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|Heitor Alves has been on it, but he may have a bum wheel.|
Heitor Alves has been one of the most exciting surfers of 2011, part of that massive Brazilian push into the top ranks of the ASP. But the No. 14 surfer on the World Tour may be hampered with a knee injury he sustained today at the Billabong Azores Islands Pro.
Today saw the completion of round two, round three and all of round four in a very full day of surf in decreasing swell. Alves had the highest wave of the day at an 8.67, in round three against fellow Brazilian Jesse Mendes, but may have hurt his knee landing an air. He went straight for an ice bag, and then opted out of the "no loser" round three. If it's a non-issue, he can surf the again tomorrow in round five. If it's a more serious injury, he could be in trouble for next week's World Tour Quiksilver Pro France.
The morning began with decent swell, but throughout the day, sets became less consistent. The wind came onshore, creating far from perfect conditions. But there were some semi-clean shoulder high lines to work with for the top dogs who are left. First round high scorers, Adam Melling bowed out of round three, while a tough Freddy Patacchia held off Puerto Rico's Brian Toth and Travis Logie downed Dion Atkinson.
Californian Nate Yeomens had a big day, first sending home Gabe Kling and then exploding through round four against Miguel Pupo and Jay Quinn, of New Zealand.
"This year I don't think I have made the quarters, so just watching the scores from the last couple of events you just have to go for it," said Yeomans. "You may fall on some but you gain with the judges and if you do make it they reward you for it so that was my theory out there and it worked well. Gabe [Kling] can do some of the biggest turns in the business, especially on his backhand and that air I got I saw him looking at me and I stuck it and he was splashing the water so it felt good to get one up on him for sure."
Recently sent home from the World Tour after 10 years of loyal duty, CJ Hobgood proved today that he's not done yet. He downed Pat Gudauskas in round three. But in the final heat of the day, and one of the most interesting, he faced Kolohe Andino and Thiago Camaroa. Andino had been extremely sharp to this point and began the heat by posting an 8.17 for a very progressive air-reverse. At one point, he was surfing circles around both Hobgood and Camaroa.
|Kolohe Andino lost to CJ Hobgood's interesting air and will surf round five.|
But Hobgood leapt from third place to first on one of the most-talked about waves of the afternoon. Sitting on a 7.33 with a miserable back up score, he took off on his forehand, made some speed and launched off a meaty ramp with good projection. At one point, he looked as if he might be trying to rotate an alley oop. But he maintained, came down sideways, and somehow rode out of the wash. After serious deliberation, it turned out to be the highest heat totals of the day and the 2001 World Champ goes right to the quarterfinals.
Andino will have to face Travis Logie. Miguel Pupo has Heitor Alves, should he return. The event should wrap up on Saturday, running from round five through the finals.Upcoming ASP PRIME Billabong Azores Islands Pro Round of 12 Matchups