Day one of the Billabong Pro Rio consisted primarily of higher seeds taking easy control. Both the Billabong Pro Rio and the Women’s Billabong Pro Rio ran in clean head high to overhead surf at the secondary venue of Arpoador, a solid backhand beachbreak. Julian Wilson, the defending ASP Rookie of the Year, posted a high round one score of 17.14 to advance easily to round three of the contest.
“I got kind of lucky there because Freddy (Patacchia) didn’t go on that wave,” said Wilson. “The set before that, Freddy went on the first wave and the one behind was better. I think he was worried about that happening again and when that second set came through, it lined up really well for me. I got to my feet straight away, but then saw that the section was still building and wasn’t really there yet. I took my time and squared it up because I really wanted to get strong starts to those waves, keep it clean and not try to rush it.”
Wilson is making an attempt at redemption after his early first round exit at last week’s Nike Lowers Pro. “I think after that heat at Lowers where I had the interference today was a bit of redemption,” said Wilson. “To come down here, I still had a bit of frustration and I just wanted to come out of the gates strong and get a good solid start. The waves were really fun in that heat, so it was exciting to do well.”
Taj Burrow is another highly ranked surfer looking to rebound after his disappointing round three defeat at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Burrow opened with a strong 16.16 score to advance directly to round three, and admitted that it was a relief not to have to surf in the second round.
“It’s always good to get that first round out of the way,” said Burrow. “Skipping the second round is a real treat. I hate that round and it was great to catch a couple of fun lefts. It was kind of inconsistent at the start. My board was brand new, so I was a bit nervous, but it went well. Bells was a shocker and they always hurt, especially after a win. I was hungry and confident to back it up and had an absolute meltdown there. It happens, but I don’t feel any pressure. I know exactly what I did wrong. I surf better when I’m relaxed and happy and want to have fun. I put pressure on myself down there, but that’s not how I operate. Here, there’s no pressure.”
While the Billabong Pro Rio saw a relative absence of major first round upsets, a lot of the favorites in the Women’s Billabong Pro Rio lost in their opening round heat. Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Courtney Conlogue, Laura Enever, Paige Hareb and Coco Ho are among the surfers who were upset and have to surf an additional round. Visit billabongpro.com for complete results and webcast coverage of the Billabong Pro Rio.