Hurry Up and Wait at the 2013 Billabong Rio Pro

Extended Flat Spell has Competitors, Spectators, and Webcast Fans Worried

Brazil's Gabriel Medina stays loose on the lay days in Rio.
Brazil’s Gabriel Medina stays loose on the lay days in Rio.

Although the first round of the men’s heats were finished almost a week ago, competitors, spectators, and online fans have had to wait it out for days until the next swell hits Barra De Tijuca Beach in Rio. A new pulse of swell is expected to arrive this Friday. When considering the sub-par conditions this and every year in Rio, the question that begs to be asked is, why the heck is the so-called “Dream Tour” competing in Rio in the first place?

Ipanema Beach in Rio. No swell, but what a view!
Ipanema Beach in Rio. No swell, but what a view!

Most people will say it’s because of the money. And they would be correct, but not entirely. Yes, money is the driving force of this and every professional surf contest around the world. There’s no secret there. It’s also easy to see that money is the driving force when you notice that the Billabong Rio Pro has the biggest prize purse on the ASP World Tour. But there is also a need for the ASP to have an event in Brazil to be fair to it’s competitors on tour. With 7 out of 36 competitors on tour being Brazilian, it makes perfect sense to give the guys from South America an event where they can feel what it’s like to have a home crowd root for them. Every other surfer on tour has an event in their home country (Australia, USA, Hawaii, Europe, South Africa had J-Bay), so why not Brazilians?

But why does it have to be in Rio? There are certainly better waves to the north at Fernando De Noronha, or to the south at FlorianĂ³polis. Yet for three years, the surfing world has had to struggle through watching the best surfers in the world waist a tour stop in the closeout beachbreaks of Rio. All it does is add to the growing disdain from fans of the sport of competitive surfing.

Brazilian and Hurley team rider Alejo Muniz rips it up in the tiny conditions this week.
Brazilian and Hurley team rider Alejo Muniz rips it up in the tiny conditions this week.
Bede Durbidge busts an air in knee hi surf at Barra de Tijuca.
Australian Bede Durbidge busts an air in knee hi surf at Barra de Tijuca.
O'Neill team manager Jarrad Howse, Billabong Legend Occy, and ASP Rookie Seabass Zeitz took the SUP's out on a mission all the way to the islands in the back ground.
O’Neill team manager Jarrad Howse, Billabong Legend Occy, and ASP Rookie Seabass Zeitz took the SUP’s out on a mission all the way to the islands in the back ground.

As soon as the ASP realizes that over a million people watching a webcast is more valuable than tens of thousands on the beach, maybe some progress will occur. Until then, we will have to deal with small closeouts at Rio.

This is the nearby Favela. Adriano De Souza grew up here. Now do you see why he tries so hard? He has had to fight his whole life for everything he has, and is an inspirational figure in his home country. It makes the growing pains that wealthy surfers like Kolohe or Julian had seem to pale in comparison.
This is the nearby Favela. Adriano De Souza grew up here. Now do you see why he tries so hard? He has had to fight his whole life for everything he has, and is an inspirational figure in his home country. It makes the growing pains that wealthy surfers like Kolohe or Julian had seem to pale in comparison.

The next call will be Thursday morning at 6:30am BST, but it’s most likely that the remaining rounds will be held on Friday and Saturday. First up is the elimination Round 2 featuring three smoking hot heats to start the day. World Tour #2 Taj Burrow faces off against wild card Gustavo Fernandes in Heat #1. Heat #2 features Josh Kerr, who is trying to get back in the top 10, versus another wildcard Messias Felix. Heat #3 is a duesy as Julian Wilson will face wildcard Jack Freestone in what will surely be an aerial duel.

Watch live on the Billabong Rio Pro webcast here.

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