Billabong Rio Pro hosts World's Best Surfers...

Billabong Rio Pro - Round 1

Rio de Janeiro, new hosts to the Billabong Pro has kicked off with a quiet start. Barra da Tijuca will serve as the main site for the Billabong Pro Rio 2011, utilizing its consistent and rippable beachbreaks as a base for the world’s best surfers to push the boundaries of high-performance. The historic lefthand pointbreak of Praia da Arpoador will serve as the secondary site, and the protected beachbreaks of Canto do Recreio will be called upon should the winds not cooperate with the two former.

After a week of lay-days, round one eventually commenced as the veterans dominated on the day with the highest scores,  while defending event winner Jadson Andre (BRA), 21, made an impressive entrance in the Billabong Rio Pro’s opening round.

Kelly Slater (USA), 39, reigning 10-time ASP World Champion, got off to a strong start to open his Billabong Rio Pro campaign. Slater flaunted two furious tail-drifting backhand turns to collect the day’s highest single-wave score of a 9.00 (out of a possible 10) midway through his bout to overtake ASP World Tour rookie Julian Wilson (AUS), 22, and event wildcard Peterson Crisanto (BRA), 18, after nearly missing the start of his heat.
“That 9 felt good,” Slater said. “I went down to grab my jersey and there was some confusion. By the time I got out, the heat had already started and Julian got that first one. It wasn’t a good start. I knew there were going to be some good ones and I just had to be patient. That one good wave actually let me bottom turn and hit the lip, most of the waves were soft and had a lot of horizontals.”

Taj Burrow (AUS), 32, opened his Billabong Rio Pro campaign with a sharp backhand attack by belting two Arpoador lefthanders to the tune of a 16.83 (out of 20) on his first two waves to earn the highest heat-total of the day. The Australian veteran notched his Round 1 heat win over dangerous Brazilian rookie Alejo Muniz (BRA), 21, and event wildcard Ricardo Santos (BRA), 20.

Jadson Andre, defending event winner, reveled in Arpoador’s lefthanders with a combination of aggressive carves and snaps to take a convincing Round 1 heat victory with the support of the Brazilian crowd behind him.
“Brazilian fans are so passionate and vocal,” Mick Fanning, reigning two-time ASP World Champion, said. “Sport is a huge part of their culture and that reflects in the crowds we get to the beach. I’m excited about bringing the World Tour back to Rio.”
“I’m so happy to be here competing in Brazil and I love Arpoador, I feel like a local,” Andre said. “I’ve competed here several times before and have friends here. I know everyone says I should feel pressure as defending champion, but I’m not worried about it. I’m just thinking about the next heat. That’s what I did last year.”

Billabong Rio Pro event organizers will reconvene at Aproador at 7am local time tomorrow morning for a possible 8am start.

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Billabong Rio Pro Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.60, Heitor Alves (BRA) 7.67, Bobby Martinez (USA) 7.47
Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.84, Adam Melling (AUS) 11.16, Kai Otton (AUS) 7.90
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.33, Ricardo Santos (BRA) 11.17, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 10.60
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.07, Simao Romao (BRA) 12.36, Dusty Payne (HAW) 11.66
Heat 5: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 8.13, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 8.07, Igor Morais (BRA) 6.34
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.17, Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.37, Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 3.84
Heat 7: Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.33, Gabe Kling (USA) 10.66, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 7.90
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.56, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 10.80, Josh Kerr (AUS) 7.43
Heat 9: Damien Hobgood (USA) 12.00, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 11.10, Tiago Pires (PRT) 10.93
Heat 10: Cory Lopez (USA) 11.54, Chris Davidson (AUS) 10.00, Michel Bourez (PYF) 8.57
Heat 11: Daniel Ross (AUS) 14.90, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.67, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 8.96
Heat 12: Taylor Knox (USA) 15.03, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.70, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8.34