The QS10,000 EDP Billabong Pro Ericeira continued to deliver upset after upset after upset, as the swell built to pump solid surf again down the Ribeira d'Ilhas point in Portugal.
The Australian crew continued to rack up heat wins and major points, with 7 surfers making their way into Round 5 and eliminating previous standouts without looking back. Cooper Chapman and Morgan Cibilic ended another successful run of Jake Marshall in the European leg, but the American will improve his overall tally with an equal 17th place in Ericeira.
"It's been an interesting year for me so it's nice to finally put an event together," Chapman said. "It feels like I'm gaining momentum every heat and waves are pumping. It's been super cool to hang out with my mate Wade (Carmichael) too, now he's on tour we don't get to travel together as much and maