For those watching around the world, Round 1 of Rio started with a faltering stream and absence of sound, instigating a tirade of cyber abuse against the ASP. When the youtube player kicked in, the grumbling continued, this time directed at the mediocre quality of the waves on offer. We shall avoid such arguments for the time being, focusing instead on the freakish talents of a Brazilian teenager named Felipe.
Toledo is like a little cat
Throw him upside down in any-which direction and he'll still land firmly on his feet. In the first five minutes of his heat Felipe threw two huge full rotation reverses, leaving both of his competitors combo'd. Julian Wilson may be recognised for his aerial flair, but he looked firmly out of ideas, attempting rodeos on two foot walls with little success. These conditions are Toledo's childhood playground, and being just 18 years of age, those backwashy ramps and slides are still fresh in his mind. To put the superiority of his performance in context, not a single other competitor broke 15 points on day 1, while Toledo walked away with an 18.3 combined score.
"I'm feeling so good, so comfortable at home," said the feline Brazilian, minutes after taking the win. "I went to California to test some boards, just surfing the average beachbreaks. Not trestles or any of the good waves, because I knew that the waves here aren't so good."
Slater steps off the plane and loses
Kelly arrived in Rio at 6am, dropped his luggage at the hotel, then sped off to Barra to start his heat at 9:30. Surfing a 5'8" five fin, he found couple of wobbly drainers, but Mitch Crews appeared much more in sync with the rhythms of Brazil, finding tubes, ramps and turn sections to secure the win. While he had success at Santa Catarina, he shows no love for this venue, and the nimble Brazilian wildcard, Peterson Crisanto, could prove to be a major obstacle in round 2.
"It's a funny little sandbar [...] The first one is generally the one with some wall, then the second one sucks out too much," said Slater of the conditions. "I think I'm still on a plane right now. I landed at six and surfed the heat at 9:30; impeccable preparation on my part. But really, you could practice out there everyday, then skunked in the heat. It's really tricky."
Upsets keep things interesting
Rio isn't the greatest spectacle on earth, but it certainly takes the sting out of those who normally dominate. Kolohe Andino eliminated Fanning with an airborne waft of hist tail; Jadson Andre saw off Owen Wright and the Spartan; and Tiago Pires found a way past Adriano de Souza. Those who have struggled to post results on the right-point dominated Australian leg are given a lifeline in Rio. If the event does nothing other than assist the stragglers, strengthen competition and destabilise the leaders, then it is still a welcome addition to the tour.
“It’s great to skip Round 2 because I know I’m not going to finish in 25th place,” said Kolohe Andino. “It’s a confidence booster to beat Mick Fanning, the guy who’s just won the last event and the reigning World Champion. For me I’m looking for any reason to get a confidence boost because I haven’t made two heats at one event yet, and that’s what I’m looking for. This year I want to have fun and I trained really hard before the season started. I’m trying to get better every day.”
Medina, John John and Jordy look ominous
Two former winners and the best Brazilian surfer one earth; it was hardly surprising that these three surfers dodged round 2. The thing which unites the three is their apparent love for sucky beachbreaks. While you might picture Jordy and John John gouging through thundering righthand points, or racing tubes at Backdoor, both have been vocal about their affinity for the waves in Brazil, an attitude which cannot be found in the old guard.
“I was going to try and do an air on that last wave, but it had a perfect little barrel on it and I was so happy because I fell on so many waves,” said Florence, who was chasing a score right up to the last 30 seconds of the his heat. “Winning this event was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life and it's the only WCT event I've won. I didn't get to surf last year because of my ankle. I love beachbreaks like this, the people are so passionate and I'm really glad to be back.”
Gilmore Stutters, Carissa and Tyler find a way.
We know that Carissa Moore and Tyler Wright excel on open faced righthand points, but the dredging tubes and ramps of Barra provide a utterly different challenge. Both won their heats, proving themselves more than capable of adaptation. With a lack of solid aerials, and the swell falling in size, the women's competition was lacking excitement. The tension of the title remains, but for the sake of spectacle, we need someone to step up and take flight.
Watch all the all the action on the heat analyser HERE.
Billabong Rio Pro Round 2 Match-ups:
Heat 1: Mick Fanning (BRA) vs. David do Carmo (BRA)
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
Heat 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 5: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 6: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Dion Atkinson (AUS)
Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 8: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Aritz Aranburu (ESP)
Heat 9: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 10: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 11: Sebastian Zeitz (HAW) vs. Jeremy Flores (BRA)
Heat 12: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Billabong Rio Pro Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Tiago Pires (PRT) 9.70, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 9.60, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 6.40
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.53, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 10.17, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 8.87
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 9.60, Brett Simpson (USA) 7.83, Adam Melling (AUS) 7.24
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.67, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.20, Glenn Hall (IRL) 8.67
Heat 5: Mitch Crews (AUS) 13.07, Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 8.53, Kelly Slater (USA) 8.64
Heat 6: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.10, David do Carmo (BRA) 10.30, Mick Fanning (AUS) 10.07
Heat 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) 14.33, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.20, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 10.76
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.67, Fredrick Pattachia (HAW) 12.50, Travis Logie (ZAF) 9.60
Heat 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 18.30, Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.93, Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 10.47
Heat 10: Nat Young (USA) 11.86, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 11.67, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 9.94
Heat 11: Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.13, Owen Wright (AUS) 11.60, Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.03
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) 12.16, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.53, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.80
Rio Women’s Pro Round 2 Match-ups:
Heat 1: Dimity Stoyle (AUS) vs. Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 2: Coco Ho (HAW) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Silvana Lima (BRA)
Heat 4: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)
Heat 5: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Alana Blanchard (HAW)
Heat 6: Pauline Ado (FRA) vs. Paige Hareb (NZL)
Rio Women’s Pro Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 14.20, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 13.47, Coco Ho (HAW) 13.17
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.50, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 9.17, Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 7.24
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 12.77, Paige Hareb (NZL) 12.00, Silvana Lima (BRA) 11.77
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.60, Pauline Ado (FRA) 11.87, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 9.27
Heat 5: Laura Enever (AUS) 11.53, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.60, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 6.20
Heat 6: Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.67, Malia Manuel (HAW) 10.30, Alessa Quizon (HAW) 8.40