PRAIA DE RIBEIRA D’ILHAS, Ericeira / Portugal (Wednesday, September 25, 2018) – The QS10,000 EDP Billabong Pro Ericeira resumed in solid six foot plus surf at the famed righthand point break of Ribeira d’Ilhas and completed ??? heats of Round 2 on the second day of competition.
Whether pure luck or ocean knowledge, the difference was made by surfers who found vertical sections in the lineup. The swell pushed overnight and well overhead sets washed through, offering a pretty flat shoulder whereas some of the insiders opened up perfectly with big sections to hit.
Peru’s Lucca Mesinas (PER) was the first surfer to really capitalize on those maybe shorter waves but with a steeper face. And things didn’t get better for Elite Top 34 members as Mesinas started by eliminating Rookie of the Year contender Deivid Silva (BRA) in the opening heat today.
Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) and Samuel Pupo (BRA) teamed up in the following heat to eliminate Ezekiel Lau (HAW) and Caio Ibelli (BRA), two CT athletes with a decent track record on big open rights.
“It’s picked up so much it’s bombing out there and I was stoked to get a couple,” McGillivray said. “It’s tricky to find the right ones but when you do it’s pretty sick. I was trying to find waves that had a lip and bowled up cause there are a lot that are just flat and hard to score on. I had an up-and-down year before Europe but my result in Pantin gave me a lot of confidence and I hope I can grab a few more points down here.”
Ian Crane (USA) showed goofy foots can do the job as well, as he lit up the rights of Ribeira d’Ilhas to eliminate Jesse Mendes (BRA) from competition in Round 2.
“From here all you can see is whitewater but in the lineup it makes more sense, it’s actually really fun out there,” Crane said. “Every wave looks the same when you’re taking off but you can get one that just lines up more and I’m happy I surfed a couple well.”
World No. 5 Italo Ferreira (BRA) was the first Championship Tour surfer to survive the treacherous matchups of Round 2 although he had to settle for second place behind former World Junior Champion Lucas Silveira (BRA).
A relatively unknown surfer from Australia posted the day’s upset in eliminating World No. 6 Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) in the following heat. Chris Zaffis (AUS) chose a completely different strategy from most surfers, distancing himself from the lengthy rides to select big closeouts. He managed to fit two big turns on each of his best scoring rides and posted an incredible 16.00 point total, the highest of the entire event so far.
“I just waited for the biggest waves and tried to hit it a couple times and I’m stoked it paid off,” Zaffis said. “I’m from Angourie so I enjoy a good righthand point break for sure, and I felt very comfortable out there. I’m riding a step-up, a 6’1 Dylan Longbottom surfboard, he’s definitely got experience in bigger waves and that board worked really really well.”
The whole Ericeira area lit up around 12 o’clock when the Portuguese superstar Frederico Morais (PRT) made his way to the lineup. Soccer match-like chants actually covered PA announcements as local fans supported their favorite surfer in the event. ‘Kikas’ delivered with a first wave caught well up the point for a 7.67 and the lead early on.
“It was a really good start for him,” confirmed Richard ‘Dog’ Marsh, his coach. “He really wanted to sit a bit further out the point than everyone else had been, he felt like his local knowledge was going to get him in the spot. That was his risk, I gave him 10 minutes to pull a 7+ off and he got it in the first 3 minutes so I’m stoked.”
The powerful regular foot quickly backed that score up and continued to build to eventually take out his first heat in Ericeira with a solid 14.47 combined total to advance into Round 3.
“It’s going to be a really tough comp everyone is surfing really well,” Morais said. “The ultimate goal is always to win, especially here but any big points will go a long way in my re-qualification and to be solid for the next three events. Either way I’m just super happy to be here competing at home with the support of the Portuguese crowds.”
Everything paled in comparison excitement-wise after that but big scores kept dropping all afternoon as waves fired down the Ribeira d’Ilhas point. Sheldon Simkus (AUS), Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) and Imaikalani Devault (HAW) all posted excellent numbers, but while the first two advanced with their 8+ scores on the board, the Hawaiian could never back up his incredible 9.40 and was eliminated in third place behind De Vries and World No. 22 Yago Dora (BRA) who mounted a last moment comeback.
Evan Geiselman (USA) went all out in the lip of a meaty set wave to post the second 9 point ride after Devault’s but the story turned out happier for the Floridian who advanced through Heat 19. In his heat, it was QS No. 4 Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) who took the win with an incredible 16.80 total, overtaking Simkus for the highest of the event after Day 2.
Surfers and event officials will be back at 8 a.m Thursday morning to re-assess conditions and decide of the third day’s schedule of competition.