In his maiden ASP victory, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) used his local knowledge at Praia da Joaquina to defeat Santiago Muniz (ARG) on the final day of the ASP 6-Star Oceano Santa Catarina Pro. With his win, Rodrigues earned U$25,000 in prize money and 3,500 ranking points, vaulting him to 42nd place on the ASP Qualification Series (QS).
After being carried up the beach to the podium, Rodrigues said, "I feel pretty emotional right now. I wasn't expecting this victory. I sustained an injury awhile back and when I started surfing again I said to myself that I would train hard as if each day were my last. But I still can't believe that I won."
Throughout the contest, Rodrigues used a variety of aerial maneuvers to reach the Finals of the Oceano Santa Catarina Pro. "I've been working on some different airs and it's given me more confidence to pull them out in competition," said Rodrigues. "I've been surfing in every condition this week here at Joaquina and this result here has given me a lot more confidence. I'm not going to Hawaii this year, but next year I intend to surf in every major event on the QS to try and get on to the WCT (World Championship Tour)."
Muniz is the younger brother of current WCT surfer Alejo Muniz (BRA). Their family grew up a short drive north of Florianopolis in the small town of Bombinhas. With his result today, Muniz took another step closer to joining his brother on the elite Tour.
"I'm very happy with this result," Muniz said. "Getting a runner-up finish gives me a lot of points at the end of the season. There are still a few more important events left this year and I want to do my best to try and qualify for the WCT. I would have loved to have won this event, but Michael had two big airs in the Final and I should have used his strategy. Hopefully next time I'll come out on top."
Several athletes had the opportunity to move up in the rankings after the elimination of the top seeds during the ASP 6-Star Oceano Santa Catarina Pro. Brent Dorrington (AUS) moved up 28 positions to No. 52 on the QS rankings after reaching the Semifinals.
"Moving up the rankings is quite a bonus," stated Dorrington. "I wish I had made the Final, but I just couldn't find a good righthander there. I'm pumped to go to all of the rest of the Primes for the remainder of the year and keep chipping away at it. Hopefully by the end of the year I'll be in the top 10 and it'll be a nasty bonus. I'll be going to the 4-Star event next week in Itacare and I'm stoked to be in Brazil because it's rare to have thee contests in a row in any country."
In the other Semifinal, Muniz took down Tomas Hermes (BRA), who was able to reinforce his QS ranking as he jumped from ninth to seventh place overall.
"It was a very difficult heat because we had a lot less sets when compared to the heat before ours," said Hermes. "Santiago (Muniz) is a very sharp surfer and I wasn't able to demonstrate my rail game in these waves. I tried waiting for a larger set to come, but the high tide made things complicated. There are still a few events in South America before the Primes in Hawaii, so there's still a lot of ground to cover before I can celebrate my qualification onto the WCT."
It is worth mentioning that a handful of athletes caught the attention of the judges, fellow surfers and the crowd at Praia da Joaquina for their overall performances, regardless of event finishes. Torrey Meister (HAW), Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI), Jean Da Silva (BRA), Tanner Hendrickson (HAW), Davey Cathels (AUS), Carlos Munoz (CRI), and Italo Ferreira (BRA) all showed impressive displays of hacks, aerial maneuvers and rail to rail boardriding.
Ferreira climbed into the group of 10 surfers on the QS ranking who could potentially be part of the 2015 WCT.
"I moved up quite a bit in the rankings with this good result, but nothing is settled yet," noted Ferreira. "My goal is to do well at the Prime event in Maresias, which is worth double the points. But first, I'm flying to Portugal to participate in the ASP World Pro Junior Championship and I'm going to try my hardest there as well."