It was a day of upsets as the young guns dominated the opening round of the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina, Brazil, as reigning champion Mick Fanning and current world number one Taj Burrow were relegated to the elimination stage.
But Portugal’s Tiago Pires caused the biggest upset of the day as he claimed the scalp of former nine-time ASP World Champion and defending event winner Slater in the pulsing one metre (two-to-three foot) rights at lefts at Imbituba’s Praia da Vila.
“Kelly makes everyone lift their game,” said Pires, 30. “You can’t make any mistakes against him. I tried to pick the best waves and surf my best. Fortunately for me, things went my way today.”
There was also strong showings from Jordy Smith, Matt Parkinson and Bede Durbridge. “The tour comes in waves,” said Parkinson, who last year pushed Fanning all the way to the title. “Someone will do well in the first few events, then someone switches on in the next few and so on. It’s a long year ahead and the focus is on the heat in front of me.”
Parkinson scored a a near-perfect 9.93 (out of a possible 10), with a giant forehand aerial for the highest single-wave score of the day. “I already had two solid scores and I was just loosening up,” he added.
“When I hit the section, I thought I was too high, but my board stuck to my feet and I thought, ‘well, I’ll try to land it’. Then I found a soft section and rode out of it. I’ve been working with a really good fin set-up and my boards have been feeling amazing.”
'Kelly makes everyone lift their game. You can’t make any mistakes against him'– Tiago Pires
Upsetting the trend of the day was 33-year-old Neco Padaratz beat Adriano de Souza and Jadson Andre in an all-Brazilian round one bout, proving that experience can triumph in the face of youth. “I have been coming to Praia da Vila since I was nine years old when I won my first contest here,” said Padaratz. “That’s 25 years of history for me in this place. I come here every winter to train for the heavy waves and I take it with me wherever I go. It’s a special place for me.”
Padaratz, who has enjoyed a recent renaissance in his surfing, was full of praise for his countrymen: “Adriano and Jadson are such good young surfers, they know they can get the scores on any wave and they were hunting for them out there. I’ve been working very hard on my surfing lately and I think it is starting to pay off.”
For more news, pictures and vido highlights, head to the Billabong Pro site, and the ASP World Tour site.
Round Two Match-ups
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Tanio Barreto (BRA)
Heat 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Ricardo dos Santos (BRA)
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Messias Felix (BRA)
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Blake Thornton (AUS)
Heat 5: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. Marco Polo (BRA)
Heat 6: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 7: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Nate Yeomans (USA)
Heat 8: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Jay Thompson (AUS)
Heat 9: Chris Davidson (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 10: Luke Stedman (AUS) vs. Luke Munro (AUS)
Heat 11: Andy Irons (HAW) vs. Ben Dunn (AUS)
Heat 12: Daniel Ross (AUS) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 13: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 14: Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Drew Courtney (AUS)
Heat 15: Roy Powers (HAW) vs. Mick Campbell (AUS)
Heat 16: Dean Morrison (AUS) vs. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)