Josh Kerr: shining at Arpoador

The Brazilians were not lucky in the first day of surfing at the 2012 Billabong Rio Pro, played at the Arpoador surf sport. Gabriel Medina, Tomas Hermes, Willian Cardoso, Heitor Alves, Jadson Andre and Raoni Monteiro were relegated to Round 2.


In the clean two-to-four foot (1.5 metre) lefthanders on offer Julian Wilson was in solid form for his opening round bout this morning, posting the day’s highest single-wave score of 9.27 out of 10 en route to attaining the day’s highest heat-total, 17.14 out of 20.

"I got kind of lucky there because Freddy (Patacchia) didn’t go on that wave," Wilson said. "The set before that, Freddy went on the first wave and the one behind was better. I think he was worried about that happening again and when that second set came through, it lined up really well for me".

"I got to my feet straight away, but then saw that the section was still building and wasn’t really there yet. I took my time and squared it up because I really wanted to get strong starts to those waves, keep it clean and not try to rush it."

Taj Burrow was another Australian natural-footer to dominate the lefthander of Arpoador today, netting a 16.16 heat total to advance directly through to Round 3 in convincing fashion.

"It’s always good to get that first round out of the way," Burrow said. "Skipping the second round is a real treat. I hate that round and it was great to catch a couple of fun lefts. It was kind of inconsistent at the start. My board was brand new, so I was a bit nervous, but it went well."

Adriano de Souza, defending Billabong Rio Pro Champion, navigated his way through the Arpoador lineup this morning to take out a close Round 1 victory over Kai Otton and fellow countryman Willian Cardoso.

"It feels good to be here at Arpoador," De Souza said. "I just love this place. I’ve been competing here since I was an amateur and I always love to come back. It’s good to see the WCT here again and it’s got me excited and motivated as well."

With the withdrawal of reigning 11-time ASP World Champion and current frontrunner Kelly Slater from the Billabong Rio Pro, De Souza is one of many poised to take the lead in the race for 2012 crown. However, the young Brazilian admitted Slater’s absence added additional pressure to perform.

"There’s a lot of pressure being defending champion and with Kelly (Slater) not here," De Souza said. "I’m the second seed and could take the lead for the title if I do well here. It’s still too early to really consider the title, but I know the crowd is behind me at this event."