After several days of strong onshore winds, competition at the ASP Men's 6-Star Oceano Santa Catarina Pro finally began under sunny skies and waves in the 2-foot range (0.5-meter) at Praia da Joaquina. A total of 16 heats were completed in the Round of 144 and saw former World Championship Tour (WCT) competitor Dusty Payne (HAW) receive the highest scores of the day, including a nine-point ride, as well as the highest heat wave total of 15.67 on the first day of competition.
"It's very tough out there today and I thought that the scores would be even higher because it's so difficult to find good waves," said Payne, who is recovering from surgery. "I had a procedure done on my knee and I haven't competed a lot this year. So I'm just happy to be surfing and competing again. Today was a special day."
Head Judge at the Oceano Santa Catarina Pro, Sergio Gadelha, also commented on Payne's best ride. "It was only a two-maneuver wave, but it was executed with full commitment, explosive power and rail-to-rail surfing that used the full extension of the wave and ticked off all the aspects in the judging criteria. You don't need to throw a lot of turns, but they do need to be done with distinction and he was able to show that with a high level of precision, even though it was a short wave. So he definitely deserved the score he got."
"Wave conditions are very complicated out there, but once you get in sync and find a rhythm to the sets, it can get really fun," said Lightfoot. "I'm stoked that I got some good scores at the end of the heat and came out on top. I haven't had any good results this year, so I'm hoping to win a few more heats to be able to gain some ground in the rankings."
Coming close to equaling Payne's high score, Luel Felipe (BRA) earned an 8.57 on his highest scoring wave and also advanced into Round 2 in a tight race, defeating Hodei Collazo (EUK) and Luke Davis (USA).
"I'm so thankful that I got that wave in the dying seconds," Felipe said. "I have to admit that I was very nervous throughout the heat. I decided to focus on the righthanders and stay selective and only to paddle for the good ones, but my high score came on a left. I'm so excited that I won that heat."
With only a few remaining ASP Qualification Series (QS) events left in the season, over 20 countries are being represented at the Oceano Santa Catarina Pro, including Brazil, the U.S., South Africa, Spain, Venezuela, France, Peru, New Zealand, Japan, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile and the Reunion Island. The winner of the event will take home U$25,000 in prize money and 3,500 vital points going toward their QS ranking.
A call is set for 7:00 am local time for continuation of the contest. In the Men's division, competition will resume with Heat 17 of Round 1 and will include Tristan Guilbaud (FRA), Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Lucas Santamaria (ARG) and Gustavo Ramos (BRA). Watch all the action LIVE at www.oceanopro.com.