If you had to compare surfers for the sake of drawing parallels, three-time World Champion Mick Fanning and current CT rookie and World No. 18 Joan Duru wouldn't be an obvious pairing... you'd do well to get a slice of carbon fiber through the overlap on their Venn diagram.
But look past from their conspicuously differing stances, demeanors (Mick more outgoing, Joan a bit more introvert) and skills sets (Mick favors the forehand, stays on the face, whereas Joan has a deadly backhand and is more likely to flair above the lip), one crucial similarity could be the tendency to come into wicked good form mid-to-late season.
Much of Mick's Title run-invincibility heyday tended to come after the summer solstice, when he'd barely drop a heat through the back end of the year. Joan, in his rookie season on the Championship Tour, has seemed to turn around a potential shocker of a start with a timely back half purple patch. Finishing 25th in three out of the first four events, and 13th in the other, the Frenchman's only hope of salvation this season looked like the major Qualifying Series events such as the EDP Billabong Pro Cascais.
But a combination of respect-gaining performances paired with points-accruing results on the CT has seen him climb the Jeep Leaderboard ratings and arrive here in Portugal with confidence to burn.
Evidence of the Frenchman's fine fettle came in his Round Four win today, where an ultra-radical approach to heavier sections had all the hallmarks of Championship Tour go-for-broke pedigree. Nailing a below-sea-level dredger of an end section for a 8.93, the highest single-wave score of the event so far, Duru looked a cut above the field.
The three-man format of Round Four afforded slightly more opportunities in conditions which make up for in consistency from one day to the next what they lack in obvious quality.
Another surfer who managed to show just that in the turbulent waters of Guincho was Stuart Kennedy, whose sophomore season on the CT has been blighted by patchy form and injury niggles.
"I'm still enjoying everything, but just getting a bit frustrated not getting the result on Tour that I feel like I deserve," admitted the ever-candid Aussie. "I've had some troubles with my hips… but hopefully I've got 10 good years in me left before I have to get a hip operation," he continued with a chuckle.
If today's showing was anything to go by, the regularfoot point specialist has plenty of good years left in him yet, as he put in a commanding performance for a 14.83 heat total. Languishing in 32nd on the Jeep Leaderboard, though, and 63rd on the QS, Kennedy will need a whole lot more of the same to secure CT participation next year.
With just four heats of Round Four completed today after a midday hiatus to run the Cascais Women's Pro, having completed the remaining four heats of Round Three earlier in the morning, Deputy Commissioner Travis Logie will be hoping to pick the eyes out of potentially unruly, wind-affected conditions over the weekend to decide the big ratings movers and shakers in the season's last QS10,000 event before Hawaii.