With a slow fading swell pulsing into the shores of Rio di Janeiro, round 3 of the Billabong Rio Pro returned to the main venue of Barra Da Tijuca today. Head high lines wrapped onto a fast, suck-out lefthand sand bank. The Brazilian Mundaka, as the commentators claimed, half-seriously, did resemble the famed Spanish point, in terms of water color and zippery barrels. The big difference being that Mundaka is perfect, and this left was frustratingly closed out.
Upsets, Upsets, and more upsets. Of the top 6 rated surfers on tour, only 2 of them are still in the event after round 3. The biggest upset of the day being defending ten time world champion Kelly Slater getting edged out by Bobby Martinez in heat 6.
Bobby came out guns blazing, showing no signs of backing down to the king. The heat started in typical Slater fashion, with Kelly making a score out of nothing to take an early lead. The turning point in the heat came at the mid point where Kelly held priority and couldn’t quite catch one of the rare wedgey rights, handing it to Bobby, who made the most out of the mistake by landing a giant backside air for a 7.5. On his way back out, Martinez found a small left and racked up 3 big turns on the relatively short wave for a 6.83. After the 2 minute flurry by Bobby, Kelly needs a 7.51 to pull off the win. With 2 minutes left Kelly moves down the beach and finds a funky right wedge. He stalls into a small barrel, weaves his way through, stalls, weaves again, an incredibly long barrel for such an average looking wave. Two small turns to finish the wave, but the judges were not impressed. 7.27 and down goes Slater by .4.
World number 3 Jordy Smith lost a close heat to Josh Kerr in the very next heat. Both surfers struggled with mid-range scores through most of the heat until Kerr put the nail in the coffin with 3 minutes to go. Josh found a racy right down the beach and punted a massive frontside straight air, barely pulling the rough landing in the flats. Jordy knows he missed a golden opportunity to climb the ratings with Kelly out.
The final upset of the round saw Mick Fanning falling to Brazilian Raoni Monteiro in heat 12. Fanning seemed out of rhythm, failing to build an early lead which he typically does with ease. Monteiro had the highest score in the heat with a 8.67 for a well surfed left. Fanning was left chasing a big score as time expired.
The standout performer of the round was Tahitian Michel Bourez, who claimed the highest single wave score (up until that point) and highest heat total of the event against local favorite and defending event champion Jadson Andre. Bourez has a backhand under the lip hook that is probably the best in the world right now. Nobody puts the same amount of speed, power, and torque into his turns as the Spartan. Apparently the judges agreed, giving him a 9.7 and 9.4 for two very similar waves. Both were solid lefts where Bourez was able to get vertical under the lip. It seriously looks like an explosion when Bourez hits the lip.
With fun waves rolling in with the incoming tide, event organizers decided to push on through the 3-man non-elimination round 4.
Taj dominated heat 1 over Dan Ross and Damo Hobgood, securing an early 9 for a screaming left and never looked back.
In heat 2 Joel Parkinson pulled off an incredible heist, stealing victory from Jeremy Flores with just seconds left. Joel needed a 9 plus ride with under a minute to go in the heat, with a rampaging Flores in a very comfortable lead. Joel nabs a big left and tagged a series of floater and vertical hooks for a 9.73, the highest wave score of the event, and the win. Joel didn’t even know he won until GT approached him for the post heat interview.
Josh Kerr put on an airshow in heat 3 to overtake Adriano de Souza and Bede Durbidge. Kerr was having a blast in the non-elimination format, throwing full rotation air-reverses in the sideshore rights.
Owen Wright took care of heat 4, over Michel Bourez and Raoni Monteiro. Much like Taj’s performance, Owen got an early 9 and never looked back.
The winners of round 4 go straight to the quarterfinals, with the losers headed to man-on-man elimination in round 5, most likely running tomorrow at Barra da Tijuca.
Event site here.
Billabong Rio Pro Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 18.40, Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.60, Daniel Ross (AUS) 8.76
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.23, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.53, Bobby Martinez (USA) 10.73
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) 16.30, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.07, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 4.67
Heat 4: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.67, Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.20, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 9.26
Billabong Rio Pro Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.66 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 10.84
Heat 2: Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.33 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 4.03
Heat 3: Dan Ross (AUS) 12.17 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 7.97
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.50 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 6.77
Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.07 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 7.83
Heat 6: Bobby Martinez (USA) 14.50 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 14.10
Heat 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.87 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.17
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.93 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.87
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.17 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.50
Heat 10: Owen Wright (AUS) 11.66 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 9.80
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) 19.10 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 6.83
Heat 12: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 14.84 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.73