In a battle between two part-time Santa Barbara area residents in Brazil this morning, the one who was actually born here came out on top. Surfing in the Billabong Rio Pro, goofey-foot power broker Bobby Martinez narrowly defeated 10-time and current reigning World Champion Kelly Slater in their Round 3 heat by a score of 14.5 to 14.1.
For Martinez, who entered the contest ranked number 55 in the world, without a major sponsor and in desperate need of a good showing in order to secure his spot amongst the elite on the Association of Surfing Professional (ASP) World Title Series, the result ensures that this contest will mark his best finish in a top tier event in over a year. A humble and focused Martinez summed up after the heat, “I just got lucky, things worked to my advantage.”
In the waist to occasionally overhead beach break peaks of Rio de Janeiro’s Barra Da Tijuca, Martinez used a combination of flowing front side hacks and sneaky tubes along with one lofty and raw backside air to take down Slater.
The win advanced to Martinez to Round 4 where a third place finish sets him up for a Round 5 showdown tomorrow with fellow American surfer Damien Hobgood. If successful, Bobby will find himself in the Quarterfinals of the $620,000 contest.