At the 4th event on the 2012 ASP Prime calendar, 96 of the world’s best surfers battled in epic conditions to begin the Quiksilver Saquarema Prime presented by Coca-Cola. Starting off with the Trials Event at 6:30 am, the competitors encountered perfect conditions with light winds and waves in the 6-8 foot range (2-2.5 meters) at the lefthand point break of Itauna Beach, in Saquarema in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Throughout the day, conditions improved and scores were topped off by Billy Stairmand (NZL) who received the day’s highest heat total of a 17.06 out of a possible 20 points, which included a 9.23 for the highest single wave total in the first day of competition during the Round of 96.
“I’m really happy, the waves are great and I caught one of the long lefts to win that heat,” said Stairmand. “The conditions are excellent and this place is fantastic, a point break with incredible lefts, it’s really good.”
In Heat 4 of the Round of 96, defending 2011 Quiksilver Saquarema Prime event winner Kai Otton (AUS) began with a victory along with Hizunome Bettero (BRA) in 2nd place defeating Kiron Jabour (HAW) and Ruda Carvalho (BRA) respectively.
“Conditions are perfect and the waves are fantastic,” declared Otton. “I’ve been so stoked since yesterday (Monday), when I went for my first surf. It’s really a lot of fun. Conditions this year are better than last year when I won in really choppy and heavy waves. If things continue as they are it’s going to be great and I’m going to do everything I can to win the contest again this year.”
Another ASP veteran to begin with a win was American Damien Hobgood (USA), who won a hard-fought heat along with Bino Lopes (BRA) over J-Bay local Shaun Joubert (ZAF) and the young up and comer, Jesse Mendes (BRA).
“The conditions are really, really good and excellent to compete in,” stated Hobgood. “Without a doubt, I caught one of the best waves I’ve had this year in the world. The waves are perfect, really long lefts and things are classic. Saquarema is incredible, there’s a great area for the surfers, you can really take advantage of the wave and you just have to go out there and do your best. I’m really excited to find such good waves here in Brazil.”
The Top Seed in the Quiksilver Saquarema Prime presented by Coca-Cola, Alejo Muniz (BRA), also began Tuesday with a heat victory with one of the highest scoring waves of the day, a 9.0 out of a possible 10 to qualify into the Round of 48 alongside Romain Cloitre (FRA) and eliminating Cristobal de Col (PER) and Kai Berger (HAW).
“Honestly, for me the only thing that really counted were the last 15 minutes of the heat,” said Muniz. “I knew that I had to surf two solid waves and do as much as I could on them, because if not, I knew I’d lose. I think I got pretty lucky because that good one came in and I surfed it to the end to get that nine and there was still enough time to paddle back out and get another backup wave to win the heat. It was really tough, so I hope the next ones won’t be as bad.”
The number 2 seed of the event, Gabriel Medina didn’t start off as strong, but was able to capitalize on his frontside attack to qualify into the next round with a second place finish behind Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) over Marc Lacomare (FRA) and Caio Ibelli (BRA).
“The important thing is to get into the Round of 48,” said Medina. “I was able to do that and now I just have to loosen up and just surf my next heats more relaxed.”
With $US 250,000 in prize money to be divided among the field, each of the 96 competing surfers will be vying for the 1st place trophy, US$ 40,000 and 6,500 points towards the ASP World Ranking. Competition continues on Wednesday with the first call set for 6:30 am (local time) at Itauna Beach. Heat 18 of the Round of 96 starts off with Willian Cardoso (BRA), Mitch Crews (AUS), Aritz Aranburu (EUK) and Leandro Bastos (BRA) hitting the water.
The Quiksilver Saquarema Prime presented by Coca-Cola is brought together by Adding Sports and sponsored by Coca-Cola and Quiksilver, along with the support of the State of Rio de Janeiro through the Secretary of Sports and Leisure, the City of Saquarema, CCR Via Lagos, 900 Graus, the Saquarema Surfing Association and the Rio de Janeiro Surfing Federation. The Quiksilver Saquarema Prime is an ASP South America sanctioned event and the official media partners are ESPN Brasil, Fluir Magazine and the Waves/Terra website.
The event is live at http://www.ziulscores.com.edgesuite.net/aspsth/saquarema12/
Photo: Defending event champion Kai Otton (AUS) won his opening round heat at the Quiksilver Saquarema Prime today.