Hodei Collazo: a Spanish navigator

Hodei Collazo (Zarautz, EUK) 26, won the ASP 6-Star Quiksilver Pro Portugal over good friend, Gony Zubizarreta (Vigo, ESP) 25, in a high scoring, tight final to claim his maiden Star-Series victory at the main event site of Ribeira D’Ilhas.

Opening his account with an 8.50 out of ten and then backing it up with an 8.17, Collazo had his opponent in a combination situation early in the battle and looked to be on his way to a comfortable win. Zubizarreta had other ideas and answered back with an 8.90, to get back in the fight with five minutes remaining.

Without priority, Collazo had to watch on as Zubizarreta played his last card on his last wave in the final minute. Coming up short by the nearest of margins, a mere 0.20 of a point, the Quiksilver Pro Portugal 2010 title was in the grasp of an emotional Collazo.

“This is an amazing feeling and I can’t describe how it feels to win an event like this. I have never gone further than the quarters, so to be in the final with my best friend and to win it is the best thing that has happened to me.”

Taking out World Tour campaigner, Jeremy Flores (FRA) in the quarter-finals, Collazo grew in confidence and knew that this was his moment.

“I have had so much support from all the people here and also from all the people at home. It is really special and I want to say thanks to all of them for their support. I have taken the whole event heat by heat and tried not to think about my opponents and just focus on my surfing and the work ahead to be done.”

In a somewhat different approach to such a major final, Collazo explains their pre-final preparations.

“It was a different final because we tossed a coin to see who would have the first wave. Normally you are really stressed and earlier there was a lot of pressure in the quarters and the semis but in the final we were talking and looking back to the beach amazed at all the people who had come down to watch us.”

Runner-up, Gony Zubizarreta was on a roll this morning after eliminating ASP Dream Tour surfer and local favorite Tiago Pires (PRT) in the quarter-finals with another come from behind performance. Smashing out a 9.87, the highest single wave score of the event, Zubizarreta threatened to go all the way.

“The heat against Tiago was amazing. I managed to catch the bomb and get that score which got me back into the heat. For me it was an honor to be up against him at his home break and to win that heat was really special.”

In the final, Zubizarreta managed to claw his way back to create a dramatic final stage to the 40-minute clash. With no remorse, Zubizarreta was pleased with his ‘never say die’ attitude.

“I didn’t surf so well at the beginning and then I got that good one so I thought I was still able to get another one. The last wave came and I surfed the best I could but it was close. I think the judge’s decision in the end was correct. It was close and I am very happy for Hodei.”

Leonardo Neves (Saquarema, BRA) 30, finished in equal third to achieve his best result in Europe this year. Coming up against an inform Hodei Collazo, the Brazilian made a crucial error losing priority and had to stand by and watch as the win escaped from his grasp.

“I ended up losing priority with a 5.00 point ride and I should have stayed out the back and waited a few minutes more because I had to watch the 8.00 point ride of Hodei. I think that wave marked the difference in the heat because it was a wave with more potential and that was the difference.”

More at home in more powerful conditions, Neves has concentrated on his small wave surfing and is starting to see results. Equipment changes as well as technical adjustments to his surfing are the reasons for this improvement.

“This has been a contest in small waves which has always been difficult for me. Bigger waves are a lot easier for me. So now I have a specific board for small waves that is going really well. Each time my results are getting better.”

Now moving on to further events to be held in the Canary Islands, Neves feels that his momentum is pushing him towards an even bigger result in the near future.

“I am having a good run at the moment with many quarter-final finishes and now a semi-final so let’s hope a final is coming up soon for me in the next events in the Canary Islands.”

Marc Lacomare (Capbreton, FRA) 20, also finishing equal third, continued with his consistent results achieved throughout the entire year in Europe including a win at the 5-Star Newquay event. Having no luck in finding any rhythm and surfing on his backhand in the tricky conditions, Lacomare had to admit that some errors on his part cost him the victory.

“He (Zubizarreta) has been surfing amazing since the start of the contest so it was a tough heat. Maybe I made a couple of mistakes in that heat but I am still happy with a semi-final result.”

Remaining a clear leader on the ASP European Men’s rankings and with two stops remaining on the circuit, Lacomare is looking strong to back up his 2009 ASP Europe Junior title.

“I am really happy with my year and hopefully I can take out the European title after the Canary events and if not I am just really happy with the results I have done this summer.”

