Quiksilver France 

Eight-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) has a shot at claiming his ninth ASP World Title sometime this week but he’ll have to win the Quiksilver Pro France to do so.

“I know I have to win the event to clinch the title and a second won’t be enough, that’s the math,” Slater said.

Slater won’t get started today however. Though the Quiksilver Pro waiting period has officially begun, conditions are looking better for tomorrow and competition was called off this morning.

Having already won five events of seven held this season, another first place performance in France does not seem out of the question for Slater. That said, Slater has only one French ASP World Tour win to his credit 14 years into his career.

“It is a great event but I got third place four years in a row which is pretty frustrating,” Slater, who earned an equal 17th result last year, said. “The first and only time I won here was in 1996, 12 years ago.”

Even if Slater does win the Quiksilver Pro, the three surfers sitting behind him on the ratings can spoil his chances to clinch in France. Specifically, if World No. 2 Taj Burrow (AUS) finishes 3rd or better or World No. 3 Bede Durbidge (AUS) or World No. 5 Mick Fanning (AUS) make the final, the race will continue until the following stop in Mundaka, Spain. World No. 4 Joel Parkinson (AUS) only stays in ASP World Title contention if Slater finishes second or lower in France.

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Adriano de Souza 

Adriano de Souza is currently rated sixth on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour and feels he is ready to make a push for the title.

At only 21 years of age, the Brazilian Standout has two and a half years of ASP Dream Tour experience under his belt, not to mention the fact that he won the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) series by a greater margin than any other ASP WQS Series winner in history back in 2005 and was also the youngest ASP Pro Junior Champion at the age of 16 in 2004. It’s safe to say that this Brazilian wunderkind is nothing short of prodigious and now de Souza feels that the next essential step in claiming the title of ASP World Champion is to move from his home in Guaruja Sao Paulo, Brazil to San Clemente, California.

“That is my plan,” De Souza said. “One day I want to be the World Champ and I have to move from my home to do it. I’ll be able to do more training in America and hopefully I can put it together next year.”

The high-flying Brazilian feels that the move to San Clemente will be a multifaceted improvement for his career aside from training for the title. De Souza feels that the move to the States will bring him closer to his sponsors and put him at the heart of the surf industry.

“Here in America I have everything,” De Souza said. “All of the support of the magazines and the industry. I can build a better relationship with my sponsors and I’m going to be surfing Trestles, so it will be good exposure for me.”

At this point, the only thing holding de Souza back is the paperwork. The ASP World Tour campaigner is working closely with his sponsors to get his papers in a timely fashion so he can start his new regiment towards his ASP World Title campaign as quickly as possible.

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Melanie Bartels 

Melanie Bartels (HAW), 26, has won the 2008 Billabong Girls Pro Rio, defeating fellow finalist Sofia Mulanovich (PER), 25, in rifling four foot (1.5 metre) barrels at Barra da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro today.

Event No. 4 of 8 on the 2008 ASP Women's World Tour, the Billabong Girls Pro Rio survived through a grueling five-day lay period to culminate in excellent conditions today, with the ASP Top 17 putting in some of the best performances in ASP history.

Bartels, who rockets up from 14th to 6th on the 2008 ASP Women's World Tour, collects her second career Dream Tour win (her first as a full-time member) with today's victory at the Billabong Girls Pro Rio.

“It's an amazing feeling and I'm just overwhelmed right now,” Bartels said. “My last win was in 2006 as a wildcard at Sunset so to be able to come out on top today, in these conditions, is really special. The waves started to deteriorate towards the end, but I was able to grab a couple of scores against Sofia (Mulanovich) and I was really just surfing my own heat out there and doing my own thing. I was having fun.”

The Hawaiian, who was unable to make the second event of the season, has rebounded in spectacular form today, defeating the reigning ASP Women's World Champion during the Semifinals in what some are calling the best heat in women's professional surfing history (19.00 def.18.50) before taking down Mulanovich in the Final.

“After that Semifinal with Steph (Gilmore) I was filled with a lot of confidence,” Bartels said. “The waves pumped for that heat and we were trading barrel after barrel. That's the most fun I've had in a heat in a long time. I had a tough start to the year with sponsors and results, but that just made me really hungry and after today, I'm really looking forward to the rest of the year.”

Mulanovich, who solidifies her position at No. 2 on the ASP Women's World Tour ratings with today's runner up finish, continues to collect consistent results in 2008 with her third Finals appearance of the season.

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