ERICEIRA, Portugal (Thursday, August 28, 2008) - Top seeds took control of the ASP World Qualfying Series (WQS) 6-Star Buondi Billabong Pro Portugal today posting big scores and impressive performances in the good three to four foot (1 to 1.2 meter) waves on offer at Ribeira d'Ilhas, main venue of the 2008 edition. From power carves to floaters, the level displayed definitely pushed the event to its world class standard and fourty-eight men only remain in reach of the prestigious title and the valuable 2500 ratings' points going to the winner.
The international field of competitors managed brought impressive levels and it was current ASP World Tour member Heitor Alves (BRA) who ended up with the highest ride of the event so far, a near perfect 9.87 point wave (out of a possible 10) to advance and make his intentions clear.
"I am very happy to get through that heat because it was not an easy one," Alves said. "The waves were perfect, clean, long and offering great potential so I went for the maximum comitment and it paid off."
Alves, a rookie on this year's ASP World Tour, will soon catch up with all Dream Tour campaigners in California and hopes to leave Europe with solid confidence as the learning so far among the elite has not been easy.
"I am learning on every aspect of my surfing and it is hard sometimes," Alves said. "I feel like I have improved competing against the world's best surfers and am really feeling good and fit. I cannot wait to get next round going."
The Brazilian contingent suffered sevral losses though and their No. 1 representative Leonardo Neves (BRA) had to leave the water in third position after losing to Billabong wildcard holder Ruben Gonzalez (PRT), a well know leading European on the continent.
The beach of Ribeira d'Ilhas slowly filled up throughout the day with all people excited and ready to support the local boy and 2X Buondi Billabong Pro champion Tiago Pires (PRT), current No. 27 on the ASP World Tour.
Tiago Pires, a.k.a Saca, 27, watched he conditions all day getting ready for his start as the public was starting to go off. Pires, who ended up winning his heat with an excellent 15.50 point heat score (out of a possible 20), opened the battle with a 9.00 point ride setting the pace in the first two minutes before securing a good enough back-up score to advance in front of cheering crowd.
"I had a shocker last year at the beach break and I am stoked we got the opportunity to come back here this year because this place is really like my backyard," Pires said. "I was a bit stressed because I really wanted to get this one out of the way. I waited all day, did not have lunch and the longer the day is the hardest it is to deal with the pressure. I am pretty happy."
Pires, who will be much awaited in the "arena" of Ribeira d'Ilhas when Round 4 resumes tomorrow, brought excellent surfing and seems to be keeping his good roll going since he defeated 8X ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) in the last Dream Tour event.
"I am feeling good at the moment but I did not surf as good as I wanted," Pires said. "I know the wave really well and I know where to post the better turns and throw big sprays of water. It went well today in the end so I hope I keep going in the event. Surfing in front of your crowd is just amazing, especially at this place where it feels like you are in a stadium."
Pires will go for an unprecedent third final here this week and will have massive support if he keeps up the good work.
From Yadin Nicol (AUS) to Brett Simpson (USA), including Michel Bourez (PYF), Marlon Lipke (DEU), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Tim Boal (FRA) and Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA), most of the big names were in excellent form on Day 3 of competition and Irish surfer Glenn Hall (IRE) finished the day ahead of the pack with the highest total of the Buondi Billabong Pro Portugal, a 17.00 point tally (out of a possible 20).
"I am pretty happy and feeling good right now after that score," Hall said. "I usually manage to get through a few heats here every year so I am confident. That location is good with big swells and I hope tomorrow does not too much because it gets very tricky under three feet."
Hall, an Australian surfer who now flies the Irish flag in the ASP WQS Top 100, has settled in Europe last year and is looking forward to building up a strong reputation on the European tour.
"All Europeans on tour are very nice to me and I definitely feel good when I travel across the continent to compete," Hall said. "I was in Ireland recently and I am stoked to be representing the country now. There are plenty of kids surfing there and it is great to show the way."
The last fourty-eight surfers in the event will meet at Ribeira d'Ilhas tomorrow at 7.15 AM and twelve four-man battles at least should take place. The event's waiting period runs until Sunday, August 31 and the champion will be crowned then.
