Round Four for the Cascais Women's Pro opened to a shifting lineup and heightened tension among the remaining competitors. With Jeep Leaderboard frontrunners Tyler Wright and Courtney Conlogue waiting in the wings to play out their title battle, eight of the women faced off for spots in the Quarters.
The second heat of the round pitted American surfer Sage Erickson against Hawaiian Alessa Quizon. While Erickson had a game plan and stuck to it in her quarterfinal heat, her opponent was found lacking in the planning department. Sage paddled out to the lefts and found some great rides off the bat, while Alessa chose to sit further down the beach. Sage had five scoring waves before Alessa paddled over, and with Sage holding priority it was too little too late for Alessa.
"I was a bit confused when Alessa paddled out, because I still had priority" said Sage. "I just stuck to my plan and luckily that worked out in the heat. I'm just enjoying competition at the moment, and I want to beat people. I think I've honed in, and learned how to focus." Sage will go into a king-maker heat against Tyler Wright tomorrow, and should Tyler win that quarter-final then she will remain in the running for the 2016 World title.
Speaking of focus, Malia Manuel from Hawaii personified it in her quarterfinal clash against Sally Fitzgibbons. With a six nil winning streak in her favour, all eyes were on the 8th ranked Fitzgibbons, but it was the Hawaiian who blasted out of the gates and her first wave, and more importantly her radical last moves showed the judges that she was ready to throw it down. That forehand close-out hack was powerful and stylish, and she was awarded an 8.33. Sally was on the ropes from then on. Malia followed up with a smaller inside wave that she blasted with three solid turns for a decent back-up score but she followed it up with a much bigger wave, two massive moves with power and confidence and a gratifying 7-point score. Malia was hungry, and she was going as hard as she could out there, not holding back at all in her bid for a win of dominance. Sally fought back, but it was to absolutely no avail and she was comboed at the final siren.
It's not often that we see Sally in a combo situation, as she is a very talented surfer as well as a wily competitor, and if she doesn't win, it's usually by a very narrow margin. No disgrace to Sally however. She already has 2 seconds under the belt this year, with a runner-up result at Rip Curl Women's Pro at Bells Beach and a runner-up result at the Oi Rio Rio, as well as a win at the Taggart Women's Pro Women's Qualifying Series 6,000 event. She has been on a role, and is one of the fittest, most confident surfers on tour. Without wishing to detract from Malia and her powerful performance, Sally was having very much of an off day.
Malia's win will see her come up against Courtney Conlogue in the third quarterfinal that will most likely take place tomorrow. Should she beat Courtney, the world title will open up for Tyler on the other side of the draw. The title race is going down to the wire, and we could possibly crown a champion tomorrow.
Out of the title race, the final heat in this round put Hawaiian Coco Ho, who is 15th on the 2016 Women's Championship Tour Jeep Leaderboard up against Lakey Peterson (USA). The girls stuck to the lefts mainly, and Peterson has been winning heats all event so far with her powerful bottom-turn to off-the-top combinations. She couldn't string them together in this heat unfortunately, and Coco sneaked past, in what was a fairly low-scoring heat.