Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal

Heavy Waves, Medina's Title Chances: What You Missed from Portugal

Anna Dimond

Highlights: Elite Battle in Blustery Portugal
The Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal surged onward through four heats of competition in tricky conditions.

Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal Event Site
Heats On Demand: Heat Analyzer | Score-by-Score Recap Videos
Recap: Round 1 | Round 2, Heats 1-7 | Round 3, Heats 1-12 & Round 4, Heats 1-2
Complete Results

A storm squall socked in the [Peniche peninsula]( Tuesday morning, bringing heavy rain, strong wind and solid waves with it. After an initial hold, the Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal got going at a backup site just north of Supertubos. If you slept through it all, here are two things you missed - plus the latest on Gabriel Medina's (BRA) potential role in the World Title race:

1. A Rookie Defeated Gabriel Medina (But Medina Gets Another Chance)

Ferreira Matches Power for 9.00
The Brazilian rookie hacked up a powerful wave at the Moche Rip Curl Pro's backup site to take the lead from Medina.

Before the contest in Portugal began, Italo Ferreira (BRA) was already the standout rookie on the Championship Tour (CT) this year. Ranked World No. 8, he has cracked the upper echelon of the Jeep Leaderboard already, a feat that has eluded many of the world's best surfers.

In Round 4 Tuesday, he proved yet again that he can take down the best of them, including Medina -- the reigning World Champion, and his country's biggest star. Amid windswept, head-high waves Ferreira matched the power of the ocean with powerful turns and managed to stay on his board for a 9.00. The score put him in the lead over Medina and carried him to a win. Medina will surf again in Round 5, Heat 4, while the rookie skips right to the Quarterfinals.

"I'm super stoked to make this heat and with good scores," Ferreira said afterward. "I changed my board today because the waves are bigger and I needed more drive. I'm feeling so good right now, and I'll focus on the next heat, it's great to be in the Quarters."

2. Brett Simpson Has Made It to the Quarterfinals

Simpson vs. Young
Californians Nat Young and Brett Simpson go wave for wave for the advance to the Quarterfinals in the Round 5 heat recap.

It's been a lackluster year for Brett Simpson (USA), who's slipped to World No. 34, well below the job-security cutoff point of No. 22. But so far in Portugal, something's kicked in for the upbeat, California surfer. Maybe it's having his family here, or maybe it's having nothing to lose. But since he defeated Kelly Slater (USA) in Round 3, things are looking up for Simpo. In Round 5, Heat 2, he defeated fellow American surfer Nat Young (USA) who, at No. 10 on the rankings, is assured a spot on the CT in 2016.

Still, Simpson has a behemoth heat ahead of him before he can celebrate: In Quarterfinal 2 he'll face Portuguese replacement surfer Frederico Morais (PRT). Morais, in case you forgot, is the imposing surfer from nearby Cascais who took down Mick Fanning (AUS) back in Round 3. Morais won again in Round 4, handling the unpredictable beackbreak with a mix of local knowledge, powerful surfing and serious skill. Simpo could out-maneuver Morais with creative airs, but so far at the Moche Rip Curl Pro, no one has demonstrated the same expert-level wave selection as the local hero.

A Word About Medina and the World Title Race

All this talk about Medina potentially moving into World No. 1 takes into account the [WSL rule]( in which surfers drop their two lowest results from their year-end points tally. Think of it as a so-called get-out-of-jail-free card, or a way to acknowledge that everyone has bad days.

Here's the latest:
If Medina Wins the Moche Rip Curl Portugal he will overtake Fanning as World No. 1, and will go into the last event of the season as the new Jeep Leader, complete with the yellow jersey and the best shot of winning the Title.

If Medina finishes runner-up in Portugal, he will be behind Mick and Adriano going into Pipe.

If Filipe Toledo (BRA) wins the event in Portugal he will be still behind Fanning in the Rankings, but another serious title contender.

Stay tuned to see how the contest plays out, and what the Title race will look like heading into the Billabong Pipe Masters, the men's final CT contest of the year. Watch starting at 7:00 a.m. local time through October 31 on the WSL website and WSL App.