Kelly Slater Rebounds to Claim Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro
Kelly Slater (USA), 37, reigning nine-time ASP World Champion, has claimed the 2009 Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro over an in-form Adriano de Souza (BRA), 22, in clean three-to-four foot (1 metre) waves at the main site of Praia Vila.
Event No. 4 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Hang Loose culminated in a dramatic finale with perennial ASP World Title threats all pushing one other towards the finish line. Despite the Brazilian smashing his way out to an early lead, Slater found his form mid-heat with a 9.27 out of a possible 10 for a series of high-risk maneuvers, exhibiting a near-perfect variety of repertoire. Not satisfied with only one high score, Slater nailed the coffin shut with an 8.67 in a dying minutes to secure his 41st ASP World Tour victory. Nearly pulling out of both the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro and the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay altogether, Slater made a last-minute decision to come to Brazil for the fans, but his journey here was riddled with delayed flights, visa complications and missing baggage. Slater’s win today breaks his worst slump ever as an ASP World Tour campaigner, three 17ths in three events in 2009, and rockets the Floridian from 25th to No. 9 on the ASP World Tour ratings. Although a mountain of challenges still stand between Slater and an unprecedented 10th ASP World Title, today’s victory has re-ignited the competitive fire for him. “I feel like I have all those guys (ASP World Title contenders) right where I want them,” Slater said. “I don’t feel like I have any pressure on me, and I tend to do my best when I have no pressure. We’re coming up on Jeffreys Bay, which is probably my best event historically and hopefully I can build off my result here today.” With the support of Brazil evident in the thousands on the beach, De Souza wasted no time in putting the Floridian on the ropes in their Final, collecting a 6.67 and an 8.00 in the opening half. However, despite an impressive opening, Slater would ultimately eclipse De Souza throughout the back half of the affair, rendering the Brazilian with his second Runner-Up finish of 2009. “I felt like I peaked in the Final,” De Souza said. “I don’t think I could have surfed any better. I thought I had him (Slater), but he’s the nine-time world champ, and you have to be perfect to beat him. I’m still very happy with my Runner-Up finish. It is my second of the year and puts me in a really good position heading into the next event.” Today’s finish advances De Souza from ASP World No. 5 to ASP World No. 2 heading into the next stop on the ASP Dream Tour, rendering the former ASP World Junior Champion (2004) a major threat in the race for this year’s ASP World Title. “It is a huge deal for me to represent my country so well here today,” De Souza said. “I could feel them supporting me on the beach every time I stood up. It was an amazing feeling. I felt strong and confident and I think I made Brazil proud with my performance today.” “When I was a little kid I used to come to the event and dream of competing here,” De Souza said. “To be here today, in front of all my friends and family, competing against my hero in the Final, is a very special moment for me and one I will remember for the rest of my life.” C.J. Hobgood (USA), 29, former ASP World Champion (2001) and current ASP World No. 3, edged past Michael Campbell (AUS), 35, and Mick Fanning (AUS), 28, en route to his first Semifinals berth of the season, but inconsistent conditions would give the nod to eventual winner Slater, resulting in Hobgood’s equal 3rd finish at the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro. Next stop on the 2009 ASP World Tour will be the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay in South Africa from July 9 – 19, 2009.
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