Brazil's Young Star Muniz Leads Estoril Quiksilver Pro Favorites on Day 2
ESTORIL, Guincho, Portugal - The second day of the Estoril Quiksilver Pro 2009 saw some spectacular action take place at Guincho, back-up beach of the ASP WQS 6-Star event, with three foot (one meter) greeting top seeds for their start of their Portuguese campaign. The international field of contestants displayed a variety of classic and progressive surfing throughout today’s twenty heats with most of the favourites finding their way out of Round 2 and secure their spot in the last 48-man pack.
Dominating by far proceddings today was 19-year-old Brazilian wunderkind Alejo Muniz (BRA) with impressive levels of surfing combining solid classic re-entries with flying maneuvers in the tricky fast-breaking waves of Guincho. Muniz, who has been rising on the international surfing stage for a couple of years now since he won the Under-16 Quiksilver King of the Groms event in France, clearly expressed his building confidence besting ASP Dream Tour Michael Picon (Capbreton, FRA), 29, with an explosive 18.60 point heat result (out of a possible 20) to advance through to Round 3 and secure the event’s highest result thus far.
"I just tried to enjoy myself and have fun out there because I knew it would be a tough heat," Muniz said. "Surfing against Michael (Picon) who is an ASP Top 45 member was not going to be easy so I had nothing to lose and just let my surfing speak for me. I was a little b it nervous before paddling out but I got those good waves and I am stoked to make it through today."
Muniz, who netted 9.00 and 9.60 point rides in twenty minutes, left the water with one minute remaining only, confident with his performance knowing he was guaranteed to move forward in the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star competition. Muniz, with his run today, leads all statistics with both best single wave and heat scores before the event reaches its business end where big scores will be expected.
"It gives good confidence to win a heat like that and especially against good surfers," Muniz said. "I don’t have any specific goal here and I am hoping to go as far as possible but there isn’t any pressure as I am not focusing on the WQS yet. I just want to better my seeding and get points for next year."
Fellow Quiksilver team riders Masatoshi Ohno (JPN) and Joan Duru (FRA) came-up with equivalent surfing, the 19-year-old Frenchman keeping-up his last-couple-of-weeks excellent form to post a 9.50 point ride (out of a possible 10) and remain confident towards his target. Duru, who ended up with a promising 14.93 point heat score in Heat 11, will now face outsiders Tinguinha Lima (BRA), Estoril B! Pro Junior runner-up Joaquim Guichard (DNK) and Madison Williams (AUS).
"I am pretty happy with that first run today and it is definitely a relief to get out of Round 2 with a big score," Duru said. "I was pretty relaxed but was not feeling too comfortable on my board and fell quite a few times. I was surfing the board I had in the ASP WQS 4-Star Protest Vendee Pro and things went well so I am happy."
Duru, who made the Quarterfinals of the ASP Grade-2 Estoril B! Pro Junior last Sunday, is targeting a qualification for next year’s ASP World Tour and will be aiming at a big result this week in the Estoril Quiksilver Pro 2009.
"I entered the Pro Junior event to get used to the waves and got through a few heats so I am happy with that event," Duru said. "However, my main goal is to qualify for the Dream Tour this year and I am definitely focused on the major events of the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) to achieve my goal."
Yesterday’s high scorer and ASP Top 45 rookie Tim Boal (Anglet, FRA) managed to advance along with other big names Eric Rebiere (FRA), Justin Mujica (PRT) and Japan’s only representative Masatoshi Ohno (JPN) who ended the day with a solid 15.66 point heat result.
"I like coming to Europe and Portugal, people are so nice and I am having a good time here," Ohno said. "I surfed well enough to win the heat and I am happy with this start as I hope to get a second good result for my overall ratings’ total."
Ohno, who placed equal 5th in the ASP WQS 6-Star O’Neill Cold Water Classic Tasmania last month, will be aiming at another solid finish to keep his Dream Tour qualification hopes alive and become the first ever Japanese surfer to enter the elite of the sport.
Estoril Quiksilver Pro officials will reconvene tomorrow at 8.45 AM at Guincho with twelve 4-man battles scheduled and possibly Round 4 following that.
ESTORIL QUIKSILVER PRO ROUND 3 HEATS
Heat 1: Tiago Pires (PRT), Rudy Marechal (FRA), Frederic Robin (REU), Jack Perry (AUS)
Heat 2: Will Tant (USA), Jorge Spanner (BRA), Rhys Bombaci (AUS), Abdel El Harim (MAR)
Heat 3: Heath Joske (AUS), Romain Cloitre (REU), Luis David (PRT), Txaber Trojaola (EUK)
Heat 4: Gony Zubizarreta (ESP), Simon Marchand (FRA), Mark Matthews (AUS), Marco Giorgi (URY)
Heat 5: Masatoshi Ohno (JPN), Justin Mujica (PRT), Nick White (NZL), Matt Keenan (USA)
Heat 6: Tinguinha Lima (BRA), Joaquim Guichard (DNK), Madison Williams (AUS), Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 7: Alejo Muniz (BRA), Tim Boal (FRA), Marc Lacomare (FRA), Robson Santos (BRA)
Heat 8: Michael Picon (FRA), Vincent Duvignac (FRA), Jano Belo (BRA), Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY)
Heat 9: Leonardo Neves (BRA), Eric Rebiere (FRA), Jose Maria Cabrera (CNY), Hodei Collazo (EUK)
Heat 10: Jay Davies (AUS), Luka Guichard (DNK), Marlon Lipke (DEU), Charles Martin (GLP)
Heat 11: Zahn Foxton (AUS), Brett Barley (USA), Igor Morais (BRA),
Heat 12: Eneko Acero (EUK), Pablo Gutierrez (ESP), Renato Galvao (BRA),