Competition resumed at Praia da Tiririca for another action-packed day at the 2014 ASP 4-Star Mahalo Surf Eco Festival presented by Skol. Wave selection proved to be crucial as athletes faced waves in the 2-to-3-foot range (1-meter), with the occasional larger set and moderate onshore winds.
Krystian Kymerson (BRA) provided a number of highlights, scoring a 16.55 heat total in his Round 3 victory. In 2012, Kymerson won the Surf Eco Festival held in Salvador, Bahia. With a bid into Round 5, he is focused on repeating that feat.
"I've been working hard on coming back from a knee injury I suffered in South Africa," Kymerson said. "I spent two months out of the water, so I'm very focused on getting a good result here. I'm so thankful that I'm able to surf as good as before my injury. My two heats today were my first since I hurt my knee, so it's nice to hear that I was able to get the day's highest scores. I know that no one has ever won this event twice, so my goal is to become the first."
Young local surfer Yage Araujo (BRA) brought the crowd to its feet after pulling off several airs to earn an 8.25. Araujo was called for an interference in the heat that would cut his first eight-point ride in half but his early heroics carried him through into Round 5.
"I feel great and I think that I felt even more relaxed after I got called on that interference, so I just started throwing some airs and I think the judges liked it since they rewarded me for it," stated Araujo. "It's hard to believe that I won the heat even after being called on an interference. But I think the judges saw me going for it on every wave, so they ended up giving me the scores I needed. Now I'm concentrating on not committing the same mistakes in my next heats."
In a stacked heat, Jay Thompson (AUS), Yago Dora (BRA), Michael Rodrigues (BRA) and Kiron Jabour (HAW) fought to the last second to see who would qualify for Round 5. Thompson to an early lead, leaving Dora, Rodrigues and Jabour in a battle for second place. Rodrigues, who had been on a tear in recent events, looked out of sync and was not able to complete his final maneuvers. Despite showing off lightning-quick surfing, Jabour could not find a scoring opportunity and left Dora with a chance in the dying seconds of the heat. Dora wafted consecutive tailslides in tight sections to guarantee his qualification into Round 5 alongside Thompson.
Jesse Mendes (BRA), the only remaining top seed at the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival, also qualified into Round 5 in his heat alongside Cahill Bell-Warren (AUS). Bell-Warren topped the four-man heat, which pit him against three Brazilians.
"It's always tough to face the Brazilians anywhere around the globe, but it's even harder in their country," stated Bell-Warren. "I was lucky enough to find some waves that were good enough to get me into the next round. This is my first time to Brazil and I'm loving everything here... All I need now is a good result to help boost my rankings."
In addition to the crucial ASP Qualifying Series (QS) ranking points being distributed, the ASP 4-Star Mahalo Surf Eco Festival together with the O'Neill SP Prime in Maresias will decide a 2014 ASP South America champion. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) currently leads the South American rankings after his event victory in Mar del Plata, Argentina. His victory over Willian Cardoso (BRA) in Round 4 puts him a step closer to earning the continental title.
"I'm leading the rankings, but I don't even want to think about that. I just want to take things heat by heat and focus on the waves at this competition," said Ribeiro. "The waves are a little bigger today, but the swell is coming from a different direction, so the peaks are spread out along the beach. You need to stay calm and choose carefully to find a wave that will stand up and let you execute some big turns. I'm glad that I'm still in the event, so let's see how things go tomorrow because my goal is to win the contest."
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