BARRA DA TIJUCA, Rio de Janeiro/Brazil: The Billabong Rio Pro and Rio Women’s Pro presented by Billabong, Stop No. 4 on the 2014 Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour, got underway last night in 3 foot (1 metre) surf and ran through Men’s and Women’s Round 1. There were upsets as top seeds Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater and Stephanie Gilmore were defeated while Filipe Toledo was the standout performer of the day.
Current ASP World No. 1 and crowd favorite Gabriel Medina (BRA) wasted little time in opening his Billabong Rio Pro campaign, etching a pair of 6-point rides to start. Fellow countryman Raoni Monteiro (BRA) answered back, notching a strong 7.50 of his own while Adrian Buchan (AUS) picked off a few small rides. Medina built momentum, blending his polished technical approach and his aerial game on both his forehand and backhand, strengthening his lead over the pack. Medina held on to the win and advances directly to Round 3.
“It’s really important to me to have a contest here in Brazil because the crowds are amazing and I have my family and friends here,” said Gabriel Medina. “It feels really good to be back home after the Australian leg and for Brazil, this contest is huge. I’m trying to do my best and I don’t feel the pressure.”
Kolohe Andino (USA) took full advantage of the no-wave-limit to claim his first Round 1 win of 2014. Hitting a keeper score of 6.17 with a draining barrel ride while reigning three-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) and wildcard David do Carmo (BRA) tried to make the most of the subsiding swell. Andino worked his aerial game, posting a 6.0 with a clean grab while Fanning and do Carmo scrambled for mid-range scores. With just a few minutes remaining Andino added to his heat total with a 6.93, wrapping up the heat with the win after almost 20 scores.
“It’s great to skip Round 2 because I know I’m not going to finish in 25th place,” said Kolohe Andino. “It’s a confidence booster to beat Mick Fanning, the guy who’s just won the last event and the reigning World Champion. For me I’m looking for any reason to get a confidence boost because I haven’t made two heats at one event yet, and that’s what I’m looking for. This year I want to have fun and I trained really hard before the season started. I’m trying to get better every day.”
11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) established an early lead over rookie Mitch Crews (AUS) and wildcard Peterson Crisanto (BRA), with a 4.43 and 3.67 on his forehand. Crews quickly battled back, making a critical barrel on his forehand for a 7.57. The Australian soon backed up his efforts on another righthander, lofting a clean frontside air for a 5.50, placing both Crisanto and Slater in need of excellent scores. The pair were unable to find the waves needed to surpass Crews for the win.
“Kelly (Slater) got the first wave in that Heat and I sat there for about 8 minutes and didn’t get anything,” said Mitch Crews. “I just wanted to catch as many waves as possible and surf as well as I could but it’s challenging out there. I’ve surfed against Peterson a lot in the ASP Qualification Series. I’m stoked to get my first Round 1 win and hopefully this is the first of many.”
Defending event winner Jordy Smith (ZAF) took a progressive approach to maximize wave potential. In the final minutes of the first half, Smith racked up two keeper scores. A combination of carves, an air reverse, and a closing rail-carve scored him a 6.67 and he advanced his lead on his next wave with a 7.0 for quality rail-surfing capped off by a clean backhand reverse. Smith’s heat combatants Fred Patacchia (HAW) and Travis Logie (ZAF) posted average scores early on and a long lull in workable conditions left them wanting. With just under five minutes to go Patacchia ducked into a barrel and stomped a powerful carve for 6.27, but neither the Hawaiian nor Logie could overcome Smith’s early lead.
“Rio was my first event win outside of Africa,” said Jordy Smith. “I’m happy with performance in my first Heat. I love the waves here. They give you hollow and fun sections and the waves feel a lot like Durban. You can never count out Trav (Travis Logie) and Freddy (Patacchia), they’re both lethal, so I’m glad I got the win.”
Heat 9 hosted an aerial shootout between Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Julian Wilson (AUS) while Aritz Aranburu (ESP) relied on backhand power surfing. Toledo posted the highest scores of Billabong Rio Pro competition so far for two full-rotation, no grab, frontside airs. The Brazilian’s scores of 8.77 and 9.43 left both Wilson and Aranburu in a combination situation despite solid efforts of their own. Toledo’s air show continued, vaulting an additional 8.87 to cap off a dominant Round 1 win and secure his place in Round 3.
“It’s so good to be here in Brazil and competing at home in front of all the crowds and my friends and family,” said Filipe Toledo. “My board is feeling good and I’m feeling really comfortable. The Brazilian crowd is great for me and it’s amazing to be here. When I’m surfing and I hear the crowd cheering it really motivates me.”
The battle between John John Florence (HAW), C.J. Hobgood (USA) and Matt Wilkinson (AUS) got off to a slow start with all three competitors logging small scores throughout the first half of the heat. Wilkinson stomped a committed forehand punt, overtaking Florence for the lead but while the Australian was on his way to his first Round 1 win of the season, a flurry unfolded in the dying minutes. Florence capitalized on a last-second barrel and executed perfectly, posting a 6.33, overtaking Wilkinson for the lead. Hobgood was on the following wave, but the goofy-footer’s 5.17 fell shy of the score needed and Florence relegated Wilkinson and Hobgood to Round 2 while he sails through to Round 3.
