Hawaiian young gun John John Florence led a strong contingent of barrel riding chargers to advance to the quarterfinals of the Billabong Rio Pro. A strong swell brought with it heavy overhead barrels at the beachbreak of Barra da Tijuca, and tube riders like Florence flourished in the bombing conditions.
“I couldn’t get a good wave and dug my rail a lot at the start of my heat,” said Florence. “That one good barrel came through and I was just trying to figure out what the conditions were doing. I was searching for any kind of peak and couldn’t find one, then I got the wave at the last second. I’m stoked to make the Quarters here in Brazil. For me to be able to make Quarters here is amazing.”
Florence automatically advanced to the quarterfinals with his round four victory over Julian Wilson and Taj Burrow. Wilson would go on to advance to the quarterfinals while Burrow was eliminated in round five.
“It was Taj and Julian and those are two guys you never want to have in a heat,” said Florence. “It was windy when I first paddled out and I was trying to do airs and have fun with it. Then the wind stopped and I got the one in the middle of the heat that was a pretty decent barrel. I finally got that last one and there was only 10 seconds left. I wasn’t even sure I had gotten the score when I hit the beach.”
Florence and Wilson will have a rematch in the quarterfinals.
The heat of the day may have been in round five, when Joel Parkinson faced off against Jordy Smith. Parkinson scored two deep barrels to advance and send Smith home. “It was just one of those heats where I waited for a while and got one good one and thought ‘that could be amazing, just that one wave,’” said Parkinson. “Then I got another one. Poor Jordy really got nothing. It was a lot like home, the good ones have a really nice draw on the water off of the bank. It’s really dumpy, so you air drop into it and it’s hard to find a rail. Who would have thought you’d come to Brazil and get two 9s getting barreled?”
Mick Fanning, who is technically the number one surfer on the ASP World Tour after dropping every competitor’s lowest contest score, also advanced.
Visit billabongpro.com for complete results and webcast coverage of the Billabong Rio Pro. Video highlights below.