Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Title Hopes on the Line in the Rio Surf

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Title Hopes on the Line in the Rio Surf

Article excerpt

Byline: SURF SCENE Andy McKinnon

IT'S battle stations at Brazil as the ASP World Tour swings into Rio de Janeiro and the solid beach breaks of Barra da Tijuca for the Billabong Pro men's and women's competitions.

Close-out beach-break conditions, much like the Northern Beaches on the Gold Coast at the moment, forced organisers to call a lay day and wait for the two-metre-plus swell to settle.

It has been quite a while since the ASP World Tour has set up shop at Rio, which is renowned for the Brazilian wax and bikinis, beach soccer and jiu-jitsu exercises like the martial arts capoeira. The locals are fiercely patriotic and love their sport with a passion, turning out in huge numbers to watch, sing, dance and party with the pro surfers.

It has been 20 years since Kelly Slater last competed in Rio beach-breaks and owed his first world title to the local guy Peterson Rosa, nicknamed athe Animala, who won the local derby, allowing Slater the points to claim his first world title in 1992.

The WCT events for the men have previously been held down the coast at Imbituba, where latest Brazilian talent, Jadson Andre, beat Slater last year. Slater won the year before, beating another Brazilian contender, Adriano De Souza.

The Brazilians are a huge success story in pro surfing, backed up by a seemingly fluid and buoyant surf economy and, like Australia, there are millions of surfers.

The only difference is that Australia has more surf breaks.

When former Australian coach Eddie Valladares took the Level 3 coaching program to Brazil he unintentionally opened up the floodgates of talent. Now there are five Brazilians on the men's ASP World Tour, all capable of winning.

De Souza has been the child prodigy and was touted as a future world champion until Alejo Muniz, who was born in Argentina, set the tongues wagging.

The deadliest contender in the Barra beach-breaks is Heitor Alves, who won back to back WQS events on his home breaks to qualify for this year's Dream Tour.

Raoni Monterio is a comeback man marking his second run on the tour.

Interestingly, De Souza scored a huge win over Kelly in the quarters at Bells. …

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