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San Clemente’s Colapinto earns big win in El Salvador

Orange County Register logo Orange County Register 6/18/2022 Laylan Connelly, The Orange County Register

San Clemente surfer Griffin Colapinto took home a major win Friday, June 17, in El Salvador, his second World Surf League Championship Tour victory going up against the world’s best surfers.

His win came after defeating Brazilian Filipe Toledo, who also calls San Clemente home, at the Surf City El Salvador Pro. The victory catapulted Colapinto to third spot in the WSL Final rankings.

If Colapinto can keep the momentum, he could find himself battling for a world championship title at the WSL Finals, which will take place at his home break of Lower Trestles just south of San Clemente later this year.

On the women’s side, Australian Stephanie Gilmore took home the win after going up against California surfer Lakey Peterson. Gilmore also took out San Clemente surfer Caroline Marks in the semi-finals.

Colapinto’s victory came after besting some top contenders in the event, including long-time rival Kanoa Igarashi, of Huntington Beach. The two surfers grew up battling each other as youngsters on the amateur circuit and now find themselves going head-to-head on the World Tour.

Then, Colapinto went up against Brazilian Gabriel Medina, a three-time world champion who is always a threat in competition. Colapinto had just a slight edge over his competitor, scoring 13.30 over Medina’s 13.17 (out of 20).

The event was the seventh stop on the WSL 2022 Championship Tour, which will now head to Brazil for the  Oi Rio Pro.

Growing up in San Clemente, Colapinto was a stand out on the amateur circuit, earning two National Scholastic Surfing Association titles and two USA Surfing championships.

He started off strong when he joined the ranks of the world’s best, earning the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing in 2017, the only Californian to ever stake claim to the title and the first from the mainland since Kelly Slater won in 1998.

He was also last year’s winner of the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach.

Colapinto’s victory Friday is the second big Championship Tour win of his career, the first happening earlier this year at the  MEO Pro Portugal, where he also went up against Toledo in the finals.

In Friday’s final, it was as close as it gets, both surfers having the exact same two wave score of 16.00. Toledo had the edge with the highest one-wave total – a 9.57 – that would have been the tie breaker.

“It’s so crazy,” Colapinto, 23, said in a WSL interview. “I was so baffled we were tied. I was just thinking it can’t end this way, I have to figure it out and comeback performances are what I dream of, so if I’m in that position I just love it.”

With just minutes left on the clock, Colapinto was able to get a final score on the board that gave him the edge, a 8.0 that allowed his combined two-wave total to surpass his opponent.

Toledo is still at the top of the WSL Final 5 rankings and will be considered a favorite at the next event in his home country, which he’s won three times.

Gilmore will be going for her eighth world title if she can maintain her spot in the WSL Final 5. Her win Friday marked her 33rd Championship Tour win.

For Peterson, who grew up in Santa Barbara, her performance at the the Surf City El Salvador Pro was a strong return to competition. She missed most of last year due to a back injury. She’s hoping her momentum will carry her to Lower Trestles, where she grew up competing.

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“I want to win a world title and I love Lowers. I’m going to do everything in my power to get there and give it a good crack,” she said. “There’s a lot of hard work (to be done) and this is a step in the right direction for me.”

The next stop on the 2022 WSL Championship Tour is the Oi Rio Pro Presented by Corona. The competition window will open on June 23 and will run through June 30. For more information or to watch live: WorldSurfLeague.com

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