ADRIANO de Souza claimed his inaugural ASP World Tour win today, taking out the Billabong Pro Mundaka, eliminating fellow finalist Chris Davidson in punchy two-to-three foot waves at the backup venue of Sopelana.
Stop No. 8 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Mundaka experienced an array of conditions for the event, from clean surf on the opening day at Mundaka to a lengthy seven-day wait before a marathon 24-heat session yesterday, culminating into today's dramatic finale.
De Souza, who had previously experienced in the ASP World Junior Championships (winning in 2003) and on the ASP World Qualifying Series winning in 2005), was ecstatic with his inaugural ASP World Tour victory.
"I don't have words to express how happy I am right now," De Souza said. "I have been working so hard for this ever since winning the ASP World Junior Championships and the ASP WQS. To finally win here in Mundaka, where the culture is so rich and the people love surfing so much, is an incredible thing. This is the most special day of my life."
The young Brazilian dominated the crumbling lefthander of Sopelana, racking up an insurmountable 16.40 out of a possible 20 to overtake his Australian opponent, resulting in his history-making win as the first South American to take out the prestigious event win.
"The conditions have been hard for this event but we surfed the best waves that were available to us," De Souza said. "Davo (Chris Davidson) is such a strong surfer and he has been going after a win for so long. When he beat C.J. (Hobgood) in the Semifinals, I knew it was going to be a battle. I was able to get the better waves today and that's why I won."
The victory rockets De Souza into a solid 3rd place on the 2009 ASP World Tour ratings, putting him within striking distance for a shot at the ASP World Title.
"I'm not thinking about the world title right now," De Souza said. "I am just enjoying my win. This is the biggest win of my career and have a lot of confidence heading into the next events."
Davidson, who's varied career amongst the world's best surfers has seen him qualifying and falling off tour multiple times, secured his best ever result today with his Runner-Up finish at the Billabong Pro Mundaka.
"Everything has felt special at this event for some reason," Davidson said. "Everything has clicked and I've felt confident in every heat. Couldn't find the waves in the final, but congrats to Adriano (de Souza) - it's a truly deserving win."
CURRENT ASP WORLD TOUR TOP 10
1 - Mick Fanning (AUS) 6350 points
2 - Joel Parkinson (AUS) 6306 points
3 - Adriano de Souza (BRA) 5773 points
4 - C.J. Hobgood (USA) 5748 points
5 - Bede Durbidge (AUS) 5524 points
6 - Kelly Slater (USA) 5514 points
7 - Taj Burrow (AUS) 5149 points
8 - Bobby Martinez (USA) 4914 points
9 - Taylor Knox (USA) 4816 points
10 - Damien Hobgood (USA) 4794 points
Semi Final One
Kelly Slater, reigning nine-time ASP World Champion, was in stunning form throughout the event despite nursing an Ilio-tibial band strain in his knee, only losing to eventual winner De Souza in a tightly fought semi-final bout.
"The knee felt okay today," Slater said. "It was sore walking downhill but felt okay out in the lineup. I guess I'm still in contention (for the ASP World Title), but we'll see how it pans out."
Semi Final Two
C.J. Hobgood, former ASP World Champion (2001), matched his best result today, finishing equal 3rd and solidifying his position at 4th on the ASP World Tour ratings.
"I'm really stoked for Davo (Chris Davidson), but it's disappointing at the same time," Hobgood said. "I'm happy that I matched my best result this season, but was hoping for better. I felt like I prepared well and surfed conditions similar to this most of the week, but in the end, I couldn't edge into the final."
While it was a bad day at the office for the European tour surfers, 2001 world champion CJ Hobgood along with fellow American Bobby Martinez put on a futuristic display of areal surfing.
Still in mathematical contention for the 2009 world title, defending Billabong Pro champion Hobgood reached into his bag of tricks to defeat Australian tour rookie Nic Muscroft. Locking in an 8.17 on his second ride to take an early lead, the fast surfing Floridian cemented victory with a 6.83.
Duel Billabong Pro champion (2006/2007) Bobby Martinez showed why he is considered the man to beat at Mundaka by posting a near perfect 9.67 against compatriot Chris Ward. Launching a huge front side aerial which had the Spanish crowd on their feat, the current world number nine never looked like losing, his combined total of 16.84 setting the standard for the round.
Heavy hitting Hawaiian Keka Becalso caused the elimination of the aerial machine Dane Reynolds in round two, using his own brand of power surfing to outclass his opponent's aerial antics. The former world junior champion surfed patiently in the 35-minute heat to score an 8.00 and a 5.33 while his opponent Reynolds notched up 10 low scoring rides. He will now face CJ Hobgood in round three.
Tahitian Michel Bourez and French surfer Michael Picon both lost out in their respective second round heats. Bourez lost to South African super freak Jordy Smith whilst Picon went down convincingly to Australian world number four Bede Durbidge.
Only half a round was surfed on the first day of competition as Mundaka promised to deliver barrels but just fell slightly short. It took almost another week for the comp to be called on again. On day one the event was called off by lunch. Highlight of the day was Kai Otten against Reubyn Ash who wowed the crowd with some excellent aerials, falling just short of a rampaging Otten.
Watch it live HERE.