- WSL / Laurent Masurel
- WSL / Laurent Masurel

Across three events in two counties over four weeks a total of 117 CT heats were surfed in Europe. All mattered, but some mattered more than most. Here are six that due to their World Title implications, pure performance, trend spotting or emotional resonance deserve another look.

Italo and Gabriel's Airshow

Italo Ferreira (BRA) advances to the Semifinals of the 2018 MEO Rip Curl Pro after winning Quarterfinal Heat 1 in Peniche, Portugal. Italo Ferreira - WSL / Damien Poullenot

"It's going to be an airshow," predicted Gabriel Medina, correctly, before his Semifinal matchup with Italo Ferreira in the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal. For Medina this was his most important half hour of 2018. With Julian Wilson losing in his Quarterfinal, the Brazilian was two heats away from a World Title.

Watch the full or condensed heat here.

Yet in what proved a straight battle between who could land the biggest and most technical forehand airs, it was Ferreira who came out on top. He'd won the airshow and taken the Title to Hawaii.

Lakey Misses Golden Opportunity

Lakey Peterson (USA) has lost on Round 3 Heat 3 Lakey Peterson (USA) - WSL / Laurent Masurel

When the hooter sounded for Lakey Peterson's Round 3 heat in the Roxy Pro France, an unexpected new realm of opportunity had just opened up for the World No. 2. In the dying seconds of the previous heat Steph Gilmore had failed by just 0.05 a point to move out of third place and so had been dumped out of the event.

Watch the full or condensed heat here.

Peterson now had the opportunity to eat into Gilmore's lead and make a big move for the World Title. However the Californian failed to grasp the incredible fortune she had been given with a third place finish leaving her World Title hopes hanging by the most slender of threads. "The chips had fallen into place," Peterson said afterwards, "but I let too many things get into my head."

Wildcard Callinan Outperforms Toledo

Heat Spotlight: Filipe Toledo vs. Ryan Callinan
Current Jeep Leader Filipe Toledo is eliminated by injury replacement Ryan Callinan- closing the gap on the Title race in France.

Wildcards have a long history of playing a huge role in World Titles. As the lowest seed they come up against the World Title contenders in early Rounds. The diametrically opposed dynamic, no matter the personnel, remains the same. In France Ryan Callinan had nothing to lose and everything to gain. For Filipe Toledo it was the opposite. Yet there Round 3 didn't heat didn't just stand out for what was at stake, but for the level of performance as well. Callinan showed the form that would take him to the Final, but Toledo responded with his own brand of hyperspeed surfing. Callinan had just thrown a huge spanner in the World Title Race.

Wilson and Medina Nudge The Sport

Perfect 10: Julian Wilson in France
The current World No. 3 stomps it for a perfect 10, eliminating World No.1 Gabriel Medina in the Semifinals of the Quik Pro.

It might seem harsh to include two of Medina's heat losses in this list, rather than the eight times he won in Europe, but his clash with Julian Wilson in France was a signifier of where surfing is headed. The WSL's new Head Judge Pritamo Ahrendt had come in 2018 determined to reward risk and progression.

Watch the full or condensed heat here.

In this Semi both Julian and Gabriel had clearly read the memo and nudged the bar. It took a perfect and inverted 10 for Wilson to dispatch Medina and go onto win both the heat and event. The World Title implications were huge, but on a wider scale all the other CT surfers also now knew what it takes to get excellent scores.

Courtney And Carissa Fill The Vacuum

Courtney Conlogue (USA) advances to the Final of the 2018 Roxy Pro France after winning Semifinal Heat 1 in Hossegor, France. Courtney Conlogue - WSL / Damien Poullenot

Carissa Moore and Courtney Conlogue were always the best qualified to fill the World Title vacuum provided by the early exits of Gilmore and Peterson. They had shared wins in the last two CT events and each had their own personal missions.

Watch the full or condensed heat here.

Moore was reclaiming her relevance after a horror start to the year. Conlogue was coming back from injury and fighting for a CT place in 2019. The result of this unmovable object meeting an irresistible force was the best level of women's performance surfing seen in Europe this year. Conlogue just shaded the Semifinal however and from that point it was inevitable she would go onto win the event

Parko's Au Revoir

Joel Parkinson (AUS) and his daughter during Round 3 of Quiksilver and Roxy Pro France 2018 Joel Parkinson being interviewed by his daughter Evie after his last heat in France. - WSL / Damien Poullenot

Joel Parkinson's heat against Mikey Wright was light on World Title implications and QS cutoff drama, but sure packed some emotional heft. Having ruled himself out of Portugal a loss would mean this is was the last time the 2012 World Champion would surf a competitive heat in Europe.

Watch the full or condensed heat here.

Parkinson had last won here in 2006, but having travelled to the Continent for over 20 years, first as up-and-coming superstar and later as established legend with his family, he'd had made an emotional connection with the area and its people that few surfers could ever match. Wright did however proved too good and Parko was left to say a competitive goodbye. "I made a few rookie mistakes," he said afterwards, with the humor that has made him so popular. "But I am emotional, this place has been so good to me. I've made memories for life here and they are etched deep."

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