Stop No. 3 of the 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina, is preparing for the ASP Top 45 to assault the punchy beachbreaks of Imbituba, and with a lightning hot ASP World Title race and the heightened intensity of the mid-year Top 32 cut-off, the scene has been set for an explosive showdown in Brazil.
Taj Burrow (AUS), 31, current ASP World No. 1, has been near unstoppable over the past several months, collecting a win at Pipeline, a win at Burleigh Heads, a win at Snapper Rocks, a Runner-Up at Margaret River and an Equal 3rd at Bells Beach. The juggernaut run has cemented the Western Australian firmly at the top of the ASP World Tour ratings and the potential of a maiden ASP World Title looms in the distance.
“I'm trying not to think about that (the ASP World Title race) too much," Burrow said. “I've learned that spending too much time looking at ratings doesn't work for me. My approach doesn't change. I'm just putting the results at the back of my mind and heading to each event looking to have as much fun as I can. If the results keep coming then great, if not I won't be getting hung up on it."
A former winner in Brazil, Burrow is always a favorite in the rippable banks of Imbituba and will be a major threat heading into this week’s event.
“I love Brazil," Burrow said. “The place has been so good to me throughout my career. I've spent the past ten days in Sydney, surfing some beachies and keeping fit and trying some new boards. Everything is feeling good and I can't wait to get over there."
Despite Burrow’s ratings’ lead, former nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 38, took out the last event at Bells Beach and sits in Burrow’s rearview mirror as the current ASP World No. 2.
“Kelly (Slater) is always a threat, but it's too early in the year to be trying to protect a ratings’ lead," Burrow said.
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 22, into his third season on the elite ASP World Tour, has found his form in 2010, finishing Runner-Up on the Gold Coast and Equal 5th at Bells Beach, resulting in his current No. 3 ASP World rating.
“I am really happy with my first two contest results," Smith said. “They are just about the same rating as I was last year at this time. However, I have taken a more relaxed approach to this year as I feel my surfing has jumped up a notch due to good support from my support team. I have found what works for me and that’s to just have fun surfing. Of course, staying in shape, eating healthy and staying away from all the overload that seems to follow us around helps too."
Considered at the forefront of the progressive surfing movement, Smith’s penchant for nailing high-flying aerials and executing fin-free combinations could do some major damage in the punchy beachbreacks of Brazil.
“The thing about the waves in Brazil is that they are very much like our waves in South Africa," Smith said. “We have so many beachbreaks up and down our coastline here, which I have surfed so often, and this has allowed me to train in weaker and trickier conditions and also has allowed me to prepare my equipment for these conditions. The thing about this beachbreak is that it can be so fickle, but can also deliver great waves as it has multiple peaks. You just have to hope that you’re in sync with the ocean and score a heat that is on."
Mick Fanning (AUS), 28, reigning two-time ASP World Champion, built momentum after a slow start on the Gold Coast with a Runner-Up finish at Bells Beach. Imbituba is the site where Fanning claimed his maiden ASP World Title (2007), and the fleet-footed Australian will look to relive the magic here in 2010.
“It was good to get a strong result at Bells as I was disappointed in the Quik Pro," Fanning said. “It's still early days but consistency is always key. I feel very comfortable in Brazil and I have been on a Reef promo shoot in Panama just getting fit in between the busy schedule so I’m accustomed to the Central/South American water and prepared for Brazil."
The waiting period for the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina will begin on Friday, April 23 and run through May 2, 2010.
The Billabong Pro Santa Catarina will be webcast LIVE via www.aspworldtour.com/santacatarina