The Allianz Billabong Pro Cascais launched in clean 2-to-3-foot surf at the pristine Praia do Guincho, a backup location for the event, and completed 28 heats using double banks to capitalize on the swell on offer. Exciting matchups revealed the form surfers of the moment who dropped huge scores in the peaky lefts and rights of Guincho.
Kolohe Andino (USA), 21, opened his Cascais campaign with an impressive performance in the first round, belting a 17.67 heat total that included a 9.67 for a beautiful lefthander on the northern bank. The current World No. 29, now sits in fourth position on the QS ranks following his excellent 5th-place finish in Azores and will look to post another solid result to defend his position and requalification for the 2016 Championship Tour (CT).
"I felt like I was pretty lucky," Andino explained. "I had my mind set on one spot out there and the tide dropped really quickly and suddenly it was closing out the back on that left bank I thought I was going to be on. I was a little confused on where to sit but luckily I got a couple of good scores and made it through."
Andino kept his momentum going into the second round of competition on a much higher tide and adapted his approach to put another ride in the nine-point range in his scoreline in the opening minutes of the exchange.
Dusty Payne (HAW), 26, came out on top of a Hawaii vs. Japan battle, advancing alongside compatriot Granger Larsen, in the opening round. Payne managed to score big in the small surf and collected the day's third-highest single-ride score -- a 9.17 -- for his backside power-surfing on the opposite southern bank.
"I wasn't getting it done on the smaller ones, and I knew I needed to wait for something that would actually push me and I got the right wave," Payne stated. "It offered two good sections and I was pretty happy I didn't expect to get two turns on that wave. I've got a good small-wave board that works great in these tough conditions."
Kanoa Igarashi (USA), 17, the youngest surfer in this event and current No. 6 on the QS, eyeing a potential qualification for the elite Tour in 2016, surfed the best wave of the entire day for a near-perfect 9.87 and will compete in the second round when the event resumes. A complete package, Igarashi started with a couple of solid hacks and carving maneuvers on the outside before boosting a little reverse in the shorebreak section of the wave.
"I just made sure I got the waves that I needed," Igarashi commented. "I wanted to surf it solid and not do anything crazy and stupid. It came together nicely with the 9.87."
Of his CT prospects, Igarashi said, "It wasn't my goal at the beginning of the year. Now it is for sure."
Local hero and reigning Junior World Champion Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) made his way into the third round of competition and pleased the crowds with his signature power surfing in the clean peaks of Guincho.
"This is where I surf every single day and today was a hard day to compete out there," Ribeiro said. "My plan was to catch the first wave and try to stay busy in the inside and it went my way. I have some good memories of competing in Portugal and especially the World Juniors last year but this is a totally different event so I'll just try to stay focused and do my best to put on a show here and have fun."
With a solid heat win early in the day, Soli Bailey (AUS) managed to advance alongside World No. 21 Miguel Pupo (BRA) in the second round and will look to continue his excellent campaign at Guincho in Round 3.
"It's good to get a win and a couple of heats out of the way," Bailey admitted. "It's hard to find the perfect little spot out there, and when there's a little corner you can have three or four guys contesting for the spot."
Event wildcard Tomas Fernandes (PRT), 19, posted a convincing win in Round 1, eliminating the defending event champion Jadson Andre (BRA) in the process. Unfortunately, Fernandes couldn't keep the ball rolling and in a slow second round heat he was forced down to fourth.
"Conditions were difficult and I was lucky enough to get two good waves this morning," Fernandes said. "I'm from Ericeira but I used to train here every single day, so even though I don't know the wave perfectly I was still feeling very comfortable out there."
Surfers and event officials will reconvene on Thursday at 7:30 a.m. local time to reassess conditions for a potential restart of the round of 48.
First in the water when the event resumes will be Dusty Payne (HAW), Steven Pierson (PYF), Jesse Mendes (BRA) and Aritz Aranburu (ESP).