The ASP World Surfing Tour Stop Four: The Billabong Rio Pro, Finals Day
Rio hasn't been known for its epic waves over the years but you can't fault it for its drama. Once again before we move off into the South Pacific and Fiji, for a real dream tour location, the shifty beach break delivered for both the men and women.
Round 5 entered the water with the only remaining Brazilian, Adriano De Souza, going up against Kelly Slater, it was going to be a titanic struggle between the two adversaries and locals were at the beach early. Early enough to see Slater after just seconds paddle into the wave of the event, stand tall in a pit backhand, and get spat out no hands, to receive a perfect 10. De Souza was left dazed and exited.
The second heat was as dramatic, Kolohe Andino was surfing erratically and was chasing a combined score of just 6.50 against Travis Logie. He then gave away a ridiculous interference, colliding with Logie who had priority, thus losing one wave score for the rest of the that. Logie though failed drive home his advantage and in the dying seconds Andino got barrelled, scored a 6.83 and progressed, was this the luck Andino has been looking for the last few seasons?
Into the quarters and the waves were forgettable but the surfing wasn't, Kelly Slater, Kolohe Andino, Michel Bourez and Taj Burrow all putting heats together to make the semi finals. The first of which saw Kelly and Andino go head to head, and while tight for once you always felt Andino just had the edge, and a little more to spare and he made it to his first WCT final.
In the other semi heat Michel Bourez was gathering momentum, having already knocked out Joel Parkinson, The Spartan was looking solid in the poor waves. Taj just didn't get into his usual rhythm and when Bourez dropped an 8.70 three quarters of the way through there was no way back.
So, Kolohe Andino vs. Michel Bourez, you'd have got long odds on this match up for a final at the beginning of the contest. In the end as is often the case it was a little bit of a let down, not the tooth and nail battle you would have hoped for. Bourez essentially had the final won in the first two waves, Andino toiled, but failed to come close in the deteriorating conditions.
A massive result for both surfers though, and for Bourez that's a second win of the year as we head into the proper waves of Fiji, J-Bay and Tahiti there are whispers that we could have a Tahitian world champ, be pretty epic if they turn into shouts.
It's all coming down to this, who can stop Carissa Moore? When she isn't winning contests she's dropping video sections that most guys would be proud of, and in a heat she is seemingly invincible, so could anyone put a dent in her title aspirations?
As she demolished Lakey Peterson in the semi final 17.97 to 6.00 it was looking pretty unlikely, especially as closest rival Stephanie Gilmore had gone down a couple of rounds earlier. The other semi saw two more of her main rivals though in Sally Fitzgibbons and Tyler Wright, Sally getting the upper hand.
Fitzgibbons is known as being pretty solid when the chips are down though and for the first time in Rio she took a heat to Moore. The first exchange went her way, a 9 point ride versus an 8, but critically she backed it up with a quick 7, which in these conditions can really rattle an opponent.
Moore was left scratching for a decent wave, which simply never came, whilst Sally was able to calmly sit and wait. The quick hit worked for Fitzgibbons and she took the final and put herself in the Championship race, but there is still a lot of catching up to do with Carissa.
So for the men and the women we move to Fiji, the poor surf of Brazil and Australia is way behind us and we enter the dream tour zone, the thundering lefts of Cloudbreak. Contest starts on June 1st, it's in totally the wrong time zone for us, but will be worth staying up for.