If Round One of Championship Tour events are filled with hope and possibility, Round Two is where the neoprene meets the road. And for Stephanie Gilmore, who arrived here at the Cascais Women's Pro ranked World No. 4, the rubber hit hard this morning at Praia do Guincho, at the hands of South African Bianca Buitendag. While Gilmore still had some ground to make up in order to grab the trophy, after her Round Two loss today the chasm between her clutches and the shiny cup grew a bit wider. There are just two more events left in the season, which will put some pressure on her runs in France and Maui.
For Bianca Buitendag, though, the win over her Roxy teammate (who also shares a coach with her, in Mathias Maallem) was a nice boost. The South African goofyfooter fell off the Tour at the end of 2017, and has been making appearances throughout the year as an injury replacement surfer. If she can do well here in the same guise, it would improve her shot at being the first pick among CT surfers to step up when injury duty calls. While Gilmore now has a week or so to savor Portugal and regroup, Buitendag will go on to face Malia Manuel in another elimination round.