Yesterday saw the world’s top women surfers complete Round’s 2 and 3 of the Billabong Pro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The crowd watched on as the women went head to head in the crucial elimination stages of Round 2, with winners of Round 1 also ready for their Round 3 opportunities to progress further. Stand out performances were in the air, though upsets also occurred for some of the favourites to win.
The contest arena – Barra de Tijuca – photo by ASP
The biggest upset of the day went to Stephanie Gilmore, losing her fight for domination to Brazilian Silvana Lima in Heat 3 of Round 2. “When I saw Silvana in the draw, I knew she would be dangerous because she’s hungry for a win and she’s been injured for a while,” said Gilmore. “She’s also one of the few girls that can do airs consistently.” Ones things for sure, she was right about the airs. Lima pulled off a perfectly executed air reverse in the 2-3 foot conditions at the Barra de Tijuca beach break, the wave that eliminated the 5 times ASP world champion from competition. Other upsets of the Women’s Round 2 saw Alana Blanchard knocked from competition by fellow Kauaian Malia Manuel and Aussie underdog Dimity Stoyle fall to Alessa Quizon.
Brazilian Silvana Lima impressing the local crowds – photo by ASP
Round 3 was also held for the Women’s competition, with crowds going crazy especially for the Brazilian competitors. Silvana Lima used the crowd as a motivational tool going into her heat against American Lakey Peterson and Round 2 winner Malia Manuel. Lima, still feeding off the win over Gilmore, opened strong with a 7.00, creating a strong lead over her opponents. It was Peterson however, in the final 10 minutes who overcame Silvana Lima, boasting a huge turn combination and producing a score of 9.03, enough to take out the heat.
Heat 3 of Round 3 was an all Aussie affair, with Tyler Wright up against Nikki Van Dijk and Laura Enever. Conditions started to fade, with offshore winds flattening a lot of the good waves that had previously come through on offer. Tyler managed to scrape some mid-range scores together through a series of small turns and floaters, overcoming her fellow countryman and progressing through to the Quarter Finals.
Another stand out performance was Sally Fitzgibbons in Heat 4. Fitzgibbons overcame Hawaiian rippers Coco Ho and Tatiana Weston-Webb, helping to keep the Australians in competition. “It was exciting out there today,” said Sally. “I’ve got a few things to work on, but I was really happy to get that 7.00 mid heat and shut it down at the end using my priority well.”
The Men’s competition was on hold yesterday as the Women’s Rounds 2 and 3 ran in the smaller conditions. Heat 1 held on the previous day saw 2011 event winner Adriano de Souza hit the water with Portugal’s Tiago Pires and Hawaiian Sebastian ‘Seabass’ Zietz. Though the crowds support may have been for the Brazilian de Souza, it was Pires who shined, making 2 powerful turns. De Souza and Ziess continued to battle throughout the heat, though managed only to put together combinations of mid-range scores. Pires’ turns proved too much for the other competitors, forcing them to the elimination Round 2 and he progressed directly to Round 3.
Current ASP World Number 1 and a big crowd favourite Gabriel Medina took next to the water in Heat 2 coming up against fellow countryman Roani Monteiro and Aussie Adrian Buchan. Medina wasted no time and exploded into the scene, producing a pair of 6 point rides and a display of great aerial manoeuvres. This proved too much for Monteiro and Buchan, as the World Champion advanced directly through to Round 3.
Aussies Taj Burrow and Adam Melling would next face off with American Brett Simpson in Heat 3 of the opening day. Taj used his veteran tour experience and overcame the others through a series of mid-range scores and powerful turns.
Taj Burrow in Heat 3 – photo by ASP
Heats 4 and 5 proved successful for Aussies Joel Parkinson and young gun Mitch Crews. Joel came up against Jeremy Flores and Ireland’s Glenn Hall in Heat 4, leaving the water victorious and moving through to Round 3. Crews shocked crowds by defeating 11 time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater and Brazilian Peterson Crisanto, and was over the moon with his result. “I knew I had really nothing to lose in that heat and I just wanted to go and surf and I’m just stoked to get my first, first-round win of the year, hopefully it’s (the first) of many” said Crews.
Heat 8 saw defending event champion Jordy Smith face off with Fred Pattachia and Travis Logie. An in form Smith went absolutely mental, tearing apart the small beach break and showing why he is the defending champion of this event. Jordy locked in a combination score of 13.67 through a series of airs, turns and powerful carves while the other two competitors managed only to score mid-range combinations. This allowed Smith to advance directly into Round 3 and continue chasing the vent title for the second year in a row. “These days if you want to win you really have to do everything and throw the kitchen sink at the judges” said Smith, having a sneaky laugh at his own comment.
Other stand out performances included Brazil’s own Filipe Toledo, who absolutely dominated his heat and provided some entertaining surfing for all to enjoy. Toledo blitzed his competition by pulling out two full rotation airs, the two biggest scores of competition so far in Rio. Aussie Julian Wilson did his best to keep up with Toledo, trying to throw out some big punts and airs, though it was simply not enough for the Brazilian, who seemed to be drawing energy from the local crowd.
Aerial master John John Florence also managed to continue to wow audiences through his display of aerial acrobatics. The Hawaiian threw together airs and combinations to wipe tour veteran C.J. Hobgood and Australian Matt Wilkinson in Heat 12.
Hawaiian John John Florence with some aerial acrobatics – photo by ASP
Stay tuned as we keep you up to date with everything from The Billabong Rio Pro. The swell is predicted to continue to rise and this weekend should allow more action to go down at the heavy beach break of Barra de Tijuca. Watch it live at aspworldtour.com or get all your information straight from us at the SurfStitch Blog!