NewsEDP Billabong Pro CascaisLeonardo Fioravanti

Carmichael Swings the Axe; Euro Stars Stay Sharp

1992 was an important year for both surfing and the English language, a year when a movie called Groundhog Day hit cinemas worldwide. Modest critical acclaim ensued, but its real gift was to surf lexicon, the film's title giving rise to a popular expression, one that so often accompanies morning coffee during event waiting periods.

Prior to which, presumably, we were burdened with the more cumbersome, "Looks a lot like yesterday, and the day before, again."

Let's all take a moment to acknowledge just how fortunate we are to live in a post-Punxsutawney Phil era.

So as a brisk north northwest onshore wind ruffled a bumbling, crossed-up, head-high swell by the time the EDP Billabong Pro Cascais's heats got underway at Praia do Guincho today, at least nobody was at too much of a loss as to what to call it.

Wade Carmichael (AUS) Wade Carmichael: looks like a lumberjack, surfs like a demon. WSL / WSL/POULLENOT

That very same year as Groundhog Day, Wade Carmichael came into the world, presumably somewhat fresher-faced than his current guise. Today at Guincho, he gate-crashed the party like Groundhog Day's lead Bill Murray famously loves to in real life, smashing out a whopping 16.60 -point heat total (the day's highest) like a non-invitee who'd snuck his way to the kitchen and was quaffing down the punchbowl's fruity, intoxicating rewards post-haste before the hostess noticed.

Wade Carmichael (AUS) Placed 1st in Heat 4 of Round One at EDP BILLABONG PRO CASCAIS 2017 in Cascais, Portugal Carmichael swings his axe. WSL / WSL/POULLENOT

The Central Coast, NSW regularfooter might look like a burly frontiersman from a bygone era, a ruffian who wouldn't look out of place knife-fighting bears while fur trapping the Yukon. But he revealed a deft touch today in tricky (read: pretty bad) conditions, combining axe-swinging heft with precision. His sensitive side was laid bare in the QS6,000 in the Azores at the start of the month, too. In a losing, Semifinal post-heat interview he revealed the emotional investment he's been putting forward in search of realizing a Championship Tour dream.

Frederico Morais (PRT) placed 1st in Heat 13 of round Two in EDP Billabong Pro Cascais 2017 Frederico Morais has Portuguese surf fans forgetting about soccer star Ronaldo, for the moment at least. WSL / WSL/POULLENOT

Elsewhere, Frederico Morais drew up upon what soccer fans call the "12th man" -- in reference to the crowd support giving the home side the advantage in the normally 11 vs. 11 proceedings (the Portuguese football squad also happens to be the current European Champion). The assembled Cascais coterie seemingly willed him a wave at the death of a heat he'd looked not overly convincing in, nailing a 7.80 to jump in to the lead and keep Portugal's collective disposition as sunny as its fall weather.

"All I want to do is see a smile on their faces," Kikas explained of the kids to whom he's passing on the sport, giving surf lessons as an extra-curricular activity to blowing up the World Tour.

Joan Duru (FRA) Frenchman Joan Duru was one of a number of European surfers to exploit his continental knowledge on Day 3 in Cascais. WSL / WSL/POULLENOT

A knowledgeable local surfing crowd didn't reserve their vocal support solely for Cascais' finest, though, a sentiment underlined by winner of the day's final heat, fellow Euro CT rookie Leonardo Fioravanti. "Europe for me, whether it's Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, it's home, I grew up surfing these beaches," he said. "I saw an Italian flag flying on the beach today and the Portuguese are cheering me on too, it's a really cool vibe down here."

With a slight dip in swell under similar conditions forecast for tomorrow, and a significant bump on hand for the weekend accompanied by even stronger winds, the pointy end of proceedings promises high stakes and even higher rewards for those able to separate the wheat from the chaff.

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