Bede Durbidge (AUS), 25, claimed his third ASP World Tour career win with a victory at the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro in Imbituba, Brazil, today. Durbidge beat France’s Jeremy Flores 17.76 to 9.86.
“I was totally in rhythm with the waves and Jeremy was on the other side of it,” Durbidge said. “I just tried to pick up those rights. I didn’t really get a good score on the lefts the whole time, so I was hunting those rights and also tried to get good waves in the beginning and surf relaxed. I felt great today, Jeremy was surfing so good and I knew that I had to push my turns.”
Durbidge reclaims the World No. 2 position he held earlier in the year with the win, and heading into the last event of the year in Hawaii as the defending champion, has a good shot at finishing runner-up to nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA). He was rated 4th going into the event.
“It is pretty cool,” Durbidge said. “I’m second to Kelly at the moment and he’s my hero so I am stoked. I will try to put everything and all of my energy into finishing the year that way so let’s see what happens.”
Previous to his 1st place finish today, the best Durbidge had done in Brazil was equal 9th.
“It feels awesome,” Durbidge said. “Brazil definitely has one of the best crowds on tour, the fans are just great and I had an incredible day.”
The final berth against Durbdige was Flores’ first. The 20-year-old was the youngest surfer in history to qualify for the ASP World Tour, and in just his second year on tour, has already proven himself. Unfortunately for him, Durbidge was unstoppable today.
“I’m happy with my result, but sad about the final,” Flores said. “I couldn’t do anything. Bede didn’t give me the time to try to. He got a 9.43 and the only two bombs out there. I didn’t see anything. I was just trying to get anything and I couldn’t – he was ripping for sure.”
Flores has been surfing on an injured ankle for the past few events and, despite not feeling his best, has still had a great season. He sits 10th on the ASP ratings.
“I was injured in a few events this year,” Flores said. “I’m don’t think I’m 100 percent, but I’m back to having good heats, getting some results and I’m much more confident now.”
Flores surfed against the only other French competitor on the ASP World Tour, Miky Picon, 29, in the semifinals. Their respective 2nd and 3rd place results today were career bests for both surfers.
“It was a really good event,” Flores said. “I had fun and Miky surfed good too. That was more important for me probably, his requalification for the tour next year. It was incredible to compete with him in the semifinals.”
Picon, who lost a tight heat to Flores in the semifinals, was equally pleased to have had the opportunity to share the experience with his friend.
“It was a very good heat, the first heat of the year with no pressure, because I was surfing against Jeremy, so anyone who went to the final was good for me,” Picon said. “It was amazing, the feeling that I felt surfing with Jeremy in the semifinal. If I won it was perfect, if I lost it would still be a good result, so I’m happy that my friend went to the final.”
Picon competed on the ASP World Tour in 2006 but failed to finish within the Top 27 to requalify for the following year’s tour. The Frenchman was forced to compete on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) in 2007 to find his way back amongst the elite in 2008. His equal 3rd finish today bumped him from 26th to 18th on the ASP ratings and virtually eliminates the possibility that he will suffer the same fate he did two years ago.
“I’m so happy,” Picon said. “Right now I’m requalifying with this result for next year, so that’s amazing and that gives me a lot more confidence for the tour next year.”
With Flores and Picon requalifying, and Tim Boal (FRA) joining the tour via a WQS Top 15 finish, France will boast three surfers on the ASP World Tour next year – a new record.
Hawaii’s Fred Patacchia Jr., 26, equaled his best result in Brazil with an equal 3rd finish at Imbituba, but was unable to take out a rampaging Durbidge in the semis to find himself in another 2008 final (he finished 2nd in Bali earlier this year).
“It was a tough heat, the conditions have changed a lot, in the earlier heats we had 8.00 and 9.00 point scores, and in that heat I had to wait forever,” Patacchia said. “I was trying to get the best waves but it didn’t work out, Bede surfed a smart heat and got the best waves.”
Patacchia’s highest year-end rating on the ASP World Tour was World No. 14 in 2005 – his rookie year. Now rated 11th and heading into the final event of the year held at home in Hawaii, Patacchia may well post a career-best rating in 2008.
“Yeah, it is always good to get a great result, so I’m happy,” Patacchia said. “I always look forward to surfing at home, theTriple Crown is always incredible for me, so I’m just looking forward to relaxing and being at home, surfing Pipe, Haleiwa, Sunset.”
The final event of the 2008 ASP World Tour will be held at the Banzai Pipeline from December 8-20, 2008.