Tiago Pires 

With the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Azores Islands Pro crowning its champion tomorrow, all remaining surfers were psyched today to deliver their best performance and keep the title chase alive, knowing a win in this first ever ASP sanctioned event in the Azores would go down in surfing history books. From current ratings’ leaders to the few remaining outsiders, performance went through the roof today with massive airs and power surfing displayed by the variety of styles seen in the water, rising stars shining along with experienced soldiers.

Today’s action took the event down to its final-four contenders, the remaining heats of Round 4 being followed by the eight battles of Round 5 before moving into the exciting Quarterfinals where the levels of surfing left everyone breathless, wrapping-up an intense show, with Tiago Pires (Ericeira, PRT) dominating the day in the final bout against ASP World Junior champion Kai Barger (HAW) with a 18.00 point heat total.

Pleasing his Portuguese fans, the current ASP Top 45 member, 28, closed the show with a series of 8.50 and 9.50 point rides, the national surf star a.k.a the Portuguese Tiger advancing through to the Semifinals where he will be the favorite. Pires, who had scored the only perfect 10.00 point ride of the event earlier in the day, was in unstoppable form getting an immense support from the hundreds of spectators on the beach to keep his roll going before tomorrow’s showdown.

“I knew I was surfing against a fast and talented surfer and that the wave choice would make the difference,” Pires said. “I waited patiently and went for big turns on the couple of rides that came through and it went well. The energy of the crowd made it just awesome again and I can’t wait to surf tomorrow and I hope more people will come down to the beach.”

Pires, whose last appearance in an event in Portugal was in April, reminded how much surfing at home could make a difference for him, the motivation and exceptional surfing he displayed making his intentions clear for a possible historical win Sunday, August 30. Coming back from a shoulder injury and readying for the upcoming ASP World Tour event at Trestles, Pires confirmed he was back for good.

“The shoulder is better and I am just really pumped for this event,” Pires said. “I have been hanging out with Patrick (Beven) and Sunny (Garcia) this week showing them around and it’s been a great time as I have a lot of respect for Sunny and it’s positive energy for sure.”

William Cardoso (Santa Catarina, BRA), 23, finished one of the “Most Valuable Surfers” of the day for besting favorites Tanner Gudauskas (California, USA) and Jarrad Howse (New South Wales, AUS) to advance through to the Semifinals.

Cardoso, whose last high performance in Europe was at Pantin last year where he won the ASP WQS 5-Star competition in solid surf, showed the conditions of Ribeira Grande suited his style and tactics, the Brazilian strong competitor finding an impressive 15.50 point heat result (out of a possible 20) to oust Howse and grab a minimum 1825 ratings’ points before tomorrow’s showdown.

“I am pretty stoked here and it’s already my best result this year so I couldn’t expect for more today,” Cardoso said. “It’s been a week of consistent surf and warm water and good waves so it’s coming to an end pretty well for me. I’ve had tough heats in this event with the Gudauskas brothers, Raoni (Monteiro) and now Jarrad (Howse) and it’s a great confidence boost to make it this far.”

Cardoso, who came to the Azores Islands Pro ranked No. 31 on the ASP WQS ratings, remains in position to jump-up the ratings and keep his ASP Top 45 hopes alive and tomorrow will be a crucial day for the 23-year-old Brazilian.

“I feel like the waves definitely suit my surfing and if you can get a left that walls up enough, a couple of solid backhand turns will make the difference,” Cardoso said. “The ratings’ Top 30 is really close at this stage and I have the clear intention of making it to the top this year. There’s an opportunity here to grabe some serious points and another couple of events after that so I am pretty psyched-up.”

Achieving a great result today was California’s last representative in the event Austin Ware (California, USA), the current ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) No. 13 already guaranteed to better his overall points total after securing his Semifinals’ berth. Ware, who escaped a close battle with experienced competitor Travis Logie (Durban, ZAF), 30, was able to surf through to two rounds today eliminating other former ASP World Tour member Bernardo Miranda (BRA) en route to the Quarterfinals.

“I am keeping my roll going and this is the best result I have had in Europe since the final I made in Pantin against Patrick (Gudauskas) in 2006,” Ware said. “I am pretty stoked right now, I had a fifth in Lacanau and I am in for the final day and I am looking forward for some more heats tomorrow.”

Ware, who showed he was able to contain the assaults of his opponent with smart heat tactics, ended with an average heat result of 11.57 points (out of a possible 20) which was enough to confirm his solid performance since the start of the week and go home before paddling back out with his contest singlet on against fellow Semifinalist and power-surfer William Cardoso (BRA).

Other WQS front-runner Dusty Payne (Oahu, HAW) was eliminated today with an equal 5th securing 1625 points that will make a significant difference for his rank in the international WQS hierarchy. Three heats remain before the Azores Islands Pro wraps-up and crowns its first ever champion tomorrow. The call is set at 9.30 AM.
 
The ASP WQS 6-Star Azores Pro is webcast LIVE at www.aspeurope.com, where all news, photos and results are available.

AZORES ISLANDS PRO UPCOMING SEMIFINALS
Heat 1: Austin Ware (USA) Vs William Cardoso (BRA)
Heat 2: Jadson Andre (BRA) Vs Tiago Pires (PRT)

AZORES ISLANDS PRO QUARTERFINALS RESULTS
Heat 1: Austin Ware (USA) 11.57 pts Def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 11.14 pts
Heat 2: William Cardoso (BRA) 15.50 pts Def. Jarrad Howse (AUS) 8.76 pts
Heat 3: Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.27 pts Def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 0.00 pts
Heat 4: Tiago Pires (PRT) 18.00 pts Def. Kai Barger (HAW) 12.83 pts

AZORES ISLANDS PRO ROUND 5 RESULTS
Heat 1: Austin Ware (USA) 12.60 pts Def. Bernardo Miranda (BRA) 9.26 pts
Heat 2: Travis Logie (ZAF) 13.13 pts Def. Dion Atkinson (AUS) 11.83 pts
Heat 3: William Cardoso (BRA) 13.93 pts Def. Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 11.73 pts
Heat 4: Jarrad Howse (AUS) 13.67 pts Def. Jayke Sharp (AUS) 12.74 pts
Heat 5: Jadson Andre (AUS) 14.77 pts Def. Owen Wright (AUS) 11.84 pts
Heat 6: Dusty Payne (HAW) 8.77 pts Def. Brent Dorrington (AUS) 7.80 pts
Heat 7: Tiago Pires (PRT) 10.60 pts Def. Royden Bryson (ZAF) 10.24 pts
Heat 8: Kai Barger (HAW) 15.03 pts Def. Jean-Sebastien Estienne (BLM) 9.90 pts


SOURCE: ASP Europe