Billabong Rio Pro expected to kick off today

BARRA DA TAJUCA, Rio De Janeiro — The waiting period for the Billabong Rio Pro begins today and with a promising swell expected to ignite the beach breaks of Brazil, there is a good chance that the ASP Top 34 could kick things off straight away at the event’s primary site of Barra Da Tajuca, states a release from the Association of Surfing Professionals.

Stop No. 3 of 11 on the men’s ASP World Title Season, the Billabong Rio Pro returns to Rio De Janiero after landing at several iconic Brazilian destinations over the years.

Joel Parkinson, current No. 2 on the men’s ASP World Title Race, enters the Billabong Rio Pro with a newfound confidence after taking an amazing win at Bells Beach and hopes to maintain his form at Barra Da Tajuca.

“I think my form has always been there, but I was missing confidence,” Parkinson said. “Being back in the winner’s circle has brought that back and I feel like I’m surfing good again. Making the right decisions in heats is the key and it feels good to be back into it.”

Jadson Andre earned the biggest victory of his career by defeating 10-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater, to win the Billabong Pro in Santa Catarina last year and is hungry to post another impressive showing with the support of his nation behind him.

“My victory last year was the most memorable day of my life,” Andre said. “When I won last year it was only my third World Tour event and I won, but I’m going to surf heat by heat and try to progress. The aim is always to win and that’s what I’m trying for in the end.”

Slater, the current leader on the ASP World Title Race, won an elite ASP World Tour event in Rio de Janeiro back in 1997.

“I have a lot of good memories from competing in Rio,” Slater said. “The last year that I was here was the year Peterson Rosa won, and if he didn’t win I wouldn’t have won the World Title that year. I was here once or twice in the 90’s and I’ve had good times. One year we had good waves and good barrels and I have a lot of good friends here and it’s been a long time since I’ve been back.”

Adriano de Souza, who is heading into the Billabong Rio Pro after an equal third place finish at Bells Beach, is out to use the support of his passionate fans to tackle the world’s best surfers and hopes one of his fellow countrymen will keep the Billabong Pro Rio title in Brazil.

“I’m coming off of a good result and having the support of the crowd is definitely going to help me get on a roll,” De Souza said. “Hopefully the waves come my way and one of the five Brazilians will be the winner of this event.”

After a two-year hiatus, the world’s best female surfers will return to Brazil this week for Stop No. 5 of 7 on the 2011 ASP Women’s World Title season.

Carissa Moore, current ASP Women’s World No. 1, has been on an absolute rampage in 2011, making four finals from four events and claiming two victories. The young Hawai‘i surfer holds a solid position as frontrunner at the moment, and has consistently put in mind-blowing performances across Australia and New Zealand during the opening half of the year.

“I’ve have had an amazing year so far,” Moore said. “To make four finals from four events is a really good start for me and I’m having a lot of fun. Everyone is surfing really well and I’m feeling really pushed right now by all the girls like Coco (Ho), Tyler (Wright), Steph (Gilmore) and of course Sally (Fitzgibbons).”

Sally Fitzgibbons , current ASP Women’s World No. 2, has had a breakout year of her own, making two finals and collecting a well overdue inaugural victory at Bells Beach.

“I’ve had a pretty good run this season for sure,” Fitzgibbons said. “I’m still buzzing off that Bells win and I probably will be for a while. It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks for me — definitely the craziest of my life.”

Stephanie Gilmore, reigning four-time ASP Women’s World Champion and current ASP Women’s World No. 4, has shown flashes of brilliance this season, but has yet to make a final since 2010. For the first time in her career, the iconic natural-footer faces the possibility of losing the ASP crown.

“It’s definitely now or never in terms of making a run at it this year,” Gilmore said. “I’m sitting at fourth right now and haven’t cracked the finals yet. There’re three more events and if I’m going to make a move, it will have to start at this event.”

Silvana Lima, currently ranked No. 5, will lead the South American contingent, utilizing the passionate hometown crowd to her advantage.

“I’m very excited to be coming back to Brazil with the women’s tour,” Lima said. “Rio is a very special place and the fans are very passionate about surfing. It’s going to be exciting.”

The Billabong Rio Pro holds a waiting period from May 11 to 22 and is webcast live via http://www.billabongpro.com.

For additional ASP information log on to www.aspworldtour.com or www.aspnorthamerica.org.

BILLABONG RIO PRO ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:

Heat 1: Owen 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)

BILLABONG WOMEN’S RIO PRO ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:

Heat 1: Tyler Wright (AUS), Courtney Conlogue (BRA), Claire Bevilacqua (AUS)

Heat 2: Silvana Lima (BRA), Paige Hareb (NZL), Felicity Palmateer (AUS)

Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW), Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), Maya Gabeira (BRA)

Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Laura Enever (AUS), Andrea Lopes (BRA)

Heat 5: Stepahnie Gilmore (AUS), Pauline Ado (FRA), Suelen Naraisa (BRA)

Heat 6: Coco Ho (HAW), Sofia Mulanovich (PER), Alana Blanchard (HAW)

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