Last year in Brazil it was Kelly Slater matching up against Brazil's favorite son, Adriano de Souza, in the finals. Meager surf, cold weather, no bikinis on the beach, no major surf company backing, and a shitty webcast all equated to a majority of the surf world seriously questioning why Brazil remains a World Tour event.
This year though Billabong picked up the sponsorship, the ASP moved up the date, bikinis could be found, and there was actually fun looking surf throughout the contest.
"I've actually had a really fun trip, and I've been getting real fun surf, too," semi-finalist Dane Reynolds stated to webcast interviewer GT as the finalists ran down to the beach to get in the Atlantic Ocean.
Kelly vs. Brazil again this year in the finals. Except this year a younger, more exciting surfer replaced Adriano as Kelly's opponent—Jadson Andre, who is coincidentally Adriano's travel partner. And of course Kelly did not win this year, though he did overtake the World Title Race ratings lead with his runner-up finish. The 37-year-old can still hang with the younger generation, having been the only person over 25 in the semis and beyond.
Brazil was still inconsistent throughout the Billabong Pro, and the survivors of inconsistency were in the final. But when waves did come through they presented high scoring, high-flying lines.
But there was a restart during the final. It showed the inconsistency of Brazil, like Adriano's surfing, because the more consistent Jadson Andre took over the title of Brazil's greatest hope today I believe. As Dane noted, "I don't think I've ever seen Jadson fall on an air reverse."
"I've been waiting for this day for a long time. This is the best day of my life," Jadson stated with a Skol in hand as he stood in front of thousands of his countrymen cheering his name.
Jadson is a flash of energy. Within the first five minutes of his semi-finals heat against Dane he had Dane comboed with a 7.17 and an 8.70. Air reverses are his game, as we've known. He probably landed over 100+ in his heats at the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina. But he also displayed a stylish carve on the longer lefts that Praia Da Vila offered from time to time.
Jadson's first World Tour victory, and against the world's greatest competitive surfer of all-time avenged Brazil's loss last year to the 9-time World Champ. The youngest surfer on Tour versus the oldest. A rookie had not won an event since Bobby Martinez did in 2006.
"I've been waiting for this day for a long time. This is the best day of my life," Jadson stated with a Skol in hand as he stood in front of thousands of his countrymen cheering his name. It is a national holiday in Brazil tonight because Brazil has a new great hope for a World Title one day.
And with the waves offering high-flying action, nice weather on tap, and a Brazilian trumping Kelly this year, Brazil and the ASP have proven us wrong in saying that Brazil should not be on Tour.—Ryan Brower
For more information, log onto aspworldtour.com.
BILLABONG SANTA CATARINA PRO FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.40
2 – Kelly Slater (USA) 14.00
BILLABONG SANTA CATARINA PRO SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Jadson Andre (BRA) 17.70 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.67
SF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.50 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 10.56
BILLABONG SANTA CATARINA PRO QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Jadson Andre (BRA) 15.50 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.27
QF 2: Dane Reynolds (USA) 14.27 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.17
QF 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.34 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 12.43
QF 4: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.43 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.87
BILLABONG SANTA CATARINA PRO REMAINING ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 5: Taylor Knox (USA) 15.93 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.83
Heat 6: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.60 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 8.90
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.27 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 12.00
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.00 def. Roy Powers (HAW) 8.50
CURRENT ASP WORLD TOUR TOP 5 (After Brazil):
1 – Kelly Slater (USA) 21750 pts
2 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18500 pts
3 – Taj Burrow (AUS) 18250 pts
4 – Mick Fanning (AUS) 15500 pts
4 – Jadson Andre (BRA) 15500 pts
HEAD TO PAGE 2 FOR THE REST OF THE PHOTOS.
OFFICIAL ASP PRESS RELEASE:
PRAIA DA VILA, Santa Catarina/Brazil (Thursday, April 29, 2010) – Jadson Andre (BRA), 20, 2010 ASP World Tour rookie, has defeated former nine-time ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 1 Kelly Slater (USA), 38, to claim the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina.
The third stop on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina culminated in dramatic fashion today with the rookie claiming his inaugural victory in front of a capacity crowd at Praia da Vila.
