WELCOME back to Brazil for the Billabong Rio Pro. The ASP World Tour readies itself for another shootout at the punchy/closey beachbreak peaks of Barra da Tijuca and the alternate site at Arpador, a left capable of echoing caverns.
This another event during which we get to see the men and the women surfing the same venue and prior to the event launch they've been freesurfing out the front of the competition area, attempting to get their bearings on this shifting Rio sand and not a floater in sight.
Are you allowed to say that these spots can be boon or bust? As with all beaches the factors governing any particular wave's surfability i.e. steepness and regularity of the breaking face is a result of combination of factors: swell size and direction, tide, sand deposits on the bathymetry and wind. These peaks are not refined mechanical classics, the offering here is a shorter punchy canvas upon which the high scoring surfers will paint high energy and altogether riskier expressions. Compared to Kirra's tunnels or Bells long considered walls reliant on timing this event should favour those with elastic ankles and plenty of pop.
Round One Matchups:
Heat 1: Josh Kerr (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), TBD
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS), Filipe Toledo (BRA), TBD
Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Miguel Pupo (BRA), TBD
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA), Kieren Perrow (AUS), TBD
Heat 7: Julian Wilson (AUS), Travis Logie (ZAF), Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 8: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Damien Hobgood (USA), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 9: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Nat Young (USA), Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 10: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Kai Otton (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 12: C.J. Hobgood (USA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 1: Lakey Peterson (USA), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), Rebecca Woods (AUS)
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Paige Hareb (NZL), Sage Erickson (USA)
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW), Silvana Lima (BRA), TBD
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW), Phillipa Anderson (AUS)
Heat 5: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Laura Enever (AUS), Alize Arnaud (FRA)
Heat 6: Coco Ho (HAW), Alana Blanchard (HAW), Pauline Ado (FRA)
What Brazil doesn't lack is swell. The forecast is for windy day one cleaning up on day two as the end with still some decent size before a run through to Saturday of promising conditions. Further out there are a few marginal days before the Southern Atlantic grinds back into gear with a powerful swell forecast to hit around the end of next week - perhaps around the final days of competition - if the event is still there? As event forecasts goes it's probably a 3/5 but that could well be a bonus seeing as too much of a good thing can often overwhelm the fragile physics of these beaches.
Rio has it all, the beautiful beaches back onto high rise heaven containing a vibrant culture of contrasting hues. Poverty and opulence rub well moistured cheek against weathered skin and everyone it seems comes to the beach, a melting pot, but one which is itself divided into distinct cultural zoning. The surf industry is here to tap into a rapidly maturing domestic surf scene, looking to gain traction within a growing economy (albiet that economic growth has slowed ove the last months).
Keep up to date with the event here
And the forecast here