HUNTINGTON BEACH, California (Sunday, April 25, 2010) – The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour is amidst the third event on the 2010 calendar with the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina, and the opening rounds saw American rookies Patrick Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 24, and younger brother Tanner Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 21, post solid Round 1 victories while nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, FL), 38, rebounded in Round 2.
With the ASP World Title events narrowing the field of 45 competitors down to 32 at the halfway mark of the season, the first five events will play a crucial role in all competitors’ chances at battling for the 2010 ASP World Title through the back half of the season.
Tanner Gudauskas started off his Billabong Pro Santa Catarina campaign in impressive fashion, relegating ASP Dream Tour staples Dean Morrison (AUS), 29, and Kai Otton (AUS), 30, to Round 2 while advancing directly through to Round 3. With a 33rd and 17th currently in his score line, the young rookie is out to post a breakthrough performance in Brazil.
“I don’t have any more pressure on myself at this event than I do at any other,” Gudauskas (Tanner) said. “Shea Lopez (former ASP World Tour campaigner) gave my brother and me some good advice: he said, the first two events were wave-catching contests and this one is a wave-riding contest. The field is a bit more level and Brazil is where Pat and I need to make our moves.”
Older brother Patrick Gudauskas, who is currently rated 23rd on the ASP World Title Rankings, clinched his Round 1 victory over Australian talent Ben Dunn (AUS), 24, and ASP World Tour staple Kieren Perrow (AUS), 33.
Round 1 was also a success for several ASP World Title campaigners on the American front, with Dane Reynolds (Ventura, CA), 24, Bobby Martinez (Santa Barbara, CA), 27, 2001 ASP World Champion C.J. Hobgood (Melbourne, FL), 30, twin brother Damien Hobgood (Satellite Beach, F), 30, and veteran Taylor Knox (Carlsbad, CA), 38, all advancing through to Round 3 with Round 1 victories.
Slater, who is fresh off of a victory at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, had a sluggish start to his Billabong Pro Santa Catarina campaign, suffering an early round loss, but appeared back in form in Round 2 when he put on an amazing performance to oust dangerous wildcard Messias Felix (BRA).
“I was just lost at sea yesterday,” Slater said. “Every wave I paddled for seemed to evaporate after one turn. In today’s heat, I was just focused on getting a lot of waves and picking ones that would allow for a lot of maneuvers. It worked out and I’ll keep tweaking things as we move forward.”
Slater, who is currently sitting at ASP World No. 2 on the ASP World Title Rankings, suffered a severe foot injury at Bells despite his eventual victory and is catering to his tender foot in an attempt to build momentum throughout the remainder of the event.
“It’s still pretty ginger,” Slater said. “I didn’t tape it today because I’m no doctor and sometimes when you tape it, it stresses other parts of the foot. It went fine though. It feels good to put a heat together here and hopefully I can build a bit of a rhythm.”
The Billabong Pro Santa Catarina hosts a waiting period from April 23 through May 2, 2010 and is webcast LIVE via www.aspworldtour.com