ASP World Surfing Tour Stop 4 - The Billabong Rio Pro Preview
The last two events of the Australian leg of the tour sort of whimpered out. Aside from a couple of standout performances, and the odd flourish of incredible surfing, the lack of epic swell on either Margaret River Main Break or at Bells Beach meant things were a little average. So it's with a little excitement that we now head to beach breaks of Brazil.
As we enter the fourth event of the year a Brazilian sits top of the pile. Gabriel Medina one of the so called new schoolers has a lot on his shoulders. Not only is he number one, but it's his home event, and he has a queue of experienced surfers waiting to knock him off his perch. World Champ Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater, Taj Burrow and Joel Parkinson are all just waiting in the wings to move to number one.
If Medina is to mount a serious title campaign he has got to pull something on home ground, he is good here as well and will be one to watch. Being a bit of a shifty beach break, it's a very open contest, anyone could take this, but it's a a good chance for one of the young guns to win here.
John John Florence has done, Jordy Smith loves it here and the likes of Koloe Andino and Julian Wilson go well in the punchy conditions. But beach breaks are tactical events, getting the right wave can be just as important so watch out for all those so called old guard surfers.
Like the men, the beach break conditions throws this event wide open, shifty peaks means that getting the right wave can get you through heats. There are a lot of girls who need to start making a move up the field as well so they don't get bogged down at the wrong end. Alana Blanchard sitting bottom of the pile being one.
At the other end it's looking like it could end up being a season of who can stop world champ Carissa Moore, with back to back wins coming into this, and seemingly being able to ratchet up the performance level at will means she is the woman to beat this year.
This is the first event for us Europeans that pretty much falls in our time zone, so it means no coffee fuelled nights trying to watch a few heats. The event runs from the 7th to the 18th of May and judging by the forecast it will start on the 7th. You can as always tune in here for live commentary of every heat - www.apsworldtour.com