IMBITUBA, Brazil (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2006) –Several surfers accustomed to a comfortable amount of success on the Foster's ASP World Tour were elated to simply advance out of Round Two at the Nova Schin Festival today.
Former world champion CJ Hobgood (USA), 2005 world No. 6 Trent Munro (AUS), perennial Top 16 surfer Jake Paterson (AUS) and 2005 Rookie of the Year Fred Patacchia (HAW) were among the surfers under uncharacteristic pressure to perform in the tricky three foot (one metre) waves in Imbituba.
With only the Nova Schin Festival Brazil and the Pipeline Masters left to produce points, surfers sitting below the No. 27 on the Foster's ASP World Tour will have to requalify via the World Qualifying Series (WQS) or receive one of three ASP appointed wildcards if they hope to surf amongst the elite next year. Each of the aforementioned surfers needed to make their heats today to keep requalification hopes alive.
"It's definitely an uncomfortable spot to be in," Patacchia, rated 24th, said. "There are a few of us who are on the bubble, in the bubble and outside the bubble right now – guys like CJ Hobgood who just made his heat, Mick Lowe who's in the 17th round already, Trent (Munro) and Victor (Ribas). Everyone is trying to do well out here, trying to be consistent and trying to seal the deal rather than going into Hawaii being nervous and knowing that you're going to need a result."
Patacchia beat Pedro Henrique (BRA) who, like Yuri Sodre (BRA), Paulo Moura (BRA), David Weare (ZAF) Roy Powers (HAW) and Adrian Buchan (AUS) who also lost today, will be hard pressed to requalify via their Foster's ASP World Tour ratings.
CJ Hobgood is currently rated 22nd and was ecstatic to beat Buchan and post the day's highest single wave score (a 9.00 out of a possible 10.00 points) to advance to Round Three. The 2001 World Champion was emotional with relief.
"I don't think that heat could have been anymore of a nail-biter for me," Hobgood said. "I was behind and there weren't many good waves out there. This wave came in and it looked clean and I had priority so I just kind of gambled and took it. It looked like I was going to get a couple of good turns on it but then it just lined up the whole way; I didn't do anything crazy on it but I just rode it and it was a good wave for out there."
Hobgood finished in the Top 10 last year but has struggled to make it out of the early rounds in recent events.
"I haven't really made a heat since Mexico and I'm on the cusp of having to make heats to requalify – people don't realize that," Hobgood said. "People are probably like 'Whatever man, you won a heat,' but for me, it's been a long four months just getting back on track. I've never been in this situation and I'm just so stoked to make that heat; I would have been on suicide watch had I lost!"
Twenty-eighth rated Munro who beat Weare despite making a few tactical errors, was vocal that he's struggled to reinstate the stellar form that saw him at the top of the ratings all of last year.
"I'm in a position where I have to step up my form," Munro said. "I haven't reached any level of performance like I did last year or would have liked to have this year. Let's just hope I can build on a good performance here and step it up."
Paterson stepped it up to beat Powers in their Round Two duel and will now meet Picon in Round Three. Sitting in 30th, a result in Brazil is imperative for the tour veteran.
"I think I'm out of the [requalification] danger zone," Paterson joked. "I think I'm the guy who's trying to attack the guys who are in the danger zone and grab their spot. I had nothing to lose out there really. The waves are really trying and I was pretty lucky with my priority. I was kind of in sync and Roy was out of sync. I got a good start and he had to play catch up."
Toby Martin (AUS), Miky Picon (FRA) and Chris Ward (USA) also advanced today.
Brazil's big hope in rookie Adriano de Souza, received a Round Two bye when Jarrad Howse (AUS) was forced to withdrawal from the event due to a back injury incurred during a freesurf yesterday.
Rated 38th, Howse was in desperate need of a strong result in order to push himself into the Top 27 and secure a berth on the 2007 tour. Already en route back home to Australia it will be a race against the clock for Howse who needs to be fighting fit for the next World Qualifying Series (WQS) event which begins in Hawaii on November 12th.
A call on Round Three will be made tomorrow morning at 7am.
Nova Schin Festival Round Two Results: (1st advances to Round Three, 2nd finishes equal 33rd)
Heat 1: Andy Irons (HAW) 13.80 def. Neco Padaratz (BRA) 12.57
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.50 def. Pedro Norberto (BRA) 8.33
Heat 3: Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.87 def. Jean da Silva (BRA) 13.00
Heat 4: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 13.83 def. Renato Galvao (BRA) 13.67
Heat 5: Dean Morrison (AUS) 12.57 def. Bernardo Pigmeu (BRA) 10.66
Heat 6: Phillip MacDonald (AUS) def. Leonardo Neves (BRA) 9.33
Heat 7: Odirlei Coutinho (BRA) 13.33 def. Bruce Irons (HAW) 9.66
Heat 8: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.50 def. Yuri Sodre (BRA) 11.34
Heat 9: CJ Hobgood (USA) 14.50 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.00
Heat 10: Toby Martin (AUS) 13.07 def. Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 12.73
Heat 11: Trent Munro (AUS) 12.00 def. David Weare (ZAF) 11.00
Heat 12: Fred Patacchia (HAW) 13.60 def. Pedro Henrique (BRA) 9.43
Heat 13: Adriano de Souza (BRA) moves to Round Three; Jarrad Howse (AUS) Injury Withdrawal
Heat 14: Miky Picon (FRA) 15.67 def. Luke Stedman (AUS) 9.83
Heat 15: Jake Paterson (AUS) 13.67 def. Roy Powers (HAW) 12.00
Heat 16: Chris Ward (USA) 10.00 def. Paulo Moura (BRA) 6.40