“I was going to try and do an air on that last wave, but it had a perfect little barrel on it and I was so happy because I fell on so many waves,” said John John Florence. “Winning this event was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life and it’s the only WCT event I’ve won. I didn’t get to surf last year because of my ankle. I love beachbreaks like this, the people are so passionate and I’m really glad to be back.”
2012 Rio Women’s Pro winner Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), took on rookies Johanne Defay (FRA), and Dimity Stoyle (AUS) in a heat that began with a flurry of exchanges. While the three were unable to post any excellent rides, Fitzgibbons put her veteran experience to good use, picking off crucial set waves, leading the heat from start-to-finish.
“I definitely feel settled out there,” said Sally Fitzgibbons. “It took a few days to adjust with the time difference, but my boards are feeling good and I feel like I’ve got a good beat on the bank. That heat was a tricky. I don’t know if it was the turn of the tide, but it felt a bit slow. We got to open up quick, but then it went a bit quiet, so hopefully in the next one I have a little more rhythm.”
Paige Hareb (NZL) found a rhythm first in Heat 4, scoring a 6.50 on a series of cutbacks but was immediately overtaken by Carissa Moore (HAW) who made the most of a two-carve wave, lifting her fins above the lip. In the second half of the Heat, Moore found a curtain to work with, accomplishing the first barrel in the women’s event and improving her combined score by a point. Hareb answered back, chasing down a solid double combo wave to close the margin but remained in second place. Moore kept pace, using progression to maintain the lead through the horn and take the win and relegating Hareb and wildcard Silvana Lima (BRA) to Round 2.
“I definitely did not feel safe at all during that Heat,” said Carissa Moore. “I was just trying to focus on myself and catch some good waves and luckily it worked out. I’m trying not to think about being at the top of the rankings too much but of course there is some pressure, mainly pressure that I put on myself. I’m really excited to be here and I’m having a good time so far.”
Heat 5 saw a battle between five-time ASP Women’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Laura Enever (AUS) and Alana Blanchard (HAW). The affair got off to a slow start, with Gilmore establishing an early lead for a few small scores. Gilmore’s small lead left the door open for a new frontrunner and Laura Enever capitalized, belting a solid 6.83, overtaking Gilmore for the lead. The three stayed busy throughout the final minutes of the Heat, but Enever held on for the win and her first Round 1 victory of the year.
“I was trying and trying and finally I got a 6,” said Laura Enever. “After that I was trying to back up my 4 point ride. I was surfing against Stephanie (Gilmore) and we were at opposite ends of the bank. I think everyone was just trying to do what they could. I didn’t know what to expect from Steph, so I was just trying to do my own thing and it worked out.”
Billabong Rio Pro Round 2 Match-ups:
Heat 1: Mick Fanning (BRA) vs. David do Carmo (BRA)
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
Heat 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 5: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 6: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Dion Atkinson (AUS)
Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 8: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Aritz Aranburu (ESP)
Heat 9: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 10: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 11: Sebastian Zeitz (HAW) vs. Jeremy Flores (BRA)
Heat 12: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Billabong Rio Pro Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Tiago Pires (PRT) 9.70, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 9.60, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 6.40
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.53, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 10.17, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 8.87
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 9.60, Brett Simpson (USA) 7.83, Adam Melling (AUS) 7.24
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.67, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.20, Glenn Hall (IRL) 8.67
Heat 5: Mitch Crews (AUS) 13.07, Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 8.53, Kelly Slater (USA) 8.64
Heat 6: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.10, David do Carmo (BRA) 10.30, Mick Fanning (AUS) 10.07
Heat 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) 14.33, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.20, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 10.76
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.67, Fredrick Pattachia (HAW) 12.50, Travis Logie (ZAF) 9.60
Heat 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 18.30, Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.93, Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 10.47
Heat 10: Nat Young (USA) 11.86, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 11.67, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 9.94
Heat 11: Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.13, Owen Wright (AUS) 11.60, Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.03
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) 12.16, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.53, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.80
Rio Women’s Pro Round 2 Match-ups:
Heat 1: Dimity Stoyle (AUS) vs. Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 2: Coco Ho (HAW) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Silvana Lima (BRA)
Heat 4: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)
Heat 5: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Alana Blanchard (HAW)
Heat 6: Pauline Ado (FRA) vs. Paige Hareb (NZL)
Rio Women’s Pro Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 14.20, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 13.47, Coco Ho (HAW) 13.17
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.50, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 9.17, Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 7.24
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 12.77, Paige Hareb (NZL) 12.00, Silvana Lima (BRA) 11.77
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.60, Pauline Ado (FRA) 11.87, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 9.27
Heat 5: Laura Enever (AUS) 11.53, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.60, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 6.20
Heat 6: Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.67, Malia Manuel (HAW) 10.30, Alessa Quizon (HAW) 8.40
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