Emotions ran high as Adriano De Souza, 24, (BRA) came out triumphant at the Billabong Rio Pro, Brazil, against Taj Burrow, 32, (AUS) in tricky conditions at Burra de Tjucua. De Souza, one of the inform surfers for the whole event, had the crowd on his side at his local home in Brazil, with thousands flocking to the beach to see their local hero surf his way to victory.
After a week of consecutive lay-days, event 3 of 11 in the men’s ASP World Tour 2011 was finally underway, with conditions testing surfer’s abilities at backup location Arpoador during the first and second day, and then home location Burra Tjucua for day three and four.
De Souza was on fire throughout the whole event, only having minor upsets in rounds 1 and 4, luckily for him, they weren’t elimination rounds. He faced some challenging opponents, including Michel Bourez in round 5, who had previously knocked out 10x World Champion Kelly Slater in round 3.
With event organizers looking to wrap the event up quickly, the boys had to be selective of their waves in order to score good results from the judges. Burrow was quick to score, with his first wave of the final landing him a 7.0, but struggled to find anything substantial to back it up. De Souza waited patiently, and used his home break knowledge to score an 8.0 and a 7.63, giving him a total of 15.63 for the final. The crowd was behind De Souza all the way, cheering his every ride, and cheering when Burrow came unstuck. They wanted their golden boy to win.
Jeremy Flores, 23 (FRA) was another in-form surfer throughout the event, who looked fierce in the opening rounds, taking down anyone in his path, until round 4 where he met Joel Parkinson, 30 (AUS) who was later knocked out in round 5 by Burrow.
Australian Bede Durbidge, 28, also surfed well, and was possibly the dark horse of the event, until he met with De Souza in the semi final. Frustration was evident, as the tricky conditions saw De Souza leave the water triumphant. Durbidge spoke with ASP after his event and said ‘Adriano’s got the whole crowd going for him with a lot of energy and he’s fired up and we just had the worst heat’.
Michel Bourez, 25 (PYF) had a lucky escape in round 5, needing the jetski assist to help him back to shore after coming off a wave the wrong way. Event medical staff played it safe and sent him off to hospital in an ambulance to make sure everything was alright.
However, the light was still on Brazil’s hero Adriano. The $100,000 prize money and 10,000 ASP ranking points bolstered De Souza into the number one position on the leader board, overtaking Parkinson who now sits in second position, and Kelly Slater (USA) in third. De Souza is the first Brazilian in history to be in the number one position on the WCT tour.
The next event takes the men to the J-Bay (formally known as Jefferies Bay), South Africa for the Billabong Pro. Last year Jordy Smith (ZAF) won the event in front of his home crowd. Can he do it again? View all the live action from when the event kicks off on July 14th – 24th.
For highlights from the Billabong Rio Pro and heats on demand, visit; http://www.billabongpro.com