World’s Best Battle Elimination Round 2 at Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro
The elimination Round 2 of the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro was completed Sunday, with the world’s best surfers tearing into the four-to-six foot (2 metre) waves on offer at Praia Vila.
Event No. 4 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro enjoyed sunnier weather and marginally better manageable ocean conditions for Round 2, allowing for some electrifying performances. Jordy Smith (ZAF), 21, former ASP World Junior Champion (2006) and current ASP World No. 6, was devastating this morning during his Round 2 bout against Ben Bourgeois (USA), 30. Building momentum throughout the heat, Smith exploded with the day’s highest single-wave score of a 9.00 out of a possible 10 for a barrage of fully committed power turns on his forehand. “It’s still pretty tough out there and it’s difficult to find a spot to line up,” Smith said. “There are some pretty good waves coming through the bowl though and if you can get on them, you can open up a bit. I just got lucky with my wave selection and was able to put up a couple of scores.” Long-touted as one of the most progressive surfers on the planet, Smith struggled during his rookie season on the ASP Dream Tour, finishing 26th in 2008. Since then, the South African has re-ignited through the opening events this year, collecting two ninths and a third en route to his current ASP World No. 6 rating. Smith will face 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie Dustin Barca (HAW), 27, in Round 3 of the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro when competition resumes. Kelly Slater (USA), 37, reigning nine-time ASP World Champion, has struggled in 2009, collecting three consecutive 17th place finishes resulting in his current ASP World No. 25 rating. Despite a Round 1 loss yesterday, Slater rallied in Round 2 of the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro, dominating the righthanders to edge past wildcard Bernardo Miranda (BRA). “I’ve been feeling a bit burned out on competition and I wasn’t planning on coming to Brazil or Jeffreys Bay,” Slater said. “I was planning on spending a bit of time with my family, but I spoke with Renato (Hickel) and he told me that all the fans in Brazil were looking forward to it, so I decided to come and make the journey down here.” Running into setbacks with delayed flights, visa issues and missing baggage, Slater arrived only hours before yesterday’s Round 1 heat, eventually going down to compatriot Tim Reyes (USA), 27, on borrowed equipment. With his surfboards arriving late last night, Slater looked well in-form this morning, even executing an impressive aerial 360 on his forehand. “Well, it took me about three days to get to Brazil and my boards didn’t event show up until 11pm last night,” Slater said. “I’ve definitely been tinkering with my equipment this season, and the board I’m on is actually one I shaped – it’s an asymmetrical, swallow-tail quad-fin. It worked pretty well out there, but the conditions are tough. There’s not really a defined bank out there, so really anyone can win.” Despite a slow start in 2009 and the absence of his renowned competitive drive, Slater acknowledges the possibility of a turning point here at the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro given his history in Brazil (rallying against Andy Irons in 2003, winning the ASP World Title in 2007). “I think it was pretty obvious yesterday who was surfing well,” Slater said. “Joel (Parkinson) and Mick (Fanning) got some really good waves, but really anybody can win out here. I’ve had some good moments here in the past and hopefully I can spark something here and get on a bit of a roll. I’m happy to get through a heat and we’ll see what happens in Round 3.” Slater will battle Ben Dunn (AUS), 23, in Round 3 when Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro competition recommences.
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