PRAIA DE SANTA BARBARA, Sao Miguel/Azores Islands (Friday, September 7, 2012) – Clean 3-4Ft waves with low offshore winds today offered many opportunities for competitors to display their best surfing repertoire and with two more rounds completed and the Quarterfinalists decided, plenty of action went down at Praia de Santa Barbara, Azores Islands. Surprises, last minute come-from-behind victories and major upsets made for an amazing fourth day at the SATA Airlines Azores Pro.
Nat Young (USA) 21, put on a clinic this morning in his Round of 24 heat where he scored an incredible 9.73 out of 10 for a combination of three excellent backside powerful turns on a running righthander. His backup score of 7.67 allowed him to clinch the second highest heat total of the event so far and qualify to the Round of 16.
"There's so many waves out there and I got three in the first five minutes and they were all pretty good waves, so it just put me in the good zone and then I had that 9," Young said. "It's really fun out there and there are a lot of waves I'm stoked! There were two good waves, Brian had that first one and I think he fell on it, and then mine was probably better because it was cleaner and after that last turn I knew it was going to be a good score so I was stoked!"
Sticking to his gameplan of using his backside to score high, Nat Young moved on to the next round and once again collected a 9.00 point ride to defeat Portuguese favourite Tiago Pires (PRT). Joining Hizunome Bettero in the first Quarterfinal when competition resumes. Young will be looking at his new favourite righthander to continue his way into the later rounds of the SATA Airlines Azores Pro.
"The longest waves are the rights and I feel very comfortable on my backhand so I'll just try to catch waves out there and give myself chances! I got my two waves under Tiago's priority, he didn't really look at them because they were smaller but they had a good wall in them, and I'm stoked I got those because there weren't many after that. I heard the waves are supposed to get bigger so I'm looking forward to it and I'm excited!"
Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 26 was the first surfer to qualify for the Quarterfinals today, defeating Eric Geiselman (USA), one of the top performers of the morning, in a very slow heat that saw the Californian catch only one wave. For the fourth time this season, Bettero manages to move into the quarters and is assured to put another great result under his belt to improve on his 43rd position on the rankings.
"I'm really happy to have made those heats," Bettero said. "What happened today has never happened to me before in my life, but sometimes you got to deal with this kind of situations you know. I dropped in on the wave, did my first turn, went for the bottom turn and the second turn and the photographer was right in front of me and I hit him in the back and broke my fin. I was really lucky that Marc Lacomare was watching and he came down the beach to lend me his board, and it works really well, maybe better than mine!"
Fresh off a ninth place in the Basque Country last week, Bettero has had a great year so far and hopes his recent excellent results can help him find financial backup of a sponsor to continue his rampage towards qualification onto the ASP World Championship Tour.
"I had two third places in Australia and in Virginia, and a 9th in Saquarema," Bettero started. "I hope I can drop a couple bad other results I have, because right now without sponsors it's hard to go to all contests. I hope to do well again and that someone will take notice of me !"
Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 24, found the right opportunities to display his powerful backhand hacks and managed to place first in a very close fought Round of 24 exchange against fellow Californian Cory Arrambide and Krystian Kymerson (BRA). The youngest of three Gudauskas brothers, Tanner currently sitting in 46th position on the ASP World Rankings will ameliorate his current situation droping a low result to replace it with a higher finish in the Azores.
"It's super fun there, it seems like the weather improved a little bit today and it kind of came down in size but it's still very clean so there are a couple of really nice rides!" Gudauskas commented. "A lot of guys have been flairing up on those rights all-day. There have been on heats, off heats, on heats etc.. but the on heats have been incredible with a lot of 9s. You really have to just keep rolling the dice, you never really know what's going to happen, and what kind of waves are going to come, but it worked out for me!"
Gudauskas later confirmed his dominant form today with another strong performance to defeat Willian Cardoso (BRA) in their Round of 16 bout. The powerful Brazilian who's been rampaging through the earlier rounds of the SATA Airlines Azores Pro faced the same situation as Eric Geiselman and only surfed one wave during the 25 minutes, he will go home with a 9th. After two fifth place results in his last two events, Gudauskas will be looking to finally crack the semi-finals when the event recommences.
"I had an interesting year with a lot of ups and downs, and I'm just starting to find my rhythm. I'm just stoked, sometimes when you can go home with a 5th, move into the next event and stay happy, then you know if you keep putting yourself there then maybe the thirds are coming and then the final so I'm just trying my hardest and that's it. I entered late here and I'm stoked I made the journey over, the surf's been good!"
Wigolly Dantas (BRA) 22, will join the crowd into the Quarterfinals of the SATA Airlines Azores Pro when competition resumes. The young Brazilian who's been consistantly showing up at the business end of the European events these past few weeks, is assured of another great result here and will be looking for a strong finish he's still missing this season.
