Here's the latest regarding the upcoming Oi Rio Pro:
Kelly Slater - OUT
Kelly has pulled out at the last minute, citing an ongoing back injury as his reason. He will seek professional rehab and hopes to be back for Fiji. He's replaced by:
Bino Lopes - IN
Bino surfed this event last year and finished 25th.
Trials Winner - Yago Dora
The high-flying Brazilian could really set a cat amongst the pigeons here. Watch this space.
Italo Ferreira - OUT
Italo's initial diagnosis was to hit the rehab after his post-Gold Coast injury and return to competition in time for his local event. Unfortunately for Italo and surf fans alike, this wasn't to be. There's been no official call regarding his place at Fiji. He will again be replaced by...
Nat Young - IN as injury replacement
Could Nat get a place on the 2018 tour via his 2017 replacement spots? Does he have an Italo voodoo doll? Who knows?
Local wildcard - Jesse Mendes
Jesse gets a second bite of the cherry after his 13th at Margs. The Brazilian goofy-footer has surfed plenty of Saquerama over the years and could be a dark horse. His seeding will suck though.
Gabriel Medina - IN (but is he 100%)
This is hardly a solid lead, but we've heard it told that Gabe's knee isn't too great. Apparently it's more restrictive on his forehand, hence the ability to surf Margs/Bells. Could this come into play at Saquerema?
Kelly Slater - IN (but is he?)
Kelly is notorious for his absences in Brazil, and he's made no effort to hide this over the years. He seems vaguely interested in the change of venue, but he's far too enigmatic to predict reliably. Nick Carroll also seems to think that Slater is carrying some injury, and he generally knows way more than us about that sort of thing. We'll still have him on some of our teams, but don't say you weren't warned if he doesn't show.