- 19 June 2009 | Surfing
Fresh off the Australian and South Pacific legs of the 2009 ASP World Tour, the world’s best surfers are preparing for ASP Dream Tour Stop No. 4 of 10, the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro in Brazil from June 27 to July 5, 2009, with the Australian ASP World Title contenders leading the charge.
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, current ASP World No. 1, has had an extraordinary start to his 2009 campaign, winning the opening two events of the season before collecting an equal 9th place finish in Tahiti. Despite being the ratings frontrunner, Parkinson has been kept his focus on the present, concentrating on the event at hand.
“I don’t focus on the ASP World Title when I am at an event,” Parkinson said. “I put a lot of time and effort into what I am doing away from the contests so that I am in the best physical, technical and mental shape possible. This way, I come into an event ready, relaxed and with a sense of purpose.”
Although having experienced a range of results in Brazil from as high as 3rd to as low as 17th, Parkinson is entering this season’s competition with renewed vigor, partially stemming from the rescheduling of the event from October in past years to June/July this year.
“I haven’t been as consistent in Brazil as I would have liked,” Parkinson said. “This probably has a bit to do with when the event has fallen in the calendar year in the past, but I know I can do well there and that gives me confidence. Logistically, the rescheduling of the event works out well. We lost the Fiji event this year and are going straight to South Africa afterwards so the travel is much easier to manage. It will be interesting being in Brazil in winter as we are used to the Carnival atmosphere that Brazil creates in October when the sun is shining. This will be a critical event in the year’s point score.”
Bede Durbidge (AUS), 26, defending Hang Loose Champion and 2008 ASP World Runner-Up, hasn’t had a dream start to his 2009 ASP World Tour campaign. Following a solid 5th place finish at the opening event of the year, Durbidge has since suffered two uncharacteristic 17th place finishes to result in his current ASP World No. 14 rating.
“I haven’t had the start I have wanted,” Durbidge said. “I opened up okay at the Gold Coast with that 5th, then at Bells, I had a really tough heat against Adam Robertson (Robbo). Then in Tahiti, I drew Andy (Irons) first heat, and he is the master of Teahupoo, and he also got the better of me. I feel like I’m surfing well, but I have just lost really close heats which could have gone either way. I’m just staying positive and I know my year will turn around really soon.”
A potential cause of Durbidge’s struggles is the implementation of the new ASP format in 2009. With this season’s ASP Dream Tour events having a menu of formats to choose from, the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro Brazil has elected to use the traditional format, the first event to do so since the season opener on the Gold Coast.
“The new format has its pros and cons,” Durbidge said. “It’s good for only taking three days to run and making the most of the swells we get during a waiting period. On the other hand, you don’t get that Round 1 to warm up and feel things out. Personally, I like the old format so I think it’s great Brazil is using the old format. The waves are pretty consistent this time of year there too.”
Having won the event in 2008, the powerful Australian will look to jumpstart his 2009 ASP World Tour campaign with a repeat performance this season.
“Last year, I felt really comfortable there,” Durbidge said. “I had a really good board and we had pretty fun waves all event – it was about three-to-five foot. When it’s above four-foot, it turns into a running right that really suits my style. Apparently, by moving it to earlier in the year, we will get better conditions so I think it’s good and everyone will be there because the title race is still well and truly alive.”
Mick Fanning (AUS), 27, former ASP World Champion (2007) and current ASP World No. 3, is hot on the heels of the current frontrunners in this year’s ASP World Title race, having acquired a 3rd, a 5th and a 9th in the opening three events of the season.
“I’m pretty comfortable with how I’m traveling this year,” Fanning said. “I’m feeling strong and I’m happy with how I’m surfing. I would have loved a better result in Tahiti, but the surf was average and it wasn’t to be. The next couple of stops are important and I’ll be looking to get a win on the board. Brazil is one of my best events so hopefully I can get a win there and narrow Parko’s lead on the ratings.”
A two-time past winner in Brazil (2006, 2007), Fanning will look for another solid finish to hone in on Gold Coast stable-mate Parkinson.
“I love the atmosphere when competing in Brazil,” Fanning said. “The crowds there are huge and that always gets me psyched to perform. The waves for the event are typical beach break type set-ups. I grew up surfing Duranbah so I’m comfortable surfing sand-bottom waves. In the past, the ASP World Title has been all but wrapped up by the time we get to Brazil so, at times, big results there haven’t meant a great deal. Now that it’s earlier in the schedule, we could see some of the guys that do well in Brazil get on a bit of a roll earlier in the year and join the title race.”
Despite his history in Brazil and solid performances thus far in 2009, Fanning knows that the competition in South America will be tough.
“I think Taj Burrow will be hard to stop,” Fanning said. “He’s won three events in Brazil and he looked sharp on the open face in Tahiti. Adriano de Souza is another one to watch. He’s having another great year and he’ll be getting major support from the crowd. The other guy to watch is Bede Durbidge. He’s the defending event champ and he’s looking for a big result to get back up toward the top of the ratings after two 17th.”
The Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro will host the ASP Top 45 from June 27 to July 5, 2009.