Brazilians Taste Success At Joaquina

Thursday, November 4, 2004 (Joaquina, Florianopolis, Brazil) Brazilian wildcards today made their presence felt in the Nova Schin Festival 2004. Round one of the Foster’s men’s ASP World Championship Tournament (WCT) was completed, though no surfers have been eliminated from the US$260,000 event.

Another beautiful sunny day greeted Florianopolis, as tricky 3ft (1m) conditions changed throughout. Competitors opted to utilize a sandbank south of the main judges tower, where a massive beach crowd soaked up the action.

With all eyes on current ratings leader Andy Irons (HAW) to see if he can clinch his third consecutive world title here in Brazil during the Nova Schin Festival, local wildcard Rafael Becker was able to sneak under the radar of most — including his opponents — to pick off the better rides and post an 8.67 and 7.67 scores for a major upset. Irons and fellow rival Pat O’Connell (CA, USA) are now forced to contest dreaded ‘losers’ round heats tomorrow, while Becker secured a direct third round berth. The current Santa Catarina state champion surfed confidently on his backhand and credited knowledge of the Joaquina lineup for his advantage.

“I’m so happy and can’t contain myself, said an overwhelmed Becker. “Very stoked to beat the world champion. I think I made the right choice for waves, as I know this spot. I surf here everyday, so I think that was important for me to pass this round. I’m the champion of this state, and that’s how I got in the contest. I’m so happy I can’t even speak English right now (laughs).

Current ratings runner-up and sole world title contender Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast, AUS) was then beaten by Californian Tim Curran’s late 9-point ride. The Australian must win the Nova Schin Festival, and hope Irons places no higher than 5th for the race to climax at Pipeline, Hawaii, next month. Following his defeat, the 23-year-old will face Brazilian Pro Champion and wildcard Renato Galvao tomorrow in round two.

“I wasn’t sure what happened at the end, said Parkinson upon hearing the news of his defeat. “I saw Timmy’s last wave and it looked really good, and I hadn’t done much, so I probably didn’t deserve to win. He was surfing great.

“I’m a long shot, but at least I have a chance, he continued, of the world title. “Miracles can happen, and I’ve been dreaming about winning it, so I definitely won’t go down without a fight. Hopefully I can keep it alive until Hawaii and then we’ll see who goes better there. That’s my goal.

Six-time world champ and defending event winner Kelly Slater (FL, USA) controlled his match against Brazilian wildcard Ricardo Ortiz and Kalani Robb (HAW). The Floridian appeared at ease, racking up a number of high scores to advance.

“I had a fun time during that heat, said Slater. “I rode a really small board but got some good waves and it felt great. I guess I was just in sync. The wildcard did Andy and Pat up in their heat, so I just figured you had to find the good waves or have no chance.

“I played guitar with Donovan Frankenreiter at his concert the other night, which was fun, he added, of the recent competition lay-days. “I filled in on a song he did with Jack Johnson, and since he wasn’t around to sing, I got up there and did my best impression of Jack (laughs).

Wildcard replacement Tanio Barreto created another upset by defeating Australians Tom Whitaker and ratings #6 Nathan Hedge. In what proved a relatively low-scoring exchange, he edged out his opponents with a 7.0 in his tally. Having filled Danny Wills’ (AUS) spot in the Nova Schin Festival 2004, Barreto has already proved a worthy recipient.

Luke Egan (AUS) continued his great form of late to win a difficult heat over reigning ASP world junior champion Adriano de Souza and fellow Brazilian Raoni Monteiro. The Australian won the last WCT event in Spain two weeks ago, and despite a significant weight disadvantage in the small surf, powered his way to round three.

“It’s a little bit of a struggle out there today, but we had to get the event running as the forecast is looking pretty average, explained Egan. “I’m the contest director for the world junior championships, which Adriano won this year, so he might have thought he had some authority over me next year if I had of let him beat me (laughs). Those guys surf really well in small waves, but I’ve got some great surfboards and have been looking forward to this tournament.

West Australian Taj Burrow picked off a couple of good lefthanders and belted a series of crisp backhand turns for two eight plus scores and a round one win. He overcame Brazilian opponents Guilherme Herdy and wildcard Leonardo Neves. Herdy found the longest lefthander of the day and surfed it brilliantly for a near-perfect score of 9.57 — the day’s best — but despite another strong 7.33 ride, it was slightly lower than the required 7.4 score and remained in runner-up position.

“It’s hard when you’re competing against the best guys like Taj, began Herdy. “I tried my best and got the waves, but thought my second score might be a little more. I just have to look forward to my next heat and stay focused. It was a close heat, so I’m still stoked. Great to be home and see all your friends supporting you, it gives good energy.

Next call is 7am (local time) tomorrow for an expected round two start.

Nova Schin Festival WCT Brasil 2004 Round One (1st>Rnd3; 2nd>Rnd2)

H1: Peterson Rosa (BRA) 15.0; Troy Brooks (AUS) 12.94; Eric Rebiere (FRA) 9.93

H2: Michael Lowe (AUS) 13.0; Neco Padaratz (BRA) 9.77; Renan Rocha (BRA) 7.54

H3: Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) 12.83; Fabio Gouveia (BRA) 10.77; Jake Paterson (AUS) 8.23

H4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.97; Guilherme Herdy (BRA) 16.9; Leonardo Neves (BRA) 13.83

H5: Tanio Barreto (BRA) 12.93; Tom Whitaker (AUS) 12.47; Nathan Hedge (AUS) 11.06

H6: Luke Egan (AUS) 12.4; Adriano de Souza (BRA) 9.74; Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 9.7

H7: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 15.83; Victor Ribas (BRA) 14.67; Odirlei Coutinho (BRA) 11.96

H8: Rafael Becker (BRA) 16.34; Pat O’Connell (USA) 12.4; Andy Irons (HAW) 10.33

H9: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.33; Ricardo Ortiz (BRA) 12.97; Kalani Robb (HAW) 12.94

H10: Tim Curran (USA) 15.33; Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.5; Renato Galvao (BRA) 12.3

H11: Trent Munro (AUS) 14.66; Phil MacDonald (AUS) 10.5; Beau Emerton (AUS) 7.24

H12: Bruce Irons (HAW) 14.0; Taylor Knox (USA) 13.53; Luke Hitchings (AUS) 7.27

H13: Toby Martin (AUS) 14.4; Lee Winkler (AUS) 13.47; Michael Campbell (AUS) 12.97

H14: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 13.4; Cory Lopez (USA) 12.67; Armando Daltro (BRA) 5.23

H15: Richard Lovett (AUS) 14.2; Nathan Webster (AUS) 13.4; Greg Emslie (ZAF) 9.43

H16: Paulo Moura (BRA) 15.83; Marcelo Nunes (BRA) 11.82; Shane Beschen (USA) 9.53