6 May, 2015 6 May, 2015

The Brazilian Storm Heads for Rio


Fitting isn’t it? The biggest push by the Brazilian Storm ever, and when they’re at their strongest they head off to Brazil. The fans will go wild, literally. They have reason to. Brazil has the reigning world champion in Gabriel Medina, the current Jeep ratings leader in Adriano De Souza, the Quiksilver Pro winner and aerial king Filipe Toledo, and the sprightly air-lady Silvana Lima. To say that they’re going into Rio strong is an understatement.

Having said that, the defending champion is a Tahitian, and the 2013 winner is from Umbilo. Who can forget Jordy Smith’s ‘Christ The Redeemer’ claims as he charged his way to victory in 2013 with massive airs all the way through the event, never faltering and looking unstoppable from the first heat all the way through to his final against Adriano. That he defeated a Brazilian in the face of a braying partisan crowd shows that Jordy has it in him to win against all odds.

Adriano de Souza leads the world rankings heading into the Oi Rio Pro.

That’s what he has right now. A bunch of odds. At the previous event on the calendar, the Margaret River Pro, Jordy injured himself in a free surf, slicing his foot deep enough to require stitches, and doing some more serious damage to his knee. In the midst of rehab, the question is, will he be ready on time? At this stage not even he knows. “To be honest I’m not sure at this point about the injury,” said Jordy in recovery mode after the Margarets event. “I’m trying everything.”

Still, being a previous winner, Jordy must have an affinity with the wave, as well as with the venue. “You know, either way I’m just really excited about what lies ahead,” said an upbeat Smith. “I love the wave, and I’ve enjoyed great success there before, so I’m just wanting to put on a great performance.”

Jordy, tucked-in at Barra da Tijuca.

The wave – Barra da Tijuca in Rio – is not the best wave on the Championship Tour. In fact it could probably be rated the worst wave on tour. It’s a beach break that does a whole lot of stuff that isn’t really ideal for high performance surfing. It fades, it closes out, it bends, and it gets affected by the wind pretty quickly. There are rips running through it, and it seems luck plays a very big part in the game here. Pick up a wave that doesn’t close-out and you have a good chance of making it through the heat. Pick up a second one and you’re winning.

Another surfer who seems to have a knack of putting on great performances at Barra, and anywhere else around the world in fact, is none other than Kelly Slater. In round 5 of last years’ event, Slater paddled out against Adriano de Souza in what looked on the webcast like very iffy conditions. The waves were big, they were closing out and smashing down on the sand, and the conditions looked really difficult. Kelly paddled into the first wave of the heat, and I think of the day. It was a big and thick left, and as he bottom turned the wave hit the sandbar and bottomed out. Slater had nowhere to go but into a below sea level backhand tube that looked certain to close out.

It didn’t. He sneaked out through a little hole at the end of the wave, and was immediately awarded a perfect 10 score. Check it out here:

He followed this up with a 5.5 and Adriano was left stranded. Testament as to how difficult the conditions were, Adriano ended up catching one wave, and scoring a 3.73. Adriano is a tenacious little guy, and he fights hard in every single heat till the very last minute, but in this particular heat he was so out of the game it was a joke.

Apart from the Brazilian Storm, Jordy and Kelly, there are any number of other Championship Tour surfers who could relish in the conditions at Barra. John John must be smarting after his loss in the final at Margarets to Adriano, and he could use his aerial technique to great affect in this punchy but tricky beachbreak. Julian Wilson is also on a confirmed mission this year, and his second at the Quiksilver Pro must have whetted his appetite for more.

Taj Burrow, The Man Who Never Grows Old.

One can never forget the diverse yet so similar Australian natural footed crew of Greasy and Lemmy (Parko and Fanning) and The Man Who Never Grows Old in Taj Burrow. The fact that he and his girlfriend Rebecca Jobson are expecting a child in about 5 months time might serve as a spur-on for the lad, as he is going to be in the market for bulk nappy purchases soon. A semi-final finish at Snapper and a semi-final finish at Margarets keeps Taj firmly in the race. Currently sitting at 6th on the rankings, he is holding steady amongst a pack of similar-placed surfers.

Then we have the new title sponsor for the event. Previously sponsored by Billabong, the event has been taken over by Oi. The Oi Rio Pro – it has a nice ring to it. Oi is the largest telecommunications company in Brazil and South America, and it seems a great fit. The fact that the WSL signed a multi-year broadcast partnership with Globosat in Brazil, bringing their events to 50 million Brazilian viewers, probably had a lot to do with it.

The Oi Rio Pro runs from May 11 – 22. Go to worldsurfleague.com for more info.

HEAT 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs Jadsen Andre (BRA) vs Dusty Payne (HAW)
HEAT 2: Kelly Slater (USA) vs Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs Brett Simpson (USA)
HEAT 3: John John Florence (HAW) vs Ace Buchan (AUS) vs Ricardo Christie (NZL)
HEAT 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs Wiggoly Dantas (BRA) vs CJ Hobgood (USA)
HEAT 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs Fred Patacchia Jr. (HAW) vs TBD
HEAT 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs I. Ferreira (BRA) vs TBD
HEAT 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs Keanu Asing (HAW)
HEAT 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs Glenn Hall (IRE)
HEAT 9: Nat Young (USA) vs Kolohe Andino (USA) vs Adam Melling (AUS)
HEAT 10: F. Toledo (BRA) vs M. Pupo (BRA) vs Matt Banting (AUS)
HEAT 11: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs Michel Bourez (AUS) vs Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
HEAT 12: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs Owen Wright (AUS) vs Kai Otton (AUS)

HEAT 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) vs Alessa Quizon(HAW)
HEAT 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs Joanne Defay (FRA) vs Laura Enever (AUS)
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs Dimity Stoyle (AUS) vs Luana Coutinho (BRA)
HEAT 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs Coco Ho (HAW) vs Keely Andrew (AUS)
HEAT 5: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs Silvana Lima (BRA) vs Sage Erickson (USA)
HEAT 6: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) vs Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)

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