BARRA DA TIJUCA, Rio De Janeiro/ Brazil (Thursday, May 12, 2011) - The ASP Top 17 kicked off the opening day of Billabong Rio Pro competition at the main event site of Barra Da Tijuca in clean two-to-three foot (1 metre) surf. Today's highlights saw the ASP Women's World Tour's top seeds donate top performances to complete Rounds 1 and 2 before competition was called off due to deteriorating conditions in the afternoon.
Stop No. 5 of 7 of the ASP Women's World Title Season, the Billabong Rio Pro plays a vital role in deciding the 2011 ASP Women's World Champion.
Tyler Wright (AUS), 17, who is currently sitting at No. 3 in her rookie year on the ASP Women's World Tour, built momentum throughout her Round 1 heat by jumping out to a quick start on smaller inside waves before belting an 8.77 (out of 10) with a flurry of forehand turns on a right-hander to earn the day's highest single-wave score. The win relegated American Courtney Conlogue (USA), 17, and fellow Australian Claire Bevilacqua (AUS), 28, to Round 2.
"When they came through there were some fun ones out there but it's pretty inconsistent," Wright said. "The main thing for me was to get started quick and get the ball rolling and I'm glad I did because nothing came in for the last 12 minutes."
Coco Ho (HAW), 20, got off to a slow start at the Billabong Rio Pro and was sent to Round 2 by in-form Peruvian Sofia Mulanovich, 27. The young Hawaiian was quick to recover however, and eventually earned the day's highest heat total of 14.94 out of 20 to eliminate wildcard Maya Gabiera (BRA), 24.
"I had kind of a tough start this morning and was out of rhythm so I was going in to my Round 2 heat kind of down," Ho said. "I got a slow start in Round 2 as well and was worried that my bad rhythm was continuing, but I eventually found my feet and finished my waves."
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 20, locked in to the best waves in her heat to open her Billabong Rio Pro campaign with an impressive 8.67 out of 10 and capped the heat off with at 5.17 to advance directly through to Round 3.
"The conditions have improved since this morning, it's just a matter of when they come through because there are massive lulls," Fitzgibbons said. "It was good to get one straight off and then there was a lot of hassling, so hopefully we have more waves for the next round."
Fitzgibbons, who is currently trailing behind Hawaiian Carissa Moore (HAW), 18, in the hunt for the 2011 ASP Women's World Title, knows that another top result at the Billabong Rio Pro will be crucial in her quest for the frontrunner position.
"This is an important event, we're over halfway through the season and I'm just looking to remain consistent," Fitzgibbons said. "I'll just put in my best efforts here and hopefully make my way to the final and have fun along the way.
Carissa Moore, who is currently leading the ASP Women's World Title Ratings, has claimed two event victories this year and is on the prowl for another result in Rio De Janeiro to retain her position atop the standings.
"This is an important event to get some points," Moore said. "It's our fourth event in a row and it's been a long time away from home. It's definitely a key event for everyone's rating going into the end of the year."
Silvana Lima (BRA), 26, shook off the nerves that often come along with the pressure to perform in front of the home crowd to take a commanding Round 1 victory by linking into several Barra Da Tijuca rights.
"I was nervous at first but I feel so much better right now," Lima said. "The waves are small and clean and everything's good because I'm in Brazil."
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 23, reigning four-time ASP Women's World Champion, has yet to make a Final throughout her 2011 campaign and is out to use the Billabong Rio Pro as a breakthrough event.
"It's new territory and I don't really like it," Gilmore said. "I haven't made a Final yet and I feel like I'm sort of learning how to surf heats again. I'm definitely learning a lot, It's so funny how you can feel so familiar with something for so long, but it has been a good challenge and it's now or never at this event."
Laura Enever (AUS), 19, who started her ASP Women's World Tour rookie campaign with an impressive 3rd place finish on the Gold Coast, had suffered three equal 13th place finishes over the last three events, but the fiery young Australian bounced back to life today with a Round 2 win over Claire Bevilacqua (AUS), 28.
"I've been pretty nervous lately, I've had three 13ths before coming here and I started with a 3rd at Snapper so my heart was definitely pounding at the end," Enever said. "Claire (Bevilacqua) had that 7.6 and could have easily gotten a 6 so I just tried to breathe. I'm glad I got that 8 at the start."
When men's competition begins, 2010 ASP Rookie of the year Owen Wright (AUS), 21, will take on Heitor Alves (BRA), 29, and Bobby Martinez (USA), 28, in Heat 1.
Billabong Rio Pro organizers will reconvene at 7am local time tomorrow for a possible 7:30am start.
The Billabong Rio Pro men's waiting period runs from May 11 through 22 while the women's window is from May 12 through 16. To watch the event LIVE log on to http://www.billabongpro.com
For additional ASP information log on to www.aspworldtour.com.
Billabong Rio Pro Women's Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.27, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 10.17, Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 4.70
Heat 2: Silvana Lima (BRA) 12.50, Paige Hareb (NZL) 11.50, Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 9.47
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 8.30, Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 5.00, Maya Gabriera (BRA) 3.56
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 13.84, Laura Enever (AUS) 11.07, Andrea Lopez (BRA) 9.23
Heat 5: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 12.16, Pauline Ado (FRA) 8.43, Suelen Naraisa (BRA) 7.17
Heat 6: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 12.83, Coco Ho (HAW) 10.87, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 9.30
Billabong Rio Pro Women's Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Laura Enever (AUS) 14.40 def. Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 12.60
Heat 2: Pauline Ado (FRA) 11.03 def. Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 8.00
Heat 3: Coco Ho (HAW) 14.94 def. Maya Gabeira (BRA) 4.17
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.44 def. Andrea Lopes (BRA) 8.17
Heat 5: Paige Hareb (NZL) 10.33 def. Suelen Naraisa (BRA) 5.96
Heat 6: Alana Blanchard (HAW) 13.10 def. Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 8.70
BILLABONG RIO PRO MEN'S ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: eaOwen Wright (AUS), Heitor Alves (BRA), Bobby Martinez (USA)
Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA), TBA
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS), Dusty Payne (HAW), TBA
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), TBA
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA), Julian Wilson (AUS), TBA
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA), Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat 9: Damien Hobgood (USA), Tiago Pires (PRT), Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 10: Michel Bourez (PYF), Chris Davidson (AUS), Cory Lopez (USA)
Heat 11: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Daniel Ross (AUS)
Heat 12: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Taylor Knox (USA)