The intensity increased at the ASP 6-Star Oceano Santa Catarina Pro as the top seeded surfers entered the lineup for the Round of 96. Davey Cathels (AUS) earned a 9.50 (out of a possible 10 points) on his best ride in addition to the event's highest heat total -- a 17.83 -- in his victory in Heat 6.
"The conditions were at their best during my heat. I think the tide filled in and the waves were a lot of fun," commented Cathels. "I prefer surfing lefts, so when a larger set came in, I was able to fit in two strong backside snaps for that 9.50 on my best wave. I hope to make a few more heats in this event. Right now I'm in 27th on the QS ranking and I need a good result before the year ends so I can make it onto the WCT in 2015."
Kiron Jabour (HAW) was unsuccessful in his aerial attempts, but was still able to qualify into Round of 48 along with former World Championship Tour (WCT) athlete Nathan Hedge (AUS). The pair defeated Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF) and Cahill Bell-Warren (AUS) in Heat 2 of Round of 96.
"I tried to land some airs at the end of the heat and I almost made one on a righthander, so it was good to get rid of my nervousness," remarked Jabour. "I'm not doing as well in the rankings as I was compared to last year around this time, so I came to Brazil wanting to do my best. Everyone wants to win, myself included, but I'm pretty used to the waves here are Praia da Joaquina. Last week, I was in Hawaii surfing on a 6'10" at Sunset Beach and now I'm competing here in much smaller waves. But it's all good, just to be in this wonderful place makes it all worthwhile."
Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) made his debut scoring an 8.73 and an 8.17 in Heat 1 of the Round of 96. He is one of two surfers who has already qualified for the 2015 elite Tour.
"After six years of hard work and dedication, I finally achieved my dream of qualifying onto the WCT," Dantas said. "I'm very happy, but it still hasn't sunk in. I'm still training hard because my goal is to be the ASP Qualification Series (QS) champion this year, so that's what I'm focusing on. It took a while for me to get on the Tour, but for me, suffering means growth. I got very close to qualifying by one or two spots, but now, the positive thing is that I feel better prepared to face the best surfers in the world."
Dantas also commented on the return of the Brazilian leg of the QS after a four-year interlude. "It's so important for us Brazilians to have events here in Brazil. We've been pretty successful recently, especially with Gabriel Medina fighting for the World Title. Everyone said that it would be difficult for a Brazilian to become World Champion, but he is very close to attaining our collective dream."
"I think Medina's going to win," he continued. "I'm a good friend of his and I'm sure he's going to be the first to bring the title to Brazil. He's been surfing at another level and he can surf Pipeline really well too. All of Brazil is behind him and we'll be sure to support him in Hawaii."
Aside from Dantas, Jesse Mendes (BRA) currently sits in eighth place on the QS rankings and expects to qualify with a strong finish in 2014. In Heat 5 of Round 2, Mendes took first place by scoring an 8.27 and a 7.67 on his two best waves.
"The longer I take [to qualify for the WCT], the more pressure I'll start to feel, so hopefully I can get this done while I'm still in Brazil," said Mendes. "Competing in your own country is so much better. You know what kind of waves to expect since I've been surfing these types of beachbreaks since I can remember. When we compete in a foreign country, the entire crowd is rooting for their surfers, so it's great to feel all of the support from the fans on the beach here in Brazil."