Californian Griffin Colapinto arrived in Portugal for the EDP Billabong Pro Cascais ranked No. 10 on the Qualifying Series leaderboard, a precarious position despite its lofty appearance. Number 10 on the QS ratings list exists on the preverbial bubble, the traditional cut-off spot for Championship Tour qualification. But with two QS 10,000s still remaining on the 2017 QS Tour calendar -- both in Hawaii -- the position in relation to qualification is tenuous at best.
The teenager from San Clemente needed a result in Cascais, a good result. Not to mention he was running out of time to reach a personal goal set early in the year.
But in Round Five, surfing against QS No. 1 Jesse Mendes, Colapinto made a breakthrough against the runaway ratings leader, posting the highest single wave score of the entire event -- a 9.50 -- and a berth in the Quarterfinals."There was a lot of pressure running on that heat, and the whole event," said Colapinto after taking out the Brazilian. "My goal this year has been to win a QS event."
Along the way he found a unique way to relieve the pressure -- driving lessons from his Italian buddy, World No. 30 Leonardo Fioravanti. If you're going to learn how to drive a stick shift, it might as well be from a guy raised in Italy, the land of Ferraris and Lamborghinis. "Yeah it's always good to have things to keep my mind off the pressure," he quipped, adding that pulling into the car park at Guincho held its own unique stress test.
Unfortunately for Colapinto, his roll was ended in Cascais when he narrowly lost out to Ezekiel Lau in their Quarterfinal clash later in the day, but with his 5th place finish he drops his worst result to date -- a 7th at the Vans Pro -- and adds 4,000 points to his total heading into the final two QS 10,000s in Hawaii.
He'll move up the QS rankings after Portugal, solidify his position well inside the top 10 and land on the North Shore with a better than average chance at making the CT in 2018.