Before Guincho found fame as a back-up venue for QS 10,000s, it was where James Bond once saved a woman from drowning herself in the shore break, only to see the troubled temptress steal his Aston Martin DBS and head off in the direction of the Cascais' salubrious 5-star hotels along the Estoril seafront.
En route she would have passed fairly close by the as-yet-unborn Frederico "Kikas" Morais' house. And while Kikas is a couple of decades too young to remember 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, set in his native Cascais, today on those very same sands, he nevertheless understood the need for heroes who always seem to come out on top. The event's (literal) poster boy put on an impressive showing at his hometown event Wednesday in Round Two, nailing the combined high score (8.83) and the second-highest heat total (.16 of a point behind Mateus Herdy's 16.16 points), all done with 007-style panache.
Home-field advantage, though, can be a funny thing in surfing. Familiarity and in-depth knowledge may come into play in tricky reefs or points where myriad lineups, swell directions and wave-selection decisions baffle the uninitiated. But in random, chaotic onshore beachbreaks, not so much. And being the hometown hero can just mean a heap of added pressure, a bunch of extra media commitments, even just flesh-press fatigue. Nevertheless, the 25-year-old, ranked No. 11 on the Championship Tour (and sitting a mere 50 points shy of Connor O'Leary's points total in their battle to be named Rookie of the Year) appeared to be suffering from no such woes, laying down an impressive showing in his first appearance at a hometown event as card-carrying member of the Top 34.
As if to show that biting onshores, raucous tidal swings and patchy swells don't have exclusive rights as spanners in the works, a fog bank brought proceedings to an abrupt halt shortly after Morais' heat. Deputy Commissioner Travis Logie's brow wasn't furrowed for long, though, as a combination of sun and wind burned through to restore visibility, revealing the genesis of a particularly nasty inside section on the dropping tide.
The only navigable approach appeared to be arriving with speed, projecting down and out of harm's way.
Defending event champ Jesse Mendes, flying high in No.1 spot on the QS with an unassailable points total, oozed confidence in his approach to the inside minefield with on-point timing, aggression and control over the tail to recover. The Brazilian's dues have been well and truly paid with qualification near-misses in the past, as reflected in a philosophical post- heat powwow with WSL commentator Rosy Hodge
"I've been surfing well [in previous years] but have been really inconsistent," he said. "Now I'm ready for the challenge. There's so much water moving out there, but there's also so much opportunity."
Mendes and Morais, however, weren't the day's only standouts. Sixteen-year-old Mateus Herdy, nephew of former World Tour ripper Guilherme Herdy, stole the show, surfing in his first-ever QS 10,000. His ability to soar over dumping sections and find speed across flabby gutters are precisely the x-factor needed to outshine battle-hardened QS surfers in Guincho's testing conditions. If he can continue to surf without nerves, he threatens to pull down the pants of many high seeds.
"The heavy thing is, this is pretty much the only waves we've had all year," Parker Coffin declared of the late afternoon's crossed-up fare. He was referring to the gaping chasm in quality of the waves in which QS surfers grind their way toward qualification, compared to the waves surfed on the elite CT.
The undeniable quality of waves on the Championship Tour -- along with a suite of other spoils -- is just one of the reasons some of today's other Round Two advancers -- CT rookies Leonardo Fioravanti, Ethan Ewing and Ezekiel Lau -- will be hoping their continued participation here can help toward securing more laps on the CT than that of actor George Lazenby in Bond films. The latter managed to play 007 just once -- in those fateful Cascais scenes nearly 50 years ago -- before giving way to the next one in line.