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California's Colapinto Takes Over World No. 1 In Statement-Making Portugal Win

The United States' Griffin Colapinto, France’s Johanne Defay come strong with clutch victories at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal.
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Griffin Colapinto has long put his focus on trusting the process, and his command performance at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal was evidence of that. Saving his best for last in the final, a long, impeccably threaded, near-perfect 9.67 barrel in the waining moments of the final carried him to his first Championship Tour win of 2024. Besting friend and rival Ethan Ewing, the win rockets Colapinto up the WSL leaderboard ten spots and gives him the yellow leaders jersey.

“I heard this saying, when the fires burning, throw an extra log on it so it burn twice as strong. So, the fire’s burning extra strong now,” beamed Colapinto from the podium after the win.

After clawing his way out of the elimination round last week and building momentum in every subsequent heat, finals day was made extra special as Colapinto’s brother, Crosby, was also competing. On opposite sides of the draw, there was the potential for the two to meet in the final, but it was not to be. Losing in the semifinals to Ewing, the younger Colapinto now sits ranked tenth in the world — making them the highest ranked brotherly duo on tour in a long, long time.

“Watching Crosby surf his heats, I was so invested in what he was doing, I felt like I was surfing twice as many heats because I was watching him so closely.

On the women’s side, it was France’s Johanne Defay taking the win over Australia’s Tyler Wright. A hard fought final, Defay’s local knowledge and powerful backhand attack proved to be the difference maker. For the effort, Defay climbs four spots on the leaderboard to number two and is now just 1,000 points behind Aussie Molly Picklum.

“It’s overwhelming,” Defay said afterwards. “Waves changed and the swell arrived for sure, I think we both had similar strategies and maybe we both had boards a little bit small for these waves. I focused on the lefts obviously and was looking for two turns but in the end one was enough.”

“Last year was fun and weird at the same time,” Defay added. “I really enjoyed my time at home even if I was injured, it was kind of a break that I deserved too. Coming back to contests it was hard to find my feet again and my fire but I worked hard and just wanted to show my injury didn’t take me out completely. ”

With the only stop in Europe in the books, the Championship Tour now heads to Australia for events at Bells Beach and Margaret River. The stakes will be especially high as they will be the last two stops before the dreaded mid-year cut. Both Colapinto and Defay will also be competing in the Paris Olympics in Tahiti this summer.