C.J. Hobgood (USA), 31, notched the highest heat-total of Billabong Rio Pro competition to eliminate Julian Wilson (AUS), 22.
The Billabong Rio Pro returned to Arpoador for the second consecutive day and saw top talent including C.J. Hobgood (USA), 39, and Joel Parkinson (AUS), 30, earn the highest scores of Billabong Rio Pro Competition in clean two-to-four foot (1 metre) lefthanders to complete to Round 2.
Stop No. 3 of 11 on the ASP World Title Series, the Billabong Rio Pro not only plays a vital role in deciding the 2011 ASP World Champion, but is also an important event for competitors looking to solidify their position among the elite ranks prior to the midyear cut.
C.J. Hobgood (USA), 31, unleashed his powerful forehand repertoire on Aproador’s lefthanders in the opening minutes of his match-up against dangerous ASP World Tour rookie Julian Wilson while detonating the highest heat-total of the entire event, 16.50 out of 20. Hobgood’s impressive opening rides proved to be enough to take the win over the progressive Australian despite a late-heat press by Wilson.
“That’s what makes those heats fun to surf and it’s exciting to watch,” Hobgood said. “I have so much respect for Julian (Wilson) because these kids can come back so easily no matter what scores they need. I had a good start and had to be comfortable with my performance win or lose. It was exciting and I’m stoked to make it, I have so much fun surfing against these guys.”
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 30, current ASP World Title No. 2, stuck to his strategy of waiting for the outside set waves and matched the day’s highest single-wave score of a 9 out of 10 for powerful backhand surfing to eventually eliminate fellow countryman Kai Otton (AUS), 31.
“A strategy is a strategy and I had seen a few waves out there,” Parkinson said. “Yesterday the tide came in and just kind of killed me. The wave is pretty tricky here and it’s kind of a dog fight to try and get a wave.”
Adriano de Souza (BRA), 24, rebounded after a close Round 1 loss yesterday and went on an absolute rampage on his backhand in Round 2 to defeat wildcard Ricardo Santos (BRA), 20, with one of the highest heat total of the event, 16.43 out of 20.
“It’s a good rebound after yesterday’s loss and I’m really stoked with my performance out there,” De Souza said. “I just tried to capitalize on Ricardo’s mistake in that heat and was really lucky to find two good waves out there. I’m happy to see all of my friends on the beach, that’s what’s most important for me.”
De Souza used his veteran status on the elite ASP World Tour ranks to calm the nerves that come along with competing in front of his fans, but the passionate Brazilian still admitted he has high expectations for himself at the Billabong Rio Pro.
“When I started the tour I was only 17 and I would be nervous and make mistakes in my heats,” De Souza said. “I’ve been on tour for six years now and I think the experience helps me stay more relaxed and comfortable. Although I’m relaxed, I really hope I can get a good result this year. I was a little disappointed with my performance last year with the 9th and I want to do better at my home event this year.”
Adam Melling (AUS), 26, put in a deadly performance to eliminate Alejo Muniz (BRA), 21, while matching the highest single-wave score of the event of a 9 and expressed the importance of each heat win with the midyear cut rapidly approaching.
“The cut is lingering all year, so it always feels good to get heat wins” Melling said. “We’ve got the two cuts in one year and it’s on everyone’s mind. It can throw you off or you can also use it to fire you up a bit.”
Michel Bourez (PYF), 25, got the best of a hard-fought battle against Arpoador local and event wildcard Simao Romao (BRA). After several wave-for-wave exchanges, Bourez notched a 6.00 on his last ride in the remaining minutes of the heat to overtake the Brazilian talent to earn the Round 2 victory.
“Simao surfs really well and he’s from here,” Bourez said. “It was hard for me to find the right waves out there. I finally got some good scores and made my heat. That was really heavy for me because we were really tight and he had the best score. I realized I really needed a good one and that’s when I got the score.”
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 23, 2010 ASP World Runner-up, looked uncharacteristically sluggish in his Round 2 heat against event wildcard Peterson Crisanto (BRA), 18, but found the scores needed to keep his Billabong Rio Pro campaign alive.
“I don’t know what was going on, usually I kind of go out there and let loose and I was nursing everything,” Smith said. “I was surfing really careful because I didn’t want to blow the waves I got but I ended up blowing them anyway. I’m happy that I made the heat though.”
The Billabong Rio Pro will return to Barra da Tijuca tomorrow morning for a 7am call for a potential 7:30am start for Round 3. To watch the event LIVE log on to www.billabongpro.com