ERICEIRA, Portugal (Thursday, August 21, 2008) The Billabong Pro Junior, an Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Grade-2 Pro Junior event, got underway today at the beautiful righthand point break of Ribeira d'Ilhas, home of current ASP World Tour No. 27 Tiago Pires (PRT). Twenty-four heats were wrapped up today and top seeds should be paddling out tomorrow when Round 3 resumes in the afternoon.
Some three foot (one meter) clean waves were peeling over the famous reef allowing first competitors to show the ASP judges their skills and intentions for the second to last event of the year.
Wiggoly Dantas (BRA), 18, recent winner in the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 5-Star event in Great Britain, started his Portuguese campaign in Round 1 after losing in his first heat a couple of days ago in the ASP WQS 6-Star Prime event in France. Dantas impressed with his power and speed against Round 1 competitors before repeating his performance to secure his ticket for the top seeds round.
"I was pretty bumped to lose first heat in France but I am stoked I made it here early," Dantas said. "The waves were pretty good and I was able to get some scores. I am looking forward to competing in Round 3 as the level is really good."
Thiago Camarao (BRA), other Brazilian ripper in the event, posted the highest heat score of the day, an impressive 17.40 point tally (out of a possible 20) including a 9.33 point ride, to shine on Day 1 and steal the show from the European and local surfers.
"I am really happy to get such high scores straight away," Camarao said. "I am trying my best to show my skills. The wave is very long and it is hard to keep things together and take the most of it, you are pretty tired when you finish the ride."
The Brazilian contingent, who will try and defend the title won by fellow competitor Robson Santos (BRA) in 2007, was not left alone in the spotlights today with other overseas surfer Ormond Rangi (NZL) coming up with an exceptional performance as well.
Rangi, only surfer from New Zealand in the event, surfed at every event this summer in Europe and now seems in rhythm among the regional competitors. Rangi, who posted an excellent 16.00 point heat result (out of a possible 20) to advance through to Round 2, could be a serious threat to any top seeds focused on the ASP European Pro Junior championship.
"I am pretty stoked to come out of that heat ahead," Rangi said. "I had a really tough battle with Naoum Ildefonsse (FRA) out there and we struggled to try and secure that second spot. And I made it in the end so it is a great start in the event."
With forecasts looking good for the weekend, top seeds will have the opportunity to counter the Brazilian assault and keep their regional race alive.
All results, news and photos available at www.aspeurope.com
The Billabong Pro Junior is webcast LIVE.