ERICEIRA, Portugal (Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007) - The Buondi Billabong Pro 6 Star WQS event got underway today in the world famous town of Ericeira, home of the current WQS #3 and defending champion Tiago Pires (PRT). Due to inconsistent swell at Ribeira D’Ilhas, the event was moved south to the beachbreak of Sao Juliao, clean 2 ft righthanders offeringg the first contestants a good start.

Surfing in heat 1, longtime competitor Chris Davidson (AUS) opened the day in great from, dominating his three opponents with a 16.00 pts overall tally to advance, securing the second best heat score of the day.

“I was surprised to see my name down in heat 1 of the event, but just forgot about it and tried to start my campaign the best I could. And it ended well as I found a few waves to get those good scores."

Much awaited after his semifinal result in the 2 Star Billabong Pro Junior sunday, Wiggoly Dantas (BRA) was one of today’s standouts, the 18-year-old rising star getting a 7.50 pts ride to take the lead before wrapping up his battle with a 6.53 pointer and advance to round 2.

Oldest competitor of the event, Tinguinha Lima (PRT) – 42 years old- managed to qualify for round 2 in front of young guard leader Yassine Ramdaini (MAR), with a very convincing level, showing he could still surf against the best. Former brazilian professional surfer who settled in Portugal years ago, Lima will be one to watch in next round’s battles, his experience and technique making him a dangerous outsider.

Today’s best wave score went to 21-year-old James Athorn (AUS). Surfing in heat 9 with Junior Faria (BRA), Josh Dowthwaite (AUS) and Adrien Toyon (REU), Athorn faced a strong resistance against an ofire Faria who took the lead with an impressive 8.67 pts ride.

Slowly getting the rythm, Athorn then scored two excellent scores back-to-back posting a two-wave combined heat score of 17.10 pts out of possibel 20.

“I didn’t really know where to sit before my heat as the tide had filled in a lot since the beginning of the morning. On my fifth wave I took off on a long running wall to string four turns, and it put me back second.

“From then I just wanted to secure my spot and surfed the next wave really well, getting an 8.93. Pretty stoked to start that way," confessed Athorn.

With his performance, Athorn grabbed the best single wave score of the day, getting a 8.93 pts reward during heat 9 today.

The Buondi Billabong Pro has its main site at Ribeira d’Ilhas but holds two back up contest sites at Sao Juliao and El Reef in order to get any swell directions for the biggest event in Portugal. Round 1 is underway, and we hope the event will have restarted by the time you read this.

World Qualifying Series leaders Jordy Smith (ZAF) and Dane Reynolds (USA) will soon get ready to face defending champion and local hero Tiago Pires (PRT), who will surf this week for a possible hat-trick at home. Asked about the pressure of coming back as a double defending champion in Hossegor, Pires was just relaxed.

“ I’d love to win three in a row... I know the wave more than anyone, I surf here all year and can take the most out of the sections at Ribeira d’Ilhas. I am confident and I know the crowd will make it hard for my opponents."

Thousands of spectators are expected throughout the week and the show might get as hot as a brazilian football game !

Eleven heats were held in the first half of the day at Sao Jualio, until the incoming tide forced all surfers and organisers to put the event on hold and hope for a possible restart around 6 Pm later tonight.

The call is set tomorrow at 7.30 AM and we hope for an increase of the waves.

Buondi Billabong Pro Event Site