IMBITUBA, Brazil (Saturday, November 1, 2008) - Taj Burrow (AUS) has made it abundantly clear that he made the trek to Brazil to win the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro.
The current World No. 2 amassed the highest heat total of the event to take out former tour surfer Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 18.10 to 13.17 today. If Burrow goes on to win the event, it will mark his fourth ASP World Tour victory in Brazil.
"I'm feeling good and confident, just warming up, feeling my board, the waves and the water, so I'm happy to be here in Brazil," Burrow said. "I really want to win this contest."
Brazil's punchy beach breaks suit Burrow's style perfectly, allowing him to use his aerial antics to delight the fans on the beach and the judges alike. Today was no exception.
"I'm surfing pretty comfortably," Burrow said. "It's good when the jet-skis pick you up and you can surf a lot of waves. It's really fun out there because you can try trick maneuvers and do aerials."
World No. 3 Bede Durbidge (AUS) also made his heat today. Though Durbidge would love nothing more to finish the year second behind nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and ahead of Burrow, he's trying to take it all in stride at the moment.
"I just try to not think too much about it," Durbidge said. "I'm just trying to have fun and enjoy Brazil, so let's see what happens."
Replacement surfer Marco Polo (BRA) free fell to a last minute victory over World No. 12 Kai Otton in the first heat of the day. Otton led the majority of the Round 3 bout, but suffered his third Round 3 loss in as many events when Polo earned an 8.67 with a minute and a half to go.
"It was like a Final," Polo said. "In the end I was out there waiting for a wave, hoping for a big one and then right at the end of the heat I ped in on a set wave, did two maneuvers and finished with a huge floater. It was a very great wave and I very happy to move on."
Leonardo Neves (BRA) equaled his best result of his rookie season by beating Jordy Smith (ZAF) today. Currently sitting No. 39 in the ratings - a big result in Brazil is crucial for Neves to requalify as a Top 27 surfer on the ASP World Tour.
"When I saw Marco Polo turn his heat with the last wave I got a really nice energy from him and I felt confident before my heat," Neves said. "The crowd was rooting for him and then for me, so I thought, 'today is the Brazilian day.' I had luck in my heat and caught two good waves, so I'm stoked. I need a very good result here to go to Hawaii more relaxed and keep my spot on the tour."
The other two Brazilian surfers still in contention for the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro Crown are rookie Heitor Alves and former ASP World Tour surfer and event wildcard Bernardo Miranda.
Fred Patacchia is the only Hawaiian still competing in the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro. He beat Hizunome Bettero (BRA) to lock down a Round 4 duel with lone Californian Timmy Reyes. Florida's Hobgood brothers and North Carolina's Ben Bourgeois round out the Americans still competing.
France's two-man contingent are also still in contention after advancing from Round 3. Jeremy Flores (FRA) earned a 9.80 - the highest single wave score of the event - to beat replacement surfer Marcio Farney (BRA) 17.97 to 12.00. Miky Picon (FRA) beat Mick Campbell (AUS) 15.84 to 12.86.
Guaranteed equal 9th or better results are season-bests for Burgeois and Daniel Ross (AUS). Ross convincingly eliminated Chris Ward (USA) courtesy of a 9.33 in his scoreline today.
"There are some good lefts out there and I picked up a good one, surfed it well and got a good score," Ross said. "To get good waves you have to massacre them. I'm looking to make more heats and I hope to have another good one against Tom Whitaker, we are good mates."
Ross and Whitaker will meet in Heat 3 of Round 4 which may well be held tomorrow. Australian Dayyan Neve is also still surfing the event and is matched up with Miranda in Heat 6.
Another call on competition status will be made tomorrow morning at 7:30am. For more information visit www.aspworldtour.com
Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Marco Polo (BRA) 14.17 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 14.00
Heat 2: Leonardo Neves (BRA) 12.33 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.40
Heat 3: Ben Bourgeois (USA) 13.10 def. Ben Dunn (AUS) 10.60
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 17.97 def. Marcio Farney (BRA) 12.00
Heat 5: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 14.00 def. Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 11.20
Heat 6: Daniel Ross (AUS) 16.83 def. Chris Ward (USA) 13.33
Heat 7: Mikael Picon (FRA) 15.84 def. Mick Campbell (AUS) 12.86
Heat 8: Taj Burrow (AUS) 18.10 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 13.17
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.83 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 11.10
Heat 10: Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.00 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 13.90
Heat 11: Bernardo Miranda (BRA) 14.34 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 13.84
Heat 12: Dayyan Neve (AUS) 12.33 def. Jihad Khodr (BRA) 7.83
Heat 13: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.34 def. Jano Belo (BRA) 7.10
Heat 14: Heitor Alves (BRA) 12.83 def. Roy Powers (HAW) 4.43
Heat 15: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 15.50 def. Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 9.60
Heat 16: Tim Reyes (USA) 13.67 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 5.20
Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro Round 4 Heat Draw:
Heat 1: Marco Polo (BRA) vs. Leonardo Neves (BRA)
Heat 2: Ben Bourgeois (USA) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 3: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Daniel Ross (AUS)
Heat 4: Mikael Picon (FRA) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Damien Hobgood (USA)
Heat 6: Bernardo Miranda (BRA) vs. Dayyan Neve (AUS)
Heat 7: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Heitor Alves (BRA)
Heat 8: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. Tim Reyes (USA)