"What do I say?" Andre said. "This is my dream. This is everything I have worked for in my life. To be on the beach and hear that I was the winner, something special came over me. I don't know how to put into words. It's a miracle. I have had some bad things happen in my life, but this is amazing. I am so thankful to everyone for this."
The young Brazilian was a standout in every round of competition, blending full-rail carves with effortless air reverses, and dominated the challenging Final conditions to best Slater. The win vaults Andre from 13th to 4th on the elite ASP World Tour rankings and puts him in excellent position heading into the close of the first half of the season.
"It's very important in terms of my ranking," Andre said. "Not only to help make the Top 32 cut-off, but also to help my seeding at J-Bay and Teahupoo. I know Kelly (Slater) can get a score whenever he wants so I tried my best to get scores early and keep the pressure on."
Andre becomes the first rookie to win an ASP World Tour event since Bobby Martinez (USA), 27, in 2006, and the first South American since compatriot Adriano de Souza (BRA), 23, last year in Spain.
"Adriano (de Souza) has been my hero for a long time," Andre said. "All the pressure has been on him these past years and I have learned from him. He is an inspiration and has helped me so much this year. It feels amazing to represent my home country and win here for Brazil."
While Slater never quite found his high-scoring form in Brazil, the Floridian adapted to the conditions each and every round, exhibiting his dominant nature throughout the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina. The Runner-Up Finish sees Slater ascend to the top of the ASP World Tour rankings – a dangerous place considering the upcoming events.
"It definitely puts me in a good spot this season heading into Jeffreys (Bay) and Tahiti," Slater said. "I think it's been almost two years since I've led the rankings and yeah, it feels good. Obviously, you want to win every heat, but that said, I didn't lose to a Mick (Fanning) or a Joel (Parkinson) or a Jordy (Smith) who are probably bigger threats in terms of the title. Jadson (Andre) winning here today is special and it's probably something that he'll remember for the rest of his life."
The current ASP World No. 1 showed little, if any, weaknesses throughout the event, only falling to Andre's hyper-kinetic forehand in the Final.
"In these conditions it was always going to be tough to beat him (Andre)," Slater said. "I would have had to gotten the set waves and had sections to pull some airs off. He was pretty unbeatable in these conditions and he took down everyone. We'll see if he can match the performances at places like Teahupoo and Pipeline."
Owen Wright (AUS), 20, 2010 ASP World Tour rookie, secured his career best result today, finishing Equal 3rd at the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina. The young goofy-footer soars from 23rd to 11th on the ASP World Tour rankings, putting himself in excellent position to make the Top 32 cut-off at this season's midway point.
"I'm rapt with my result here in Brazil," Wright said. "The tide really filled in and it became challenging to find them out there. Kelly (Slater) can pretty much do anything and he was able to stay busy during that Semi. I'm stoked with 3rd and it definitely helps with the seeding heading into these next two events. I've never been to J-Bay before but I'm frothing to get there."
Dane Reynolds (USA), 24, lived up to his reputation at the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina, logging in one phenomenal performance after another that culminated in the day's highest single-wave score, a 9.77 out of a possible 10 for a monster 360 Method Air on his backhand in the Quarterfinals. Unfortunately, Reynolds was unable to halt an early blitz from Andre in the Semifinals.
"Jadson (Andre) really found a rhythm early and I wasn't able to get anything going until the end there," Reynolds said. "I felt like I was pushing through the waves a bit too much. It's okay though. Equal 3rd is a good result and it puts me in a comfortable position moving forward. I had a good time here in Brazil. I had some fun heats and I'm looking forward to the next one."
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 22, fell to eventual Runner-Up Slater in the Quarterfinals but remained a standout in Brazil. The powerful South African's Equal 5th place finish sees him move to the ASP World No. 2 spot, an excellent position to be in heading into the next stop in South Africa.
"Any time you get the chance to surf against Kelly (Slater) is a privilege," Smith said. "I stuck to my game plan of hunting the lefts, and he stuck to the rights which hadn't really been breaking all day. But he's Kelly and he can summon waves like that. I'm disappointed, but still happy with the way I surfed. It's another good result for me and I'm looking forward to getting good waves at J-Bay."
Highlights from the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina will be available via aspworldtour.com/santacatarina.
The next stop on the 2010 ASP World Tour will be the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay from July 15 – 25, 2010.
For more information, log onto aspworldtour.com.