Quiksilver Pro Portugal Final Result
Hodei Collazo (EUK) 16.67 Def. Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 16.47

Casey Grant: the General

Casey Grant was the star performer for Team South Africa as giant surf continued to pound the coast of Peru on Day 3 of the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games at Punta Hermosa yesterday.

Grant continued his march into the last 16 of the Qualifying stream as wild, overhead waves forced organisers to close down the contest venue at Senoritas and only run the men’s heats at Caballeros on the other side of the bay.

Selecting the best waves, Grant employed his full repertoire of powerful bottom turns, vertical off the top manoeuvres and even threw in the occasional aerial to post a heat total of 12.74, the third highest of the round. He relegated former Dream Tour campaigner Ben Bourgeois (USA) to the runner-up spot and banished Leandro Usuna (ARG) and former South American champion Gary Saavedra (PAN) to the Repecharge rounds.

Grant’s team mates Warwick Wright and Thursday’s standout Chad du Toit were not so fortunate and will restart their respective challenges for medals in Round 4 of the Repecharge stream when the contest resumes.

Both South Africans surfed well enough to record double-digit heat totals but placed third in their heats with Wright ending behind Mick Campbell (AUS) and Alejandro Moreda (PRC) while du Toit was outscored by Drew Courtney (AUS) and Matias Mulanovich (PER).

Men’s Repecharge Round 1, where Guillermo Satt (CHI) upstaged his opponents by scoring the highest total of the day, 16.27 out of 20, was the only other round completed so Team SA remains one of 16 nations with all their competitors still in the race for honours.

However, with team captain Greg Emslie having dropped into Round 2 of the Repecharges on Thursday, the South Africans now have a real battle on their hands for team honours at the event. Defending team champions USA, Australia and hosts Peru all have three men among the last 16 in the Qualifying stream while Brazil has two in the division that contributes the highest scores towards the team total.

Competitors in the Repecharges have to compete in nearly twice as many heats as those who remain in the Qualifying rounds and have the constant threat of being eliminated from the event if they finish anywhere but first or second in each heat.

Surfline, the official surf forecasters for the event, predict that the surf will drop to more manageable proportions for Saturday. The organisers hope to run men’s Repecharge Rounds 2 and 3 at Senoritas, where SA’s Greg Emslie will be in action. Caballeros will host be the venue for longboard Qualifying Round 2, where Matthew Moir and Brad Weare will represent SA, starting at 3pm SA time.

Kelly Slater: the number 10 is in your sleep

The sixth instalment of the ASP’s sole roving event license, the Rip Curl Pro Search, is gearing up for an historic couple of weeks as the world’s best surfers converge on the island paradise of Puerto Rico.

Stop No. 9 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Search Portugal will enjoy a waiting period from October 30 through November 10, 2010, and potentially bear witness to one of the greatest sporting feats in history.

Kelly Slater (USA), 38, former nine-time ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 1, is firmly in the driver’s seat in the race for the 2010 title heading into the Caribbean, with only young South African and current ASP World No. 2, Jordy Smith (ZAF), 22, remaining in the hunt.

“The pundits are correct (it’s absolutely mine to lose at this point),” Slater said. “I'm in as good a position as I could hope for coming out of Portugal with Jordy (Smith) finishing well there. I'm pretty comfortable, but I know Jordy has been consistent all year and could win another event. I just have to do my thing on the other side of the draw, and I'm still looking to win events if I'm in them. I'm excited for Puerto Rico. It used to be a second home. We'll see how familiar it feels.”

For Slater to clinch his historic 10th ASP Crown at the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico, the following scenarios must occur:

-If Slater finishes Equal 3rd or better, he clinches the 2010 ASP World Title.
-If Slater finishes Equal 5th or Equal 9th, Smith must win the event to send the ASP World Title Race to Hawaii.
-If Slater finishes Equal 13th or Equal 25th, Smith must finish Equal 3rd or better to send the ASP World Title Race to Hawaii.
-Essentially, if Smith fails to finish higher than Equal 5th, Slater claims the 2010 ASP World Title.

With his familiarity with the venue and enthusiasm the Rip Curl Pro Search event, the iconic Floridian is looking as dangerous as ever.

“I actually pitched the idea to Quiksilver six or eight years ago hoping they would do it to start the year,” Slater said. “I think it's a great idea and we should have more variety and worldwide mobile events.”