With a shift in swell, contest organizers for the Billabong Pro Rio relocated the event today away from the left-hand point at Arpoador to the beachbreaks of Barra da Tijuca. Although the conditions were unquestionably sub-par for the Dream Tour, today saw the event's highest heat scores dropped and a number of the Tour's top seeds fall from the event.
In one of the most noteworthy heats of the day, Bobby Martinez dispatched Slater from the event by the narrowest of margins in their Round 3 match-up. Amid the 4-foot shifting conditions, Slater opted to paddle away from the primary peak and toward a right that failed to offer him the scores he needed to take the win back from Martinez.
"There were some lefts and Kelly went down to the rights and you're always worried that he sees something that you don't," Martinez told the ASP. "I just got lucky, things worked to my advantage. I got that one right under his priority and that's what he usually does. I thought I'd try and reverse the role."
Australia's Josh Kerr took a page from Slater's game-plan in his Round 3 match-up against South Africa's Jordy Smith and opted to focus his attention away from the longer lefts and focus more on the wedgey rights. Unlike Slater, this decision paid off for Kerr as he bested Smith, who is currently ranked third.
"I'm stoked. The whole game-plan was to go down there on those rights," Kerr said. "I saw Kelly down there and it looked like there were a couple of good ones. I saw Jordy get those lefts, but luckily I got that right and went for the punt."
In the most explosive heat of the day, Tahiti's Michel Bourez sliced his way through the muddled conditions to overtake Brazil's own Jadson Andre with the day's highest heat score with a pair of 9-point rides. To boot, he dropped his second 9 on a buckled board.
"That heat started before the horn because me and Jadson were paddling to get the inside ones," Bourez said to the ASP. "The first one came and I knew I needed to get a good score and needed to get a good start. That's what happened, I got a 9.70. Just after that I tried and air and broke by board and thought 'oh no, it's not going to happen.' I got another right and got that 9.40 and after that my board was done, I couldn't surf, so I just took a couple of close outs."
Other highlights of the day included Taj Burrow who trumped Cory Lopez in their Round 3 heat and then went on to win his Round 4 heat over Damien Hobgood and Daniel Ross. Burrow's win in Round 4 moved him directly to the quarterfinals.
With a sea of churning lineups, Rounds 3 and 4 today proved instrumental in shifting up this year's ratings as a healthy lot of the top seeds have been pushed out of the event. With the constantly changing conditions, Rio truly could be anyone's game. Stay tuned for all of the World Tour drama at Surfermag.com.
Billabong Rio Pro Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 18.40, Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.60, Daniel Ross (AUS) 8.76
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.23, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.53, Bobby Martinez (USA) 10.73
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) 16.30, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.07, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 4.67
Heat 4: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.67, Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.20, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 9.26
Billabong Rio Pro Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.66 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 10.84
Heat 2: Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.33 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 4.03
Heat 3: Dan Ross (AUS) 12.17 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 7.97
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.50 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 6.77
Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.07 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 7.83
Heat 6: Bobby Martinez (USA) 14.50 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 14.10
Heat 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.87 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.17
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.93 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.87
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.17 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.50
Heat 10: Owen Wright (AUS) 11.66 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 9.80
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) 19.10 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 6.83
Heat 12: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 14.84 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.73