RIBEIRA GRANDE, Sao Miguel – Professional surfing history was made today when the first ever ASP sanctioned event got underway on the North Shore of Sao Miguel Island, the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Azores Islands Pro being treated to solid five to six foot (1.5 to 2 meter) waves. Twelve heats were held in the testing surf on offer, the expected north swell hitting the island with power and speed to allow the first twelve heats of Round 1 to run and deliver a promising show before event top seeds get their start tomorrow.
Raoni Monteiro (Saquarema, BRA), 27, a former ASP World Tour surfer, put the show upside down in the final minute of Heat 11, the second-to-last of the day, after posting a near perfect 9.77 point ride on a solid six-foot wave to jump back in the lead and end up winning his encounter ahead of Granger Larsen (HAW). Monteiro, who was stuck in second position for almost the whole heat, was able to get a long righthander and show the ASP judges he had the skills to impress his peers with fantastic surfing.
“I feel I was a bit lucky actually because the peak was shifty and that wave came to me,” Monteiro said. “I got that six-pointer early in the heat and I knew I needed a second ride to finish confidently but I was lost out there. I just sat out there hoping for a good one and it came so I am really happy.”
Monteiro, who has been out of the water for two months this year due to an ankle injury, used full power and speed to tame the solid waves breaking by the afternoon’s end and made his intentions clear for his Azores Pro campaign, setting the bar high with a 17.10 point heat score.
“It’s been a tough year for me so far with that injury keeping me away from the water for a couple of months,” Monteiro said. “I think I managed to surf the way I know and I thought I was getting the right feeling on that wave, being able to do what needs to be done to score big. It feels good to start off with such a high score.”
Monteiro showed he was at ease in the big waves of Ribeira Grande today and with the swell expected to increase throughout the night to reach the eight to nine foot range tomorrow morning, top seeds Glenn Hall (IRL) and Shaun Gossmann (AUS) will have to step up to counter the Brazilian’s assault.
Showing his abilities in consistent surf today was world famous big wave surfer Mark Matthews (New South Wales, AUS), 27, who came up with committed surfing to post the day’s best heat result of 15.50 points (out of a possible 20) including a last minute score of 8.17 points (out of a possible 10), the day’s best ride. Matthews, who did not do well at Lacanau last week, has had a couple of big results this year peaking with an equal 17th in the O’Neill CWC Scotland last May.
“I was actually very nervous to begin with and I fell off three consecutive waves and I was starting to get worried I wouldn’t make one,” Mathews said. “I paddled a bit further down the beach and the wave kind of did all the work, it walled up. For a WQS event, the waves are pumping, anything above two foot is great and it’s four to five today so it’s a dream.”
Mathews, who booked his flight to the Azores archipelago a week ago only, left the water with a smile knowing he had won his first ever heat in the premiere of the Azores Islands Pro. As for most of the competitors entered in the ASP WQS 6-Star contest, Mathews expressed his pleasure to discover a new surf destination.
“I am stoked to do something new and I had never heard of this place before that,” Mathews said. “That’s why I hadn’t even booked my flight thinking it was somewhere in Portugal on the continent! But I was stoked to find out, saw a few photos and the place is beautiful.”
Representing the European contingent with consistency and smart heat tactics was inform Reunion Island born surfer Christophe Allary (REU), 23, who posted one of the day’s best wave scores with an 8.00 point ride (out of a possible 10) to win Heat 6 ahead of rising surfer Chad du Toit (ZAF), the best performance of a European surfer today.
“It was hard to read the conditions because there are two sandbanks and I sat in the middle at the start of the heat,” Allary said. “I didn’t catch any good ride outside so I paddled back in and found the better waves inside. It was cleaner and I managed to getb that good wave and advance. It’s a good start.”
At 23 years of age, Allary is still learning his job as a professional surfer on the Grind and gaining experience amongst the world’s best qualifiers, and is looking for a good result. Allary, whose heat today was his first ever surf at Ribeira Grande as it was for most of the other competitors, left the contest site satisfied to start off well his campaign in a day that will go down in surfing history books.
“Coming here and being part of this 144-man contingent to surf in the first ASP event in Azores is pretty special,” Allary said. “It’s fun to come to a place where no one has ever been and it makes it even for everyone, the tactics being a big part of the performance. I was very motivated at Lacanau and it didn’t work well for me so I am hoping to better that performance.”
Allary will face top seeds Wiggoly Dantas (BRA), 19, when he paddles out back out with his competition rash vest on to try and get through another round and possibly better his 13.73 point heat score (out of a possible 20).
NDS PRO ROUND 1 RESULTS
Heat 1: Norman Landa (EUK) 12.83 pts, Jarrad Sullivan (AUS) 11.93 pts, Richard Christie (NZL) 10.43 pts, Thiago Camarao (BRA) 7.93 pts
Heat 2: Daniel Redman (AUS) 11.73 pts, Blake Jones (USA) 9.17 pts, Joaquim Guichard (DEN) 5.70 pts, Dylan Graves (PRI) 3.87 pts
Heat 3: Bernardo Miranda (BRA) 13.10 pts, Justin Mujica (PRT) 11.30 pts, Joao Guedes (PRT) 10.43 pts, Andrew Bennett (USA) 4.63 pts
Heat 4: Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 12.10 pts, Sunny Garcia (HAW) 11.63 pts, Alan Donato (BRA) 10.17 pts, Dylan Melamed (HAW) 0.00 pts
Heat 5: Vincent Duvignac (FRA) 12.43 pts, Gustavo Fernandes (BRA) 11.60 pts, Sebastien Zietz (HAW) 8.83 pts, Weverton Nunes (PRT) 4.50 pts
Heat 6: Christophe Allary (REU) 13.73 pts, Chad du Toit (ZAF) 12.60 pts, Halley Batista (BRA) 10.26 pts, Russell Winter (GBR) 5.00 pts
Heat 7: Shaun Ward (USA) 13.67 pts, TJ Barron (HAW) 12.44 pts, Oli Adams (GBR) 11/14 pts, Ricardo Lange (DEU) 10.00 pts
Heat 8: Mark Mathews (AUS) 15.50 pts, Che Stang (USA) 14.00 pts, Mason Ho (HAW) 10.16 pts, Alexander El Naib (DEU) 0.00 pts
Heat 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.27 pts, Eric Geiselman (USA) 13.43 pts, Nick White (NZL) 12.90 pts, Cheyne Willis (HAW) 3.63 pts
Heat 10: Bobby Hansen (NZL) 14.76 pts, Jayke Sharp (AUS) 12.56 pts, Simon Marchand (FRA) 11.14 pts, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 9.77 pts
Heat 11: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 17.10 pts, Granger Larsen (HAW) 12.39 pts, Matt Pagan (USA) 9.83 pts, Igor Morais (BRA) 9.04 pts
Heat 12: Cory Lopez (USA) 11.00 pts, Madison Williams (USA) 10.06 pts, Romain laulhe (FRA) 9.16 pts, David Mailman (USA) 4.66 pts