South African surfing pro, Jordy Smith, has won the Billabong Rio Pro in a hard-fought final over local favourite Adriano de Souza (BRA), in clean one to 1.5 metre waves at Barra Da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Smith used his superior variety of technical airs and powerful turns to defeat de Souza, posting the highest scoring ride of the final for a massive front-side aerial that earned 9.30 points out of a possible 10. His second scoring wave included an impressive stale fish air-reverse that was awarded 8.50 points.
De Souza had the huge local crowd on his side, taking an early lead and fighting hard throughout the 35 minute final but ultimately finished runner-up with a 16.34 total to Smith’s 17.80 points.
Smith’s third WCT career victory, and his first outside South Africa, earned the lanky Durbanite US$100,000 (approx. R900 000) and 10,000 invaluable world title ratings points that saw him jump five places to number two on the ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) rankings.
“This win feels unbelievable,” Smith said. “It’s another dream come true. I knew I could win a World Tour event, but I had to prove to myself that I could do it away from South Africa. Thanks to the crowd and Adriano (de Souza). He’s been ripping the whole event. Thanks to all of my friends and family for all of the amazing support.”
Smith’s surfing on the final day was nothing short of amazing as he defeated dangerous rookie Filipe Toledo (BRA), 18, in their quarter-final encounter and then two-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS), 31, in the semis. Smith attributed today’s success to his ability to adapt his strategy to both his competitors and the ever-changing conditions of Barra Da Tijuca.
“I knew it was going to be tough,” Smith said. “I was really nervous in the first heat against Filipe (Toledo). Luckily I got through that one and when I came up against Mick I waited for better waves. When the swell dropped against Adriano and he took to the sky, I knew I was going to have to do the same, and luckily I got a couple of scores.”
Billabong Rio Pro – Mens Finals Highlights:
De Souza, the 2011 Billabong Rio Pro winner, went on a rampage to advance to his second career final in Rio, eliminating 11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 41, in the quarters and goofy-footer Gabriel Medina (BRA), 19, in the semis, but was unable to top Smith’s devastating form in the Final.
“I did my best out there and thanks to the crowd for being behind me 100 percent,” De Souza said. “Congrats to Jordy (Smith). He beat me in the final from start to finish. I’m so happy to be here representing Brazil. Jordy was the best out there today and congrats to him.”
De Souza’s win in the last event at Bells Beach combined with his runner-up effort today vaults the hard-working Brazilian to the No.1 position in the rankings, boosting his chances to be the first-ever Brazilian ASP World Champion.
Gabriel Medina (BRA), 19, was incredible on the final day of competition, earning a perfect 10-point score for a lengthy barrel-to-air combination in his quarter-final victory over Adrian Buchan (AUS). The high-flying Brazilian was equally dangerous against de Souza with an excellent 17.50 out of 20 heat total, but fell just short of the final despite a valiant last-second effort, finishing equal 3rd.
“It’s so hard to get that close to the final and lose, but it was a good event for me,” Medina said. “My ankle injury has finally healed so that’s good progress for my season and congratulations to Adriano on the heat win. Hopefully I can do better in Fiji.”
Mick Fanning (AUS), 31, matched his Billabong Rio Pro result from 2012 with a semi-final finish. Fanning looked deadly in his quarter-final victory over rookie Sebastian Zietz (HAW), 24, but was unable to find a rhythm against Jordy Smith in the semis and had to settle for 3rd place overall, dropping one place to No. 3 on the ASP WCT rankings
“It would have been good to go one better, but the semis is good,” Fanning said. “This whole week was so tricky and it was one where you had your heart in your mouth whole time. I think I went out there and over-thought it. I got way too excited watching Jordy, Filipe, Adriano and Medina and tried airs and embarrassed myself. The waves I had at the start didn’t really allow turns so I thought I’d go for airs and find waves that allowed turns at the end and it didn’t work out. Congrats to Jordy. He’s been surfing great this whole event.”
Kelly Slater (USA), 41, 11-time ASP World Champion and the 2013 rankings leader coming into the event, was near-flawless in yesterday’s action but was out of rhythm in the opening quarter-final of the morning against De Souza, finishing 5th in the Billabong Pro Rio and slipping to No. 4 in the rankings.
“I thought there were a lot more waves than there ended up being and didn’t make the adjustment during the heat,” Slater said. “Adriano (de Souza) did and that made all the difference. Quarter- finals is not the worst result – it’s better than I went last year. It was a long wait this window and if I had waited that whole time and lost yesterday, I would have been bummed. I’ll take a 5th and look ahead to Fiji.”
The next stop on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) will be the Volcom Fiji Pro from June 2 – 14, 2013.
For additional ASP information log on to www.aspworldtour.com
BILLABONG RIO PRO FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.80
2 – Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.34
BILLABONG RIO PRO SEMIFINALS RESULTS:
SF 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.64 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.50
SF 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.83 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 8.26
BILLABONG RIO PRO QUARTERFINALS RESULTS:
QF 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.33 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 12.30
QF 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.43 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.93
QF 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.50 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.37
QF 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.76 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.07
ASP WCT TOP 5 SURFERS (Following Billabong Rio Pro);
1. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 18,500 pts
2. Jordy Smith (Durban, ZAF) 18,250 pts
3. Mick Fanning (AUS) 18,200 pts
4. Kelly Slater (USA) 16,950 pts
5. Taj Burrow (AUS) 15,700 pts
19. Travis Logie (Durban, ZAF) 6,250 pts