SAQUAREMA, Rio de Janeiro (Saturday, July 18, 2009) – In an all-Brazilian Final, and in his second consecutive Final, Neco Padaratz (32) claimed the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Coca-Cola Saquarema Pro presented by Rip Curl over an in-form Hizunome Bettero (23), in good two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves at the main site of Itauna Beach at Saquarema.
Event No. 20 on the 2009 ASP WQS Men’s Tour, the Coca-Cola Saquarema Pro saw perfect waves throughout the week and marked the return of Saquarema City into the ASP WQS Tour.
Neco Padaratz (10.84 points of possible 20) defeated Hizunome Bettero (9.40 points), rocketing to him to No. 54 on the ASP WQS, gaining 57 positions and pocketing US$20,000 as well as 2,500 ASP WQS ratings points.
“Saquarema is great!” Padaratz said. “There are people that say that in Brazil there are no good waves, but they say that because they don’t know Saquarema. I am very happy and excited. Recently, I was going through a hard time in my life with my injury, but I knew that one day my time would come. I’m really happy, but I have a long road ahead to reach all my dreams.”
Attacking the 35-minute Final of the Coca-Cola Saquarema Pro pres. by Rip Curl with unprecedented determination, Padaratz rode every lump of swell, snatching an early heat lead with a 6.17 (out of 10.00) for some clean frontside turns, riding out in an explosion of whitewater off his final maneuver.
While his opponent Bettero opted to play the patience game, catching his first good wave at the 20 minute mark, Bettero projected fast out of his top turns, maintaining speed and power in the wind-affected waves to score a 6.77.
After that, Padaratz smashed a small lefthander and with three backside turns, got a 4.67 wave and further extend his lead over Bettero, who was left looking for a 4.07. As time ran down, Bettero was unable to find another wave and Padaratz finished in first at the Coca-Cola Saquarema Pro, his second final in a row (he finished in second last week in Florianopolis).
An emotional Padaratz was chaired up the beach by his friend Raoni Monteiro, surrounded by a sea of adoring fans and media crew all wanting a piece of the newly-crowned champ.
“Unfortunately the waves dissapeared in the Final,” Padaratz said. “I had a mistake on a good wave that could increase my leading, but with no more waves coming, Bettero couldn’t do anything. I will continue fighting. Slowly I will returning to my best shape.”
“I want to congratulate Hizu (Hizunome Bettero), who is a great surfer, and also for providing Saquarema this special moment for us, in this unforgettable Final,” Padaratz continued. “We had excellent waves all week that left everyone happy here. Saquarema is a wonderful place and will be forever in my heart.”
The Coca-Cola Saquarema Pro runner-up Brazilian Hizunome Bettero finished with his career best result, taking home US$10,000 and 2,188 ASP WQS points as well as a serious boost of confidence, Bettero moved from 119th to 70th place in the ASP WQS ratings.
“The wind came right in the final, so there is not a lot I could do,” Bettero said. “This is the nature, it happens every time. But Padaratz is a great friend, a guy who inspired me since childhood and a Final with him is an immense pleasure. If I win, I would be super happy, but I am also happy for his victory. I accompanied him for many years since the ASP World Tour and now it’s the time to him come back, so there is no problem losing to him.”
Finishing in equal third positions in the Coca-Cola Saquarema Pro pres. by Rip Curl were the Australian Brent Dorrington (22) and Brazilian Willian Cardoso (23). Both surfers earned US$5,000 each as well as 1,875 ASP WQS ratings points with Dorrington moving to 47th position and Cardoso to the 24th place on the 2009 ASP WQS ratings.
Netting good to great performances all week, Dorrington was relegated into second place by an in-form Bettero during their Semifinal clash, the Australian needing only a 6.90 to advance to the Final of Coca-Cola Saquarema Pro pres. by Rip Curl.
”If I had known I was going to come here and get third, I would have been stoked, but to need a 7 to make a Final is incredibly disappointing because I’ve caught hundreds of good waves this week,” Dorrington said. “Unfortunately, the waves got messy and I fell off a little bit. It’s disappointing but I’m still happy with this result. I will come back here in Brazil in a few months and maybe I got another good result.”
The Brazilian young surfer Willian Cardoso (23) suffered a similar Semifinal loss. After posting a excellent 9.00 during the Quarterfinal, Cardoso lost confidence against Padaratz in the Semis, but a third place in the Coca-Cola Saquarema Pro still a good result for Cardoso, who still close to the top fifteen surfers of the ASP WQS Ranking.
“The waves were really hard with the high tide and the on-shore winds, very bumpy and I couldn’t do too much in the semis. It was a pity, but I stocked because this is my best result in years and Neco is a warrior” said Cardoso. “Brazil was great for me, I had a sequence of good heats and now I have more two good results”.
Cardoso also spoke about his friend Padaratz after the semifinals of Coca-Cola Saquarema Pro pres. by Rip Curl. “It is difficult to see a guy who always fight until the end, he made an excellent contest, he is my idol. I had the opportunity to travel with him, to live with him and he deserves the best, he is a great guy”.
ASP WQS No. 1 Jadson Andre (BRA) took home an equal fifth place finish, same result as last week at Florianopolis, joining fellow Quarterfinalists Royden Bryson (ZAF), Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) and Brett Simpson (USA), all of whom earned US$ 2.950 and 1.625 points.