field of competitors, in the quarters she faced savvy Aussie Keely Andrew and took on Japanese surfer and fellow Rip Curl teammate Amuro Tsuzuki in the semis. Saving the best for last, Spencer made the most of the wonky conditions in the final to best France’s Tessa Thyssen and take the first Challenger Series win of her young career.

For the effort, Spencer moves up the Challenger Series leaderboard eight spots and now sits ranked sixth, one spot below the cutline. The final event of the 2022 Challenger Series will be the Haleiwa Challenger, which kicks off the end of November.

Meanwhile, for Medina, his tour de force in Saquarema marks his return to competition after an extended hiatus due to injury. After more than 130 days out of the arena, always the showman, Medina dazzled the adoring crowd from the first horn of the first heat, and when the pressure was on in the final, he did what he does best—go next level.

In the first heat of the event Medina faced off against rising talent Crosby Colapinto, Kehu Butler and Gabriel Klaussner. He made short work of the next generation as he continued to build momentum all the way to finals day.

Taking out France’s Maxime Huscenot in the quarters, fellow Brazilian countryman Joao Chianca gave him a run for his money in the semis, but Medina handled the pressure and advanced.

Up against Morocco’s Ramzi Boukhiam, who was looking to clinch his spot on the 2023 Championship Tour, Medina fell behind early in the final, and with 10 minutes remaining, it looked like the North African surfer was about to drop the upset of the event. Then he made a slight priority mistake. It was enough for Medina to smell blood. Two mid-range scores later and the three-time world champ was celebrating on the beach.

It's likely the next time we'll see Medina in a jersey is when the 2023 Championship Tour season kicks off at Pipeline the end of January.

Photos courtesy WSL