Yago Dora Is Injured — What Does That Mean For His CT Season?
The mid-year cut makes things complicated.
2021 was the best year of Yago Dora’s career.
With three quarterfinal berths in seven events, Yago finished the year ranked ninth in the world. It was the first time the 25-year-old has cracked the CT top-10.
Yago’s most memorable performance of the season came at Rottnest Island, where he used the generally dry end section as a launchpad to send and deliver two stylish air revs to the tune of 18.67 points.
Yago also put out an edit called ‘Ciclo‘, which is currently in the running for the 2021 Stab Edit of the Year. And to close out the year, he won the Saquarema Surf Festival QS 3,000 against his friend and fellow-CTer, Joao Chianca, with a final heat total of 18.97.
In a recent Instagram post, Yago said that he’d been training hard to get ready for the 2022 season, which is set to begin at Pipeline in late January. However, in the process of training, he suffered a foot injury and has recently undergone Lisfranc surgery.
Here’s what Stab’s unofficial medical correspondent had to say about Lisfranc surgery:
“Lisfranc fractures can be stable or unstable. His was likely the latter as stable fractures do not require surgery. Unstable Lisfranc fractures involve torn ligaments in the foot, and in order to make a better recovery, surgery is required. This injury sounds lot like the one Kelly had [in Jeffrey’s Bay] to me.
“For most human beings, I’d give it six months return to sport. But I also said there was no way in hell John John would surf in the Olympics after his ACL surgery, so obviously modern medicine is developing really quickly and these athletes recover quicker than most. That said, if you rush recovery you’re leaving yourself more susceptible to future injury.”
Armed with the above info, we reached out to Yago to see about his expected return date.
“It’s looking like around three months to be back surfing,” Yago said. “I’m definitely missing the first two events [Pipe and Sunset]. Beyond that, I’m not really thinking about dates. I just wanna get better. When I’m good I’ll know what I have to do.”
The problem is, Yago might have to do a lot.
In a typical year, missing the first two(-plus) competitions of the season wouldn’t be such a big deal, because you have two throwaway events and an entire season to make up the difference. But in 2022, things have changed dramatically — and not in a way that favors Yago.
For the first time since 2010, the WSL is bringing back the mid-year cutoff. After the fifth event of the season, only the top-22 males and top-10 females will remain on tour for the final five events. The bottom 12 men and six women will be cut from the CT after Margaret River and forced to requalify via the 2022 Challenger Series.
So assuming Yago misses Pipe and Sunset, he’ll have a maximum of three events to get within the top-22 — not an impossible task, but certainly a daunting one.
You might be wondering how the WSL injury wildcards come into play.
In 2022, the WSL has two Season Wildcards to give out to whomever they please, based on whatever criteria they deem most appropriate at the time — typically, they go to athletes who were injured (like Kolohe Andino and Lakey Peterson this year) or well-established surfers who narrowly missed the cut (like Owen Wright and Malia Manuel).
Currently, Yago looks like a prime candidate to receive a Season Wildcard under either of those criteria. The only thing is, this wildcard would not grant Yago access to the second half of the 2022 CT season — that’s reserved exclusively for the top-22 surfers (after event five). Instead, this wildcard would grant Yago a spot on the beginning of the 2023 CT, which is a long way away.
There are, however, two Event Wildcards for each of the last five CT events, which the WSL could theoretically grant to Yago, should they so desire.
Last but not least is the question of who will take over Yago’s spot in the first two(-plus) CT events of the season?
That honor goes to South Africa’s Matthew McGillivray, who was the first CTer outside of the cutline in 2021.
Knowing he was first in line to receive an injury call-up, Matt has stayed in Hawaii after the Haleiwa Challenger event and has been here ever since. At the moment, it’s extremely difficult to travel into and out of South Africa.
Matt will enter Pipeline as the 34 seed and has a minimum of two events to prove his worth. If he manages to amass enough points in those two(-plus) events to be within the top-22 after Margaret River, he will be allowed to finish out the 2022 CT season and qualify for 2023.
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