Billabong Azores Islands Pro: splendid scenario with great waves

Day one of the Billabong Azores Islands Pro presented by Nissan an Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 6-Star Prime Men’s event commenced with round one of competition running through to complete 15 heats which included a six hour halt to wait for the high tide to drop before running a late afternoon session of competition.

Small wave assaults were on display throughout the day with aerials being the major moves going down at the main event site of Praia de Monte Verde.

All surfers competing at the Billabong Azores Islands Pro presented by Nissan are out to gain crucial points for their 2010 ASP world ranking while Europeans are searching to improve their points tally on the ASP European Open Series title race.

Small 2ft (0.5m) waves greeted surfers and officials early this morning with light winds and clear skies offering the chance to commence proceedings which was jumped at in an attempt to make the most of the incoming tide. As the morning progressed conditions improved however eventually the huge tides running at the moment left no other choice than to lay off until late in the afternoon where conditions were once again available.

It was a day where the young guns got a chance to show off with their arsenal of small wave weapons in the tricky conditions. Standouts were Granger Larsen (HAW) 20, and Miguel Pupo (BRA) 19, with their displays of power surfing blended to perfection with modern innovative aerial manoeuvres.

Granger Larsen (Maui, HAW) got his Billabong Azores Islands Pro campaign off to hectic start when having missed his first up heat was placed on the alternate list and fortunately entered shortly after to completely dominate his 25-minute clash with some power house surfing. Scoring a 7.17 out of a possible 10 and then backing it up with a second score of 8.00 to leave his opponents in a combination situation with still over half the heat remaining. Larsen explains his early morning crisis and his subsequent heat result.

“I woke up pretty early but didn’t walk out the door until after 7 and I got here and saw my heat in the water and I freaked out but I got an alternate spot and got in another heat. It is super small out there but I managed to get a couple of scores under my belt and I’m stoked because my board is working really well.”

Fresh from an excellent result last week in the ASP PRIME US Open of Surfing Larsen is in form and looking to build on his results to boost him higher on the ASP world rankings.

“I made it to the quarters in the US Open so hopefully I can get the same or at least better so I am looking forward to doing good at this contest too because I am going then to Lacanau and Pantin so I want to get some results here in Europe for sure and then go home and get ready for the world junior events.”

Miguel Pupo (Sao Paolo, BRA) 19, is also backing up from a result last week at Huntington Beach and was not to be over shadowed by Larsen as the young Brazilian unleashed several huge aerials in the extremely tricky conditions. Pupo advanced along with current ASP World Junior title holder Maxime Huscenot (FRA) to oust Jorge Spanner (BRA) who broke his leg while competing here in last year’s event and Devan MacNicol (ZAF).

“The conditions are pretty difficult and I got a couple of lefts and made some airs and got some scores so I want to just keep going like that. I got a good result at Huntington right now a fifth place so just keep going.”

Pupo looked relaxed and obviously still on a roll after his recent achievements has gained a level of confidence that will hold him in good stead for the upcoming rounds at the Billabong Azores Islands Pro.

“I feel confident now after my results last week and now with this contest I have that confidence to help me here. I arrived last night and I got up early and caught some waves to feel a little what the waves are doing and to feel ready. I got some good scores for my rides and the airs I did out there today so I want to keep going like that. It’s the same for everyone out there in the water but some guys have more facilities to surf waves like this and I have that facility so I thank God for that.”

Andre Silva (BRA) survived a nail biter to finish first in his heat with Jack Perry (AUS) also advancing. In a last minute exchange that saw heat positions change Silva scored a 7.17 on his last ride to jump into first place to leap frog Rhys Bombaci (AUS) and Dane Gudauskas (USA) who were both eliminated from competition.

“I was really lucky,” explained Silva. “I took that last wave to make the heat because I started off very slowly and in the first 10 minutes I didn’t get any waves and the waves are not so powerful. It is good because I almost missed my heat as I woke up late but I made it and it was tough out there but for me it is a good start and I will keep training for the next day.”

Feeling at home in the conditions and looking for a decent result to start off his European campaign Silva will have to keep on his game if he wants to obtain a result for his world ranking.

“I surf in waves like this in north Brazil so it may be a good contest for me and make the best result this year because so far I have had a bad year so I am just going to check what happens.”

Ruben Gonzalez (PRT) stepped from the alternate list straight into heat nº1 alongside former 3-time ASP World champion Tom Curren (USA) who has been granted an event wildcard. Surfing with power and flow both men clearly deserved their pass into the next round where they will come head to head with the top seeds of the Billabong Azores Islands Pro 2010 event.

“I was first alternate on the list and I was lucky to get into a heat this morning and I was ready to go for it so in the first heat and I made it through in the last minutes. I surfed with Tom Curren who was surfing amazingly in these small waves and it was fun because some nice lefts were there.”

Gonzalez has visited the Azores on several occasions and knows that despite it being small at the moment Sao Miguel has the potential to deliver some world class waves.

“I have surfed here before many times and in other contests and the waves here can be really good and powerful when the swell comes in so the potential is here for some really good waves and with lefts and rights which are a lot more powerful than in Portugal for example so let’s wait and see what happens.”

First call tomorrow will be at 07:00 (local time) for both men and women with a possible start shortly after depending on conditions.

