Surprises hit the 2011 Billabong Rio Pro

May 20, 2011 | Surfing
Josh Kerr: daily routine

Kelly Slater, Jadson Andre and Jordy Smith are out of the 2011 Billabong Rio Pro. The Brazilian surfing event returned to the beachbreak of Barra Da Tijuca with punchy four foot waves.

The massive upsets in the early stage of the competition remove some colour to the sand of Rio de Janeiro, but the winners have deserved the glory. Bobby Martinez defeated reigning 10-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater in a close heat of 14.50 to 14.10.

"There were some lefts and Kelly (Slater) went down to the rights and you’re always worried that he sees something that you don’t," Martinez said. "I just got lucky, things worked to my advantage. I got that one right under his priority and that’s what he usually does. I thought I’d try and reverse the role."

Michel Bourez went absolutely mental in his Round 3 match-up to eliminate defending event winner Jadson Andre, by belting a combination of furious backhand maneuvers to earn the second-highest single-wave score of the entire competition, a 9.70, and quickly followed up with a 9.40.

"That heat started before the horn because me and Jadson (Andre) were paddling to get the inside ones," Bourez said.

"The first one came and I knew I needed to get a good score and needed to get a good start. That’s what happened, I got a 9.70. Just after that I tried and air and broke by board and thought ‘oh no, it’s not going to happen.’ I got another right and got that 9.40 and after that my board was done, I couldn’t surf, so I just took a couple of close outs."

Josh Kerr lofted a big frontside air on a wedging right-hander in the final minutes of his Round 3 heat to eliminate Jordy Smith, in Round 3.

"I’m stoked, the whole game-plan was to go down there on those rights," Kerr said. "I saw Kelly down there and it looked like there were a couple of good ones. I saw Jordy (Smith) get those lefts, but luckily I got that right and went for the punt."

Joel Parkinson continued his form after a standout performance in Round 2 and built momentum throughout the day to take his Round 3 heat and followed up with the highest single-wave score of the entire event, a 9.73 out of 10 to win his three-man Round 4 heat in the last seconds, advancing directly into the Quarterfinals.

"It’s kind of one of those things where you’re only as good as your last heat and once you have a shocker you don’t want to have another one,” Parkinson said. “It might have been a blessing in disguise (to lose in Round 1). I’m glad I got that one out of the way and my strategy is good and I feel good."

Taj Burrow was one top seed to prevail among the day’s upsets. The veteran campaigner not only took out his Round 3 victory, but also took a commanding win in Round 4 to ignite the day’s second-highest heat-total of 18.40 out of 20.

"That felt good, I felt good out there for sure," Burrow said. "As long as I can get a wave with an open face I feel like I can get the job done, but that’s the hard thing. Sometimes you just get on a roll and it has a lot to do with confidence. For me confidence is a big thing and it’s a tough one for me. When it’s high, I don’t know what it is, it just does it. I feel like I’ve been on tour long enough to win heats."

Adriano de Souza was also impressive in Round 3 today and continued to use the support of his passionate Brazilian fans to lift his performance.

"I’m happy to move to Round 4," De Souza said. "I can’t believe it, there is this massive crowd down on the beach and I wanted to go for it. I’m proud of myself for making that heat. C.J. (Hobgood) is a world champ and he’s surfing amazing and he does so well in these conditions. It was an amazing feeling to get through and I’ll see how I can do in this event."

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