"I'm having fun in these waves," Dantas stated. "I'm focused, and I want to go out there, surf and have fun! In my first heat the tide changed a little bit and it was hard because I had a really good wave and I struggled trying to find a backup so I got a little stressed. I've had a couple good results this year in Brazil, and I'm hoping to continue here and make a few more heats."
The beneficiary of another slow afternoon heat, Dantas managed to open his wave account with an excellent ride rewarded 9.00 out of 10 and left Hawaiian Granger Larsen wandering the beach of Praia de Santa Barbara looking for waves to back up his first score. Dantas kept busy down the beach and progressively raised the bar for his opponent to take back the lead.
"I got selective there and had a hard time finding a second good wave, but I'm still having fun and surfing good. It's pretty hard to sit in the right spot out there. I've been sitting in the same spot all contest and I thought I was going to get something for sure. I've been training a lot with Yannick and Patrick Beven in France, and I came here feeling solid. Now I'm going to go save some energy for tomorrow, and hope to keep it going. After this event, I'll be in France to enter the trials of the Quik Pro and later Lanzarote and Hawaii."
Hodei Collazo (EUK) and Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) will be the last European ambassadors in the event, and surf against each other in QuarterFinal No. 4 when competition resumes, assuring us one surfer from the Old Continent will move into the Semis.
With a decreasing swell today and signs of a new push throughout the afternoon tomorrow, event officials have decided to reconvene at 12pm on Saturday to possibly move forward with the QuarterFinals of the event.
The ASP 6-Star SATA Airlines Azores Pro is scheduled from September 4-9, 2012 in Sao Miguel, Azores Islands. For all results, photos, video highlights, press releases log on to zarautz.aspeurope.com.
For additional ASP information log on to www.aspeurope.com
The SATA Airlines Azores Pro is organized by DAAZ Eventos and USBA (União de Surfistas e Bodyboarders dos Açores) with the support of the following event partners: SATA Airlines, do Turismo dos Açores, Câmara Municipal da Ribeira Grande, Sumol, Moche, and the participation of Hotel Vip Executive Açores, FUEL TV as official TV Channel, RFM, RTP, Jornal i, Surf Total, Surf Portugal and ONFIRE.
UPCOMING SATA AIRLINES AZORES PRO QUARTER-FINAL MATCHUPS:
Heat 1: Hizunome Bettero (BRA) vs Nat Young (USA)
Heat 2: Messias Felix (BRA) vs Tanner Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 3: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs Thiago Camarao (BRA)
Heat 4: Hodei Collazo (EUK) vs Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY)
SATA AIRLINES AZORES PRO ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 13.44 def. Eric Geiselman (USA) 3.50
Heat 2: Nat Young (USA) 15.17 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.06
Heat 3: Messias Felix (BRA) 16.36 def. Cory Arrambide (USA) 13.86
Heat 4: Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 14.40 def. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 4.83
Heat 5: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 13.33 def. Granger Larsen (HAW) 8.63
Heat 6: Thiago Camarao (BRA) 9.83 def. Dion Atkinson (AUS) 8.03
Heat 7: Hodei Collazo (EUK) 12.77 def. Marc Lacomare (FRA) 12.67
Heat 8: Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 14.94 def. Charles Martin (GLP) 6.50
SATA AIRLINES AZORES PRO ROUND OF 24 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 15.66, Tiago Pires (PRT) 15.00, Tim Macdonald (AUS) 12.03
Heat 2: Nat Young (USA) 17.40, Eric Geiselman (USA) 14.50, Brian Toth (PRI) 12.00
Heat 3: Messias Felix (BRA) 12.84, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 12.73, Sebastien Zietz (HAW) 12.46
Heat 4: Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 15.90, Cory Arrambide (USA) 14.36, Krystian Kymerson (BRA) 14.07
Heat 5: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 14.27, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 12.76, Simao Romao (BRA) 11.06
Heat 6: Thiago Camarao (BRA) 15.00, Granger Larsen (HAW) 12.93, Vincent Duvignac (FRA) 12.33
Heat 7: Marc Lacomare (FRA) 14.84, Charles Martin (GLP) 12.87, Ty Watson (AUS) 8.24
Heat 8: Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 14.56, Hodei Collazo (EUK) 11.06, Cristobal De Col (PER) 4.57
SATA AIRLINES AZORES PRO ROUND OF 48 RESULTS:
Heat 9: Thiago Camarao (BRA) 12.53, Simao Romao (BRA) 11.26, Stu Kennedy (AUS) 8.30, Jean Da Silva (BRA) 7.97
Heat 10: Ty Watson (AUS) 11.73, Cristobal De Col (PER) 11.23, Nathan Yeomans (USA) 10.22, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 7.84
Heat 11: Charles Martin (GLP) 11.47, Hodei Collazo (EUK) 9.83, Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 9.10, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 5.25
Heat 12: Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 12.54, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 11.00, Marlon Lipke (DEU) 10.20, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 7.93