BARRA DA TIJUCA, Rio de Janeiro/Brazil (Monday, May 14, 2012) ? After a four-day break from competition, the Billabong Rio Pro launched back to action at the primary venue of Barra da Tijuca as world?s best surfers did battle in challenging four-to-six foot (1.5 – 2 metre) barrels at the primary venue.
Adam Melling (AUS), 27, led the day?s proceedings with superior barrel-riding skills. The powerful natural-footer charged into two deep tubes, earning the day?s highest single wave score of 9.67 out of 10 en route to the day?s highest heat total of 17.00 out of 20.
?I was pretty happy with that one,? Melling said. ?I snuck out of that first one that was a bit of a close out and on my way back out that other one doubled up real well and ran off. I was stoked to get that one on the way back out. It was sucking out off of the bank pretty well. It feels really good to get good waves in a heat. They?re definitely out there.?
John John Florence (HAW), 19, led the rookie class with unmatched versatility this morning, driving through barrels and punting critical airs in the pounding conditions to take a dominant Round 2 victory over replacement surfer Willian Cardoso (BRA), 26, with a strong 16.20 out of 20 heat total.
?It was a really hard heat and I was so tired,? Florence said. ?We?ve been sitting around these last couple of days. There really haven?t been any waves and then we were straight into these conditions. I try to take the heats as a free surf. It seems like I surf the best when I?m having fun, but obviously you?ve got the jersey on and you know you need to finish your waves off.?
Florence, current No. 10 on the ASP WCT ratings, was relieved to avoid an equal 25th place finish after a tough Round 1 loss and knew his Round 2 draw against Brazilian powerhouse, Cardoso, would be no easy task.
?I had a really bad heat at Arpoador the other day and I was kind of nervous going into this one,? Florence said. ?I just wanted to make it through. Willian (Cardoso) is such a good surfer and I?m just happy to make it out of that round.?
Florence will now face fellow rookie Miguel Pupo (BRA), 20, in Round 3 of competition.
Peterson Crisanto (BRA), 19, Billabong Rio Pro Wildcard, began the day by delivering a big upset, eliminating event favorite and fellow countryman Gabriel Medina (BRA), 18, in the opening heat of Round 2. Crisanto focused on the barreling rightnhanders while Medina struggled with the strong current and thumping waves.
?I knew that heat wasn?t going to be easy with Gabriel (Medina) so I just tried to stay on the rights and try and find the barrels,? Crisanto said. ?I almost made the first barrel, but I made the second one, so I?m happy to get through to the next round. I just tried to stay relaxed and find the right waves.?
Crisanto will take on Joel Parkinson (AUS), 31, in Round 3 of the Billabong Rio Pro.
Michel Bourez (PYF), 26, was extremely patient in his Round 2 matchup against Billabong Rio Pro Wildcard Tomas Hermes (BRA), 25, and his strategy paid off. The Tahitian drove through two righthand barrels, picking off his first ride in the opening minutes and waited until the dying seconds of the bout to post his second score.
“I was waiting for that one for so long,? Bourez said. ?I got my first wave at the beginning and got my second one at the last second. I love these conditions, it fits my surfing. I like to wait for the right ones and get the big barrels. Sometimes you have to go big and do big turns, but I expect to find the barrels today.?
Bourez would go on to eliminate an in-form Brett Simpson (USA), 27, in the final heat of the day, advancing through to Round 4 of competition.
Tiago Pires (PRT), 32, prevailed over the day?s stormy beachbreak conditions to take out two heat victories, topping Australians Kai Otton (AUS), 32, in Round 2 and Owen Wright (AUS), 22, in Round 3.
?Adam Melling must have been surfing another break out there,? Pires said. ?You get out there with the psych and I could not find the waves. There were lots of close outs and it was just really tough. I?m stoked to make it through though, it?s my first time advancing to Round 4 this year.?
C.J. Hobgood (USA), 32, navigated through the tough conditions brought on by building wind and dropping tide to post an 8-point score which proved to be enough to secure his win over ASP WCT Rookie Yadin Nicol (AUS), 26, in their Round 2 match-up.
?These conditions are a giant equalizer no matter who you have,? Hobgood said. ?You know you?re not going to get many chances. You could go from a dog fight trying to find 2s and 3s, that?s how slim it is and luckily a little later I got a chance on a left. It?s tough, there are not many out there. It looks easy from the beach and when you?re taking off you?re thinking, ?I hope I make the drop here.??
Hobgood will take on Patrick Gudauskas (USA), 26, in Round 3 when competition resumes.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow at 6:30am to assess conditions for a possible 7am start.