Coutinho, who earned his Nova Schin Festival berth courtesy of Mark Occhilupo's (AUS) last minute withdrawal, dispatched of three-time ASP World Champion Andy Irons (HAW) in their Round Three heat at Imbituba Beach today. He disposed of Andy's younger brother Bruce in a similarly fearless fashion the round prior.
"I know this beach and I know the wave because I've competed in lots of Brazilian contests here," the Brazilian National Runner-Up said. "But Andy (Irons) is such a good surfer and Bruce's maneuvers are of such a high caliber, I can't believe I beat them! This contest has been like a dream come true for me."
Despite missing Round One due to the last-minute nature of his Nova Schin Festival invite, Coutinho has been on fire since setting foot in Imbituba. The heavily backed Brazilian made and claimed an impressive aerial maneuver to secure his 15.17 to 10.83 win over Irons today.
"I made a reentry air at the end," Coutinho said. "The air was so hard because the wind took my board at the end. I had to grab it with my hand and slide my foot off the end but I made the air – it was difficult but I'm so happy."
Joel Parkinson capped off his 9.73, the highest scoring wave of the Nova Schin Festival so far, with similarly progressive flair.
"That was just the wave I was looking for," Parkinson said. "One with a little bit of wall and a little bit of lip and not too fast because you can't get too much speed out there. It stood up for about three sections and then it raced off and I got some speed and did a little air. It was kind of the wave I was looking for out there and I'm pretty happy I found it."
The elimination of the elder Irons has now opened the door for Parkinson, Taj Burrow (AUS) and Mick Fanning (AUS), each of whom are through to round four, to make ground on the Foster's ASP World Tour runner-up race.
Burrow's victory over Jihad Kohdr (BRA) which took place the heat after Irons' elimination, will see the Australian overtake the current world No. 2 in the ratings.
"I knew the Brazilians would be hard to beat," Burrow said. "I know both those guys (Coutinho and Khodr) surf really good. Jihad (Khodr) surfed really well in his round one heat - I watched that one. I wasn't going to take him lightly. I knew Andy (Irons) was going to have a pretty tough one too. It gives me a chance to move up the ratings possibly a little. I know it's really close between me and Andy (Irons) and Joel (Parkinson) and Mick (Fanning) so whatever happens, happens. It's really tricky conditions and a lot of luck going down."
Fanning got lucky with a last minute wave in his heat against Toby Martin (AUS).
"Toby started out strong - he had those two 6s and I was just playing catch up," Fanning said. "I couldn't find a wave the whole time and then that last one popped up. I did a first turn that was alright and then I thought I'd just surf the rest of it. As I went for my second turn, the wave disappeared on me and I just held on and went for it towards the end. Lucky for me I got the score - I was really surprised."
Nipping at Burrow, Parkinson and Fanning's heels is world No. 6 Bobby Martinez (USA). The American ended Marcelo Nunes run late in the day and will surf Round Four when competition reconvenes. With two 2006 event wins and momentum on his side, Martinez may well find himself in another final tomorrow or Wednesday.
Another call on competition status will be made tomorrow morning at 7:30.
Nova Schin Festival Round Three Results: (1st advances to Round Four, 2nd finishes equal 17th)
Heat 1: Damien Hobgood(USA)12.83 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 5.10
Heat 2: Cory Lopez (USA) 13.50 def. Jake Paterson (AUS) 9.87
Heat 3: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.34 def. Michael Lowe (AUS) 8.67
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.23 def. Mikael Picon (FRA) 13.50
Heat 5: Darren O'Rafferty (AUS) 13.16 def. Dean Morrison (AUS) 10.44
Heat 6: Peterson Rosa (BRA) 14.00 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 10.60
Heat 7: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 16.83 def. Adriano De Souza (BRA) 6.16
Heat 8: Odirlei Coutinho (BRA) 15.17 def. Andy Irons (HAW) 10.83
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.00 def. Jihad Khodr (BRA) 5.67
Heat 10: Greg Emslie (ZAF) 11.10 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 10.07
Heat 11: Tom Whitaker (AUS) def. Troy Brooks (AUS)
Heat 12: Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 14.16 def. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 11.50
Heat 13: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.27 def. Toby Martin (AUS) 12.50
Heat 14: Trent Munro (AUS) 14.50 def. Victor Ribas (BRA)12.26
Heat 15: Bobby Martinez (USA) 12.00 def. Marcelo Nunes (BRA) 10.40
Heat 16: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.36 def. Chris Ward (USA) 9.67