REMAINING BILLABONG AZORES ISLANDS PRO ROUND ONE MATCH-UPS
Heat 16: Kiron Jabour (BRA), Casey Brown (HAW), Jean Da Silva (BRA), Cheyne Willis (HAW)

UPCOMING BILLABONG AZORES ISLANDS PRO ROUND TWO MATCH-UPS
Heat 1: Chris Davidson (AUS), Romain Cloitre (FRA), Mickey Picon (FRA), Ruben Gonzalez (PRT)
Heat 2: Aritz Aranburu (EUK), Royden Bryson (ZAF), Tom Curren (USA), Mitch Coleborn (AUS)
Heat 3: Marco Polo (BRA), Dyyan Neve (AUS), Gustavo Fernandes (BRA), Ruda Carvalho (BRA)
Heat 4: Nate Yeomans (USA), Shaun Cansdell (AUS), Junior Faria (BRA), Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY)
Heat 5: Pat Gudauskas (USA), Hodei Collazo (EUK), Jayke Sharp (AUS), Omer Bar (ISR)
Heat 6: William Cardoso (BRA), Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA), David Weare (ZAF), Shaun Joubert (ZAF)
Heat 7: Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Gabriel Medina (BRA), Kai Barger (HAW), Granger Larsen (HAW)
Heat 8: Mick Campbell (AUS), Leonardo Neves (BRA), Alain Riou (PYF), Andre Silva (BRA)
Heat 9: Tanner Gadauskas (USA), Nathan Hedge (AUS), Pablo Paulino (BRA), Jack Perry (AUS)
Heat 10: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), John John Florence (HAW), Luke Egan (AUS), Eneko Acero (EUK)
Heat 11: Josh Kerr (AUS), Nic Muscroft (AUS), Ricky Basnett (ZAF), Marlon Lipke (DEU)
Heat 12: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Nat Young (USA), Jeronimo Vargas (BRA), Jihad Khodr (BRA)
Heat 13: Brett Simpson (USA), Yuri Sodre (BRA), Brandon Jackson (ZAF), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 14: Joan Duru (FRA), Nathaniel Curran (USA), Maxime Huscenot (FRA), Jay Quinn (NZL)
Heat 15: Heitor Alves (BRA), Austin Ware (USA), Joao Guedes (PRT), Billy Stairmand (NZL)
Heat 16: Neco Padaratz (BRA), Marco Giorgi (URY), Diego Rosa (BRA), Kieran Horn (USA)
Heat 17: Ben Dunn (AUS), Rudy Palmboom (ZAF), Pedro Henrique (BRA), Bernardo Miranda (BRA)
Heat 18: Alejo Muniz (BRA), Dylan Graves (PRI), Tiago Camarao (BRA), Kevin Sullivan (HAW)
Heat 19: Gabe Kling (USA), Stuart Kennedy (AUS), Oli Adams (GBR), Brent Dorrington (AUS)
Heat 20: Travis Logie (ZAF), Lincoln Taylor (AUS), Messias Felix (BRA), Gony Zubizarreta (ESP)
Heat 21: Jay Thompson (AUS), Glen Hall (IRL), Adam Robertson (AUS), Tomas Hermes (BRA)
Heat 22: Blake Thorton (AUS), Yadin Nicol (AUS), Marc Lacomare (FRA), Brian Toth (PRI)

BILLABONG AZORES ISLANDS PRO ROUND ONE RESULTS
Heat 1: Ruben Gonzalez (PRT) 10.00, Tom Curren (USA) 9.63, Hugo Savalli (REU) 9.33, Alexander El Naib (DEU) 0.69
Heat 2: Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 11.50, Ruda Carvalho (BRA) 9.76, Andre Teixeira (BRA) 7.43, Anthony Walsh (AUS) 6.46
Heat 3: Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 14.00, Omer Bar (ISR) 8.53, Killian Garland (USA) 6.80, Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) 2.00
Heat 4: David Weare (ZAF) 13.07, Kai Barger (HAW) 12.13, Richard Christie (NZL) 10.60, Joackim Petersen Guichard (NOR) 7.77
Heat 5: Granger Larsen (HAW) 15.17, Shaun Joubert (ZAF) 8.70, Luca Petersen Guichard (NOR) 8.63, Dede Suryana (IDN) 7.04
Heat 6: Andre Silva (BRA) 13.10, Jack Perry (AUS) 11.80, Rhys Bombaci (AUS) 11.17, Dane Gudauskas (USA) 7.33
Heat 7: Eneko Acero (EUK) 12.60, Ricky Basnett (ZAF) 11.73, Eduardo Fernandes (PRT) 9.43
Heat 8: Marlon Lipke (DEU) 12.27, Jihad Khodr (BRA) 11.06, Alan Stokes (GBR) 10.07, Robertson Goncalves (PRT) 5.87
Heat 9: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.26, Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 11.06, Jorge Spanner (BRA) 10.03, Devan MacNicol (ZAF) 5.30
Heat 10: Jay Quinn (NZL) 12.00, Billy Stairmand (NZL) 10.20, Masatoshi Ohno (JPN) 9.87, Paulo Moura (BRA) 7.14
Heat 11: Kieran Horn (USA) 11.50, Bernardo Miranda (BRA) 8.33, Jay Davies (AUS) 7.27, Brendon Gibbens (ZAF) 6.40
Heat 12: Tiago Camarao (BRA) 11.70, Oli Adams (GBR) 11.33, Brad Ettinger (USA) 9.70, Parrish Byrne (AUS) 8.40
Heat 13: Brent Dorrington (AUS) 12.40, Kevin Sullivan (HAW) 9.43, Gregory Weatherall (NZL) 4.03
Heat 14: Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 14.63, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 13.17, Madison Williams (AUS) 9.40, Manuel Selman (CHL) 6.96
Heat 15: Brian Toth (PRI) 10.66, Cory Ziems (AUS) 9.23, Heath Joske (AUS) 8.70, Romain Laulhe (FRA) 7.24