Jeff Hubbard: preparing an emergency landing in the flats

Former world bodyboarding champion Ben Player is the first rider to reach the Quarterfinals of the 2012 Itacoatiara Pro, held in sunny, clean 4-foot (1.5 meter) waves.

The Round 2 and 3 of the Grand Slam Series event has been completed and standouts included heat winners, Jose Otavio, Uri Valadao, Eder Luciano, Jared Houston, Alex Uranga and Australians Jake Stone, Mitch Rawlins and Andrew Lester.

Lestr posted the highest heat score of the day, earning himself an impressive 16.78 out of a possible 20 points. Fellow Australian and current number one seed Dave Winchester managed to post the highest single wave score of the day, a 9 point ride for a barrel from take off into a lofty invert and finishing off with a roll.

Even with a nine point ride under his belt, Winchester was unable to top an in form Uri Valadao who accumulated the second highest heat total of 16.51 to take out the heat.

Today's improvement in weather was welcomed by all, as sunny conditions and offshore wind fueled the buzzing influx of spectators. The Brazilian riders enjoyed support of family and friends crowding the waters edge, celebrating good waves and heat wins with cheers and hugs.

Fans and spectators following their idols for autographs and photographs has elevated the top 24 GSS riders and local trialists and wildcards to sporting celebrities. The idyllic Itacoatiara Beach moves into the final stages of the competition.