Rio Surf International (June 27-July 5)
Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)
2001 World Championship Tour (WCT)
CJ Hobgood Takes Ratings' Lead; Garcia Eliminated
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Tuesday, July 3rd) World #7 CJ Hobgood (USA) todayjumped to the top of the current ratings by advancing into the semifinals ofthe Rio Surf International. World champion Sunny Garcia (Haw) wasn't sofortunate, being eliminated by WCT rookie Joel Parkinson (Aus) in theirquarterfinal.
Round four and quarterfinals of the 2001 event were completed at Arpoadortoday in peeling 3-foot (1m) lefthanders. The tournament is now set toclimax tomorrow morning with semifinals and then the grand finale.
Hobgood, 21, overtook his close friend Cory Lopez's (USA) lead on theratings by eliminating Taylor Knox (USA) this morning in round four, andthen Neco Padaratz (Brz) in their quarterfinal match. Since Lopez had placedequal ninth earlier today, a semifinal berth generated enough points for thetop spot.
Riding the same surfboard he had last August in Hossegor, France, to win hismaiden WCT title, Hobgood put on a fantastic performance today in similarlyshaped waves. After eliminating Padaratz in a close exchange, the Floridianexpressed his relief.
"I knew he was going to go blow for blow, big time," said Hobgood. "I justprayed God would send me a wave. If I had caught the same waves he wascatching I wouldn't have got his scores. So I kind of waited out there and agood wave came and ended up going all the way.
"I don't want to think about it too much," he said of leading the ratings."I just want to keep making heats and surf well. Whatever the ratings say…I can't really think about that, so I've just got to do what I can do."
Padaratz, 24, disposed of event giant killer Paulo Moura (Brz) in roundfour, but was unable to match Hobgood's wave selection the following heat.Still, having injured his ribs during the first WCT in Australia andconsequently being forced to miss the last event in Tahiti, an equal fifthis a great return to form.
"It's good, I feel happy," said Padaratz. "I think I had a chance at theend, but I lost priority and that was my mistake," he admitted. "I know whatI did wrong, so I'll try not to make it next time."
Garcia, 31, struggled today in the small lefts. Despite eliminating world#24 Fabio Gouveia (Brz) in round four, the Hawaiian found it hard to findopen-faced waves and admitted afterward he thought his opponent had won.Upon losing to Parkinson, though, he stormed up the beach so frustrated thatmoving up into fourth position on the ratings offered no consolation.
"I've got nothing to say," was all Garcia could say.
Parkinson, 20, reached his clash with the world champ after firsteliminating world #33 Pat O'Connell (USA) this morning. Although feeling illfrom a stomach bug he picked up yesterday, the Australian opened his accountstrongly against Garcia andshowed no signs of letting his handicap slow him down for the win.
"There weren't many out there," said Parkinson. "So I knew once I had thatfirst one it was a good advantage. Sunny got that one (further down thebeach) and I thought it might be enough 'cause there weren't many out there.It kind of was, but I'm glad he didn't get the score."
"I'm feeling good, but a bit cold," he continued. "I definitely feel betterwinning that, I just don't have a lot of energy. I'll get a good night'ssleep and I'll be right. I can't wait for tomorrow."
1999 world champion Mark Occhilupo (Aus) also progressed into the semifinalsafter overcoming Brazilians Armando Daltro and then Peterson Rosa in thequarters. The 35-year-old posted one of the highest totals of the dayagainst Rosa to now meet Hobgood tomorrow.
"I'm feeling really good," said Occhilupo. "That was a tough heat. I had agood start, but then let him back in it. I was freaking, really. I had a badfeeling 'cause I knew I'd let him back in it. But then I just had a coupleof really nice waves sent to me, so I was pretty lucky.
"I've got him in the semi now," he continued, referring to Hobgood. "So thatwill be the big heat. I've got a really good board at the moment, so I'lljust have a good night's sleep and look forward to it."
Rosa, 26, might have lost to Occhilupo today, but he was still the clearcrowd favorite. After each ride the beach erupted in applause, and oncecompetition had finished, local media couldn't get enough of him.
"I feel alright," said Rosa of the loss. "He had the opportunity by findingthe good waves. I'm stoked with this good result and good luck for him.
"I'm in Brazil and the people love me," he continued, surrounded bysupporters. "All the time I come to Arpoador, or Prainha, I have good timewith the locals."
WCT rookies Trent Munro and fellow Australian Nathan Hedge were the otherstandouts today. The pair ultimately met in the quarterfinals, whereuponMunro ended his friend's run to advance into the first semifinal withParkinson.
Munro, 22, posted the day's best score of 9.25 and highest tally of 23. 85against world #6 Taj Burrow (Aus) in devastating form this morning. FacingHedge, he again waited patiently and picked off the better rides for aconvincing victory.
"I felt pretty comfortable," said Munro. "Toward the end there I didn't havea decent third wave, but I knew I had an 8.0 and 6.5, so I just told myselfto be patient.
"I'm stoked," he added. "One more heat hopefully and I'll be there.
Hedge, 22, who eliminated Russell Winter (GB) in round four, has now movedinto 13th position on the ratings.
"Trent had an 8.0 at the start, so he was stoked," explained Hedge. "Hecould pretty much sit and wait. I had to play catch up. I'm stoked, though.To come to Brazil in the third event and finish fifth, I'm happy."
Lopez, 24, slipped to second after losing to Rosa in round four. Still, hewas pleased it was his friend taking over the charge.
"I felt fine, I just wasn't patient enough," reasoned Lopez afterward. "I'mpretty bummed, but whatever… I'm stoked for CJ as he gets to take my(rating) position. We'll see how long he holds it (laughs)."
Official Heats of the Rio Surf International
QF1: Trent Munro (Aus) 16.75 def. Nathan Hedge (Aus) 10.9
QF2: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 20.4 def. Sunny Garcia (Haw) 18.4
QF3: CJ Hobgood (USA) 20.9 def. Neco Padaratz (Brz) 19.9
QF4: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 22.65 def. Peterson Rosa (Brz) 18.75
H1: Trent Munro (Aus) 23.85 def. Taj Burrow (Aus) 22.00
H2: Nathan Hedge (Aus) 17.9 def. Russell Winter (GB) 12.9
H3: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 21.1 def. Pat O'Connell (USA) 20.75
H4: Sunny Garcia (Haw) 16.1 def. Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 15.35
H5: CJ Hobgood (USA) 21.8 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 20.65
H6: Neco Padaratz (Brz) 22.15 def. Paulo Moura (Brz) 16.35
H7: Peterson Rosa (Brz) 19.85 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 19.25
H8: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 19.00 def. Armando Daltro (Brz) 15.75
Upcoming Semifinal Matches
SF1: Trent Munro (Aus) vs. Joel Parkinson (Aus)
SF2: CJ Hobgood (USA) vs. Mark Occhilupo (Aus)