The Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal got underway in windy three-to-five foot conditions at the iconic Supertubos in Peniche — completing the opening round of the competition.
The event could potentially see a World Champion crowned, with just seven surfers remaining in contention to claim the trophy, but only Gabriel Medina has a chance to claim it in Portugal.
11-time ASP World Champ, Kelly Slater, took on Matt Wilkinson and event wildcard, Nic Von Ropp, in the highly anticipated heat five. Wilkinson found a deep barrel early, claiming a 9.57.
With the pressure of the world title race on Slater wasted no time; he scoured the lineup and eventually scored his own radical late-drop barrel — logging an even higher 9.67 and taking the heat win.
Slater advances directly to round three after scoring the highest two wave heat total of the day, a 17.00.
“It’s always tough in conditions like this and even more so when a guy starts out with almost a 10-point score,” said Slater. “I just wanted to get myself going, get some waves and start feeling the flow. Gabriel is a real competitor. He wants to win the title more than anyone, and at his age I was the same exact way. You can see that he loves to surf, he loves to get better and improve what he is already doing and he’s got crazy skills.”
He kept up his momentum and followed his opening by launching into a huge aerial rotation and landing right on the waves critical point[/pullquote]
Jordy Smith was also on top form today, opening his account with a solid 7.33 for a succession of powerful gauges on his forehand, allowing him to take the lead over Mitch Crews and Adrian Buchan. He kept up his momentum and followed his opening by launching into a huge aerial rotation and landing right on the waves critical point, collecting a 9.27 to take the win.
“I had a good start, it’s pretty tricky out there, so you need to make sure you fit your turns in really sharp and quick,” said Smith. “The wave picked up at the back and gave me a lot of speed, so I thought I’d try to get a big turn in. I threw caution to the wind and ended up sticking it. It came out 9.20 so I was really pumped.”
The current leader in the rankings, Gabriel Medina, displayed the full array of his talents during his heat. Medina used his repertoire of barrels, turns, and aerial manoeuvres to take down defending event champion Kai Otton and wildcard Jacob Wilcox, securing himself a place in round three.
“It’s pretty difficult out there, you have to be in the right sport at the right time,” said Medina. “I got lucky in that one so I’m stoked that I made it through. The fans here are really passionate about surfing and the sport. I really like the support I’m getting, it doesn’t put more pressure on me, it’s motivating me and I feel good.”
Jadson Andre was first to claim victory in round one. Andre had the opportunity to get back at John John Florence after their clash in the Quiksilver Pro France Final. Fresh from a victory at the ASP Qualification Series Prime Event, the Cascais Billabong Pro, Andre used his momentum, finding some clean barrels, and scored big to take the win. “I’m really happy to find my way, to be surfing good and enjoying it,” said Andre. “It’s not easy out there and you have to be lucky to get the right waves. My game plan was to catch a lot of waves and I’m stoked I made the heat.”
The final heat of the day saw Owen Wright claim victory over Tiago Pires and former event finalist Nat Young. Wright and Pires went head-to-head for a couple of exchanges, with Pires taking the lead for the first half of the heat. But then Wright took things to the air and posted his first major score, a 7.33, before backing it up with an 8.33, for a series of tail slides, laybacks, and solid carves. “I felt great, the conditions are really tought but it felt great to be here again, I haven’t been in Peniche for two years,” Wright said. “It’s good to be back surfing in these waves, I love these conditions. Straight away Tiago started with a seven and I needed to catch him.”
Words Louis Hall @LHall69
Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal Round 1 Results (1st advances directly to Round 3, 2nd and 3rd to Round 2):
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.10, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 8.97, Travis Logie (ZAF) 7.37
Heat 2: Jadson Andre (BRA) 15.93, Brett Simpson (USA) 12.60, John John Florence (HAW) 11.10
Heat 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.83, C.J Hobgood (USA) 9.24, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 8.47
Heat 4: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 16.10, Mick Fanning (AUS) 10.66, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 4.83
Heat 5: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.00, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 16.07, Nic Von Rupp (PRT) 7.50
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.27, Kai Otton (AUS) 12.83, Jacob Willcox (AUS) 8.43
Heat 7: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.33, Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 8.73, Michel Bourez (PYF) 7.53
Heat 8: Adriano De Souza (BRA) 12.83, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 10.60, Julian Wilson (AUS) 9.56
Heat 9: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.60, Mitch Crews (AUS) 12.83, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 7.60
Heat 10: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 10.60, Adam Melling (AUS) 10.50, Kolohe Andino (USA) 7.37
Heat 11: Josh Kerr (AUS) 15.13, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.00, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 10.60
Heat 12: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.16, Tiago Pires (PRT) 12.93, Nat Young (USA) 10.27
Upcoming Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal Round 2 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Nic Von Rupp (PRT)
Heat 3: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 4: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 5: Nat Young (USA) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 6: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 7: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Aritz Aranburu (ESP)
Heat 8: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 9: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. Mitch Crews (AUS)
Heat 10: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 11: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Dion Atkinson (AUS)
Heat 12: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)