Reigning Brazillian Surfing Champion Jihad Khodr, 23, stamped his Nation’s authority on the 6-Star ASP World Qualifying Series Mr Price Pro by becoming the fourth Brazilian surfer to win the event in eight years at Durban’s New Pier this weekend.
Khodr, who entered the event rated No. 25 on the WQS, defeated Fosters ASP World Tour No. 12 Jeremy Flores (Reunion) in the Final, jumping to an incredible third position on the WQS ratings whilst taking home a total of R111,000 (US$15,000) in prize money.
“I can’t believe it; I tried so hard to win here! Everyone comes to win but this was my time. All my friends were here supporting me and my Dad made a big party for me at home, sending me lots of good energy from Brazil, this is like a dream come true!” said Khodr.
An absolute standout from start to finish, Khodr’s electric surfing saw him take a total of five out of six heat victories to reach the Final, reveling in the waves similar to those of his home break in Southern Brazil.
Equaling the highest individual wave score of the event captured by Alain Riou (Tahiti) earlier in the week, Khodr posted two 9.33’s and went on to post the highest combined two wave heat total, a 17.80 (out of a possible 20.00), which he captured in an thrilling Semifinal clash against Australian Jay Thompson, who finished equal third.
Marching into the Final, Khodr looked like the favourite son from the get go, opening up with a spectacular hands free aerial and a punchy reentry, sliding his tail out to earn a 7.33. Flores on the other hand seemed somewhat out of sorts, the Frenchman failing to score more than a 6.67 and allowing Khodr to pull away.
At the 11 minute mark, Khodr stroked into a good looking wave, performing four massive tail release re-entries, throwing buckets of spray that earned him a perfect 9.00 score across the board, from which Flores was never able to recover.
“The standard of surfing was so high and it was very hard to win this contest. The waves were excellent here, Jeremy Flores was ripping, and so was Josh Kerr and Jay Thompson, and to win the event with so many World Tour surfers competing, has given me the confidence to qualify for the World Tour,” Khodr said, having finished third at this event in 2005.
Flores, 19, who surfed a total of nine heats – the most heats surfed to reach the final in the history of the event – did well to finish second, earning R55,500 (US$7500) despite surfing boards that were shaped for the more powerful waves of Jeffreys Bay, where he will be competing in a World Tour event next week.
“I’m very happy with this result. Of course, a win would have been better but I’m still very happy. Every man on man heat I get to surf is great practice for the World Tour. I’m very stoked with the waves here at New Pier, every year we get good waves and it’s one of the better stops on the WQS for sure, I will definitely be back next year!” Flores said.
The Reunion born surfer was the youngest competitor ever to qualify for the ASP World Tour after winning the WQS in 2006, and impressed all throughout the event by taking down Tiago Pires (Portugal) in a seesaw battle during the Semifinals, which saw Flores take the lead in the final two minutes to win the heat.
Pires who finished equal 3rd, earning US$4500 (R33,300) has assumed the No. 1 position on the WQS ratings ahead of Durban’s Jordy Smith, who slipped down to 2nd when he failed to advance through his first heat on Thursday. Equal 3rd place finisher Jay Thompson’s result has moved him from 15th up to 5th on the WQS ratings and the Australian will also be making a solid charge for a World Tour berth next year.
South Africa’s last standing competitor David Weare (Durban) reached the Men’s Round of 16 where he was defeated by Josh Kerr (Australia) in the first heat of the day, to finish equal 9th earning R14,000 and has climbed to 35th position on the WQS.
The Mr Price Pro Men’s Final saw hundreds of surfing supporters flock to the beach at New Pier to witness the crowning of the 2007 Men’s Champion, which was broadcast live on SABC 1, while the Mr Price Pro website enjoyed record traffic with a total of 5.2 Million unique hits recorded today alone, most of which came from France.
The Mr Price Pro, the richest WQS event in South Africa holding a total prize-money purse of R1,075 Million, saw over 300 surfers from the world’s leading surfing nations compete over the ten day period which formed part of the Durban Beach Festival.
Jihad Khodr, BRA 16.33; Jeremy Flores, FRA 12.14
Semi Final 1
Jihad Khodr, BRA 17.80; Jay Thompson, AUS 16.50
Semi Final 2
Jeremy Flores, FRA 14.00; Tiago Pires, PRT 13.00