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Brazil's Fresh Faces Are Ready to Break Out at Vans World Cup

Brazilians know as well as anyone that there are no shortcuts to the Championship Tour. Heading into the final Qualifying Series event of the season, Ian Gouveia, Bino Lopes and Jesse Mendes are looking to join the Brazilian Storm on the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour in 2017. As of now, none of them are safely on the elite roster, but the ball is in their court. They will have to fight for their dreams at the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset beach, the next contest in the Triple Crown.

Jesse Mendes placed second in Heat 14 of Round Two at the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, Hawaii today. Jesse Mendes is one of three Brazilians knocking on the Championship Tour door. WSL / Kelly Cestari

Here's where they stand and what they need in order to finalize their places:

Ian Gouveia

Ian Gouveia (BRA)  Placed 1st in Quarters 3 at Billabong Pro Cascais 16 Despite his solid No. 7 QS rank, Gouveia can't risk another early defeat at Sunset. WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

While Gouveia holds the highest QS standing of the three, his No. 7 rank still doesn't guarantee him a spot on the Championship Tour. The 24-year-old went on a serious late-season tear in Portugal, winning the Azores Airlines Pro (QS6000) and taking third in the points-rich Billabong Pro Cascais (QS10000). But Hawaii hasn't gone according to plan, and after his Round Three loss in the Hawaiian Pro, another early exit at Sunset may prove deadly. Generally surfers need about 18,000 points to qualify, and while Ian has hit that benchmark (18,400), there are still 10,000 more points at stake during the World Cup. He'll need to crack Round Four at Sunset to improve his total. A Quarterfinal finish would be ideal.

Bino Lopes

Bino Lopes was happy with his Round 1 win. After years of fighting for a spot on the CT, Bino will throw everything he has at the Sunset walls. WSL / Ed Sloane

After spending most of his adult life chasing waves on the QS, 28-year-old Lopes is finally in a position to stake his claim on the CT. Like Gouveia, he amassed most of his QS points this season from a third-place finish in the Billabong Pro Cascais, but has struggled to find his groove in Hawaii. Following a Round Three exit at Haleiwa, his No. 8 rank is far from secure at the Vans World Cup. He only needs a 33rd to help his cause, but the more ground he covers the better. Bino may be older than the Brazilian upstarts, but with a bit more meat on his bones and a wealth of competitive knowledge, he won't be afraid to throw his weight around at Sunset.

Jesse Mendes

Jesse Mendes winning the Final at the Billabong Pro Cascais. Mendes proved his ability to perform in elite QS events when he won the Billabong Pro Cascais (QS10000) in September. WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

Jesse is the perfect example of what can happen when things don't go your way in Hawaii. Heading into the Hawaiian Pro, he held the coveted No. 10 spot on the QS ranks. But after his early loss, and a slew of dark horse upsets, he dropped three spots to No. 13. While he's still in the hunt for a CT slot, he's also more than 3,000 points away from that golden 18,000-point benchmark. With another 10,000 points on the line at Sunset, he'll need at least a 9th place finish to stay in the conversation. Mendes has already been victorious once this year in a QS10000 event when he won the Billabong Pro Cascais. Now he just needs to apply that winning formula on a bigger canvas at Sunset.

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