UPCOMING ROUND 4 HEATS
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Nic Muscroft (AUS), Pedro Henrique (BRA), Patrick Beven (FRA)
Heat 2: Brad Ettinger (USA), Shaun Cansdell (AUS), Rhys Bombaci (AUS), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 3: Hira Teriinatoofa (PYF), Marco Polo (BRA), TJ Barron (HAW), Marlon Lipke (DEU)
Heat 4: Bobby Hansen (NZL), Bernardo Miranda (BRA), Nathan Hedge (AUS), Glenn Hall (AUS)
Heat 5: Heitor Alves (BRA), Michel Bourez (PYF), Leigh Sedley (AUS), Mikael Picon (FRA)
Heat 6: Yadin Nicol (AUS), Steve Noble (AUS), Tonino Benson (HAW), Wiggoly Dantas (BRA)
Heat 7: Ruben Gonzalez (PRT), Brett Simpson (USA), Corey Ziems (AUS), Anthony Petruso (USA)
Heat 8: Joel Centeio (HAW), Phil MacDonald (AUS), Pablo Paulino (BRA), Mike Losness (USA)
Heat 9: Mason Ho (HAW), Jadson Andre (BRA), Che Stang (USA), Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 10: Eneko Acero (EUK), Gavin Roberts (ZAF), Tiago Pires (PRT), Drew Courtney (AUS)
Heat 11: Dane Gudauskas (USA), Yuri Sodre (BRA), Tanner Gudauskas (USA), Aritz Aranburu (EUK)
Heat 12: Tim Boal (FRA), Greg Emslie (ZAF), Nathan Yeomans (USA), Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA)
ROUND 3 RESULTS
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.16 pts, Brad Ettinger (USA) 12.13 pts, Alain Riou (PYF) 11.83 pts, Joao Guedes (PRT) 8.97 pts
Heat 2: Nic Muscroft (AUS) 15.00 pts, Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 14.66 pts, Jack Perry (AUS), 10.57 pts, Luke Cheadle (AUS) 10.50 pts
Heat 3: Rhys Bombaci (AUS) 13.83 pts, Pedro Henrique (BRA) 13.33 pts, Guilherme Herdy (BRA) 13.17 pts, Marcos San Segundo (EUK) 6.00 pts
Heat 4: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 13.77 pts, Patrick Beven (FRA) 12.33 pts, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 11.50 pts, Kirk Flintoff (AUS) 10.60 pts
Heat 5: Hira Teriinatoofa (PYF) 14.20 pts, Bobby Hansen (NZL) 13.83 pts, Romain Cloitre (REU) 11.67 pts, Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.63 pts
Heat 6: Marco Polo (BRA) 14.27 pts, Bernardo Miranda (BRA) 13.16 pts, Gabe Kling (USA) 12.60 pts, Austin Ware (USA) 12.37 pts
Heat 7: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 12.64 pts, TJ Barron (HAW) 12.50 pts, Shaun Gossman (AUS) 11.53 pts, Kevin Sullivan (HAW) 5.73 pts
Heat 8: Glenn Hall (IRE) 16.33 pts, Marlon Lipke (DEU) 13.90 pts, Paul Fisher (AUS) 11.77 pts, Daniel Ross (AUS) 8.70 pts
Heat 9: Heitor Alves (BRA) 15.60 pts, Yadin Nicol (AUS) 15.40 pts, Nicolau Von Rupp (DEU) 12.50 pts, Andre Silva (BRA) 10.00 pts
Heat 10: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.50 pts, Steve Noble (AUS) 9.50 pts, Antonio Bortoletto (ZAF) 9.33 pts, Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 8.70 pts
Heat 11: Tonino Benson (HAW) 12.27 pts, Leigh Sedley (AUS) 11.76 pts, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 10.50 pts, Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 8.83 pts
Heat 12: Wiggoly Dantas (BRA) 14.93 pts, Mikeal Picon (FRA) 14.67 pts, Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 11.37 pts, James Wood (AUS) 10.26 pts
Heat 13: Ruben Gonzalez (PRT) 13.93 pts, Joel Centeio (HAW) 11.53 pts, Leonardo Neves (BRA) 9.84 pts, Mark Matthews(AUS) 5.90 pts
Heat 14: Brett Simpson (USA) 14.73 pts, Phillipe MacDonald (AUS) 12.00 pts, Adam Robertson (AUS) 8.70 pts, Blake Wilson (AUS) 8.33 pts
Heat 15: Pablo Paulino (BRA) 12.00 pts, Corey Ziems (AUS) 11.73 pts, Simao Romao (BRA) 11.56 pts, Rudy Palmboom (ZAF) 8.16 pts
Heat 16: Mike Losness (USA) 13.60 pts, Anthony Petruso (USA) 12.17 pts, Jihad Khodr (BRA) 9.67 pts, Hugo Savalli (REU) 8.87 pts
Heat 17: Mason Ho (HAW) 14.27 pts, Eneko Acero (EUK) 10.10 pts, David Weare (ZAF) 7.83 pts, Luke Campbell (AUS) 7.77 pts
Heat 18: Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.67 pts, Gavin Roberts (ZAF) 9.17 pts, Dustin Barca (HAW) 8.16 pts, Sunny Garcia (HAW) 3.53 pts
Heat 19: Tiago Pires (PRT) 15.50 pts, Che Stang (USA) 11.50 pts, Jarrad Sullivan (AUS) 10.36 pts, Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 7.40 pts
Heat 20: Drew Courtney (AUS) 15.83 pts, Travis Logie (ZAF) 15.50 pts, Bruno Santos (BRA) 11.93 pts, Josch Schmeltzer (DEU) 9.73 pts
Heat 21: Dane Gudauskas (USA) 15.67 pts, Tim Boal (FRA) 13.33 pts, Warwick Wright (ZAF) 12.53 pts, Abdel El Harim (MAR) 11.67 pts
Heat 22: Yuri Sodre (BRA) 15.83 pts, Greg Emslie (ZAF) 12.17 pts, Adilton Mariano (BRA) 6.75 pts, Milton Morbeck (BRA) 6.27 pts
Heat 23: Nathan Yeomans (USA) 15.93 pts, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 15.67 pts, Adam Melling (AUS) 13.83 pts, Gilmar Silva (BRA) 9.47 pts
Heat 24: Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) 14.97 pts, Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 14.84 pts, Fabio Gouveia (BRA) 11.16 pts, Charles Martin (GLP) 9.26 pts