Pictured: Taj Burrow (AUS), 31, current ASP World No. 2, will look to improve his 2009 bid for the ASP World Title with a big result at the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro. Credit: © ASP/ CI/ TOSTEE via GETTY IMAGES
IMBITUBA, Santa Catarina (Friday, June 26, 2009) - The world's most elite surfers are one day away from commencing the waiting period for the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro and throngs of South American fanatics are descending upon the tiny Brazilian town of Imbituba for a glimpse at some of the best surfing on the planet.
Stop No. 4 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro, which has been moved from second-to-last to fourth on the ASP World Tour schedule, will utilize the traditional competition format, allowing the world's best surfers a minimum of two opportunities to surf before elimination.
Taj Burrow (AUS), 31, current ASP World No. 2, is having a sterling year on the ASP World Tour with an equal 3rd from the Gold Coast and a runner-up finish from Tahiti (as well as an uncharacteristic 17th from Bells) tallied into his score line. Ever consistent in the punchy beach breaks of Brazil, Burrow is one of the event favorites heading at the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro.
"I'm really happy with my season so far," Burrow said. "I was upset with a 17th at Bells, but really stoked to make the Final at Teahupoo - that's a really hard place to get a result. I'm now so excited to take on what are probably my stronger events on tour - Brazil, Jeffreys, Trestles and then Europe."
Citing the rescheduling of the event as well as the reversion to the traditional competition format, Burrow foresees additional flare and value at this season's event.
"I think the change in the time of year is fine," Burrow said. "I'm curious to see if the waves will be any different. I think I prefer the traditional format better as it's good to get a second shot after traveling halfway around the world. You need to adjust to certain countries, the climate, your boards and the waves. One shot is kind of brutal so I'll be excited to compete in the traditional format here in Brazil."
Burrow will face replacement surfer and current ASP World No. 13 Jay Thompson (AUS), 26, and wildcard Gustavo Ferreira (BRA) in Round 1 of the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro.
Adriano de Souza (BRA), 22, current ASP World No. 5, is another contender for the 2009 ASP World Title. Holding a runner-up finish from the Gold Coast and a 5th from Tahiti (as well as a 17th from Bells) in his pocket, the former ASP World Junior Champion will look to climb even higher on the ASP Dream Tour ratings during his fourth season amongst the elite.
"This has been my best year so far," De Souza said. "I'm currently in the Top 5, and I feel like I have a good chance for a result in Brazil. I'm feeling fresh this year and a lot of things are going my way. I'm really looking forward to the event here."
As the highest-rated Brazilian on the ASP World Tour, the hopes of a nation rest upon the young natural-footer's shoulders. Although having a less-than-ideal history at the event, De Souza's consistent and ever-impressive improvement amongst the world's best gives the local contingent confidence in a potential Brazilian victory.
"It does feel different competing in my home country," De Souza said. "I kind of feel like every Brazilian will be counting on me, and although I think I have a good chance here, it's too early to tell. Joel (Parkinson) and Mick (Fanning) are surfing so well so they'll be difficult to stop. Also, I haven't ever done well here - I've never got past Round 3. However, I think I have a good opportunity to improve on that this year."
De Souza will take on 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), 23, and replacement surfer Neco Padaratz (BRA) when Round 1 of the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro commences.
This year's Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro will play a crucial role in the hunt for the 2009 ASP World Title with current ASP World No. 1 Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, and perennial threats Burrow, Mick Fanning (AUS), 28, C.J. Hobgood (USA), 29, and others all looking to consolidate on already-solid season openings.
Kelly Slater (USA), 37, reigning nine-time ASP World Champion, will look to rebound at the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro in Brazil after three consecutive equal 17th place finishes in 2009 - his worst run ever on the ASP World Tour. Slater will face fellow American Tim Reyes (USA), 27, and 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie Marlon Lipke (DEU), 25, in Round 1 of competition.
The Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro will begin its waiting period tomorrow, Saturday, June 27, 2009, and run through July 5, 2009.
All the event action will be webcast LIVE via www.aspworldtour.com
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Tim Boal (FRA), Greg Emslie (ZAF)
Heat 2: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Josh Kerr (AUS), Michael Picon (FRA)
Heat 3: Bobby Martinez (USA), Jihad Khodr (BRA), Phillip MacDonald (AUS)
Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA), Tim Reyes (USA), Marlon Lipke (DEU)
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS), Aritz Aranburu (EUK), Nathaniel Curran (USA)
Heat 6: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Dean Morrison (AUS), Ben Bourgeois (USA)
Heat 7: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), Neco Padaratz (BRA)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS), Guilherme Ferreira (BRA)
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS), Jay Thompson (AUS), Gustavo Fernandes (BRA)
Heat 10: C.J. Hobgood (USA), Dayyan Neve (AUS), Bernardo Miranda (BRA)
Heat 11: Tom Whitaker (AUS), Dane Reynolds (USA), Nic Muscroft (AUS)
Heat 12: Kieren Perrow (AUS), Drew Courtney (AUS), Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 13: Taylor Knox (USA), Heitor Alves (BRA), Roy Powers (HAW)
Heat 14: Damien Hobgood (USA), Chris Ward (USA), Ben Dunn (AUS)
Heat 15: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Chris Davidson (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 16: Mick Campbell (AUS), David Weare (ZAF), Dustin Barca (HAW)