After 7 years of Hang Loose sponsoring the ASP Santa Catarina Pro held in and around Florianopolis, Brazil, there is now a change of scene. Billabong has taken over the reigns, and has agreed to sponsor the event for the next 7 years. Surf fans the world over should breathe a sigh of relief that the competition will continue, because the Brazilian leg of the tour is something quite special.
This year the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina Pro will see the top 45 surfers in the world compete at Imbituba, the town and beach break about 90 km south of the Santa Catarina's capital city of Florianopolis. The event starts today (23rd April) and continues until 2nd May. The contest sees the biggest cash prize offered in Brazilian surfing, a whopping US$400,000 in prizes to the winning surfers. The ASP's presence in South America helps to promote the sport and encourage the enormous number of surf fans who live in Brazil.
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For over 30 years Brazil has held surf competitions, and for the last 7 years Santa Catarina state has seen some of the best of the them. The beach at Imbituba provides some of the most consistent swell along the coast. Receiving direct swell from the Atlantic ocean, the beach break receives punchy lefts and rights that work in small conditions right the way through to big sets that turn into hollow rides. Ideal for diverse and progressive surfing- just what the ASP's new judging criteria is looking for.
Since the event's inception on the world tour in 2003, winners have included Damien Hobgood, Bede Durbidge, Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow and Kelly Slater. It was Slater who won last year's event, so now the attention will be on Slater as he comes from his first win of the season at Bells Beach. However, Taj Burrows is leading the tour ratings and has been in great form recently.
There is going to a lot of attention focused on this event to see who can take the lead in the world tour Last year the superb Brazilian surfer Adriano de Souza came runner-up to Slater, de Souza is now sitting at equal 6th in the tour rankings with past event winner Bede Durbidge and world champion runner-up Joel Parkinson; no doubt- all of whom are hungry for the win.
Watch the championship unfold online at https://www.aspworldtour.com/santacatarina/, and this time there is no excuse to miss any of the action as Santa Catarina is only -3hrs GMT. So for those of us in Europe it wont require late nights or energy drinks to stay up and watch the competition as the Aussie contests did.
For a taster of last year's final at the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro 2009, take a look at the clip of Kelly Slater and Adriano de Souza battling it out below: