You've got to imagine Australian Mitch Crews is a little sore this morning. It's probably not so much from long paddles out the back or bouncing off a reef. The 23-year-old Cooly kid must just be peeved to have taken second place at the ASP 4-star Hainan Classic at Riyue Bay, Wanning, China. A second place you he can probably live with, but not when he just took the silver medal at the China Cup, the ISA event that coupled with the Hainan Classic, created the 2013 Riyue Bay International Surfing Festival.
After very solid swell the first year of the festival, 2013 had something to be desired in terms of waves. This new frontier of surfing did produce clean, and relatively consistent small surf throughout, but it definitely played a factor in both events.
Although Australia won the team gold medal, which is the main focus of the China Cup, Crews ceded the individual mens gold to Michael Rodrigues, an unsponsored Brazilian. On Monday, he fell to Caio Ibelli, the 2011 Billabong World Junior Champ and a top ASP qualifying surfer, also from Brazil. If you recall, 2012 was a breakout year for many Brazilians. Might this point to more of the same?
Ibelli handled Gabe Kling in the quarterfianal, who called Ibelli the, "guy I didn't want to draw when it went to man-on-man." Then Ibelli edged out fellow Brazilian Matheus Navarro in the semi. He bookended the final against Crews with his two best waves -- an 8.33 on his opening wave and a 9.17 in the closing minutes of the heat. He won the final, 17.50-11.
Crews had to beat out Made Widiarta, of Indonesia. This event featured several Indonesians and is a great opportunity for them to start building points without leaving Asia.
"I feel stoked," Widiarta said in the press release, "This is pretty much my first time in an ASP star event and to make the Semifinal is great for me. I'm so stoked. The conditions got hard out there and I saw Mitch (Crews) get a good wave, but I couldn't find one. It was still fun, I'm so happy now."
The event secured some decent ratings points for those in the final rounds. Unfortunately for them, although the Volcom Pipeline Pro has yet to start, even if they could get to Oahu on time, they won't get their slots.
Overall, ISA President Fernando Aguerre was very pleased despite the difference in swell from 2012.
"This has been an amazing event filled with lots of surprises," said Aguerre. "Congratulations to Caio Ibelli for his incredible performance in the long winding waves at the left point in Riyue Bay."
He also hinted at bigger things for this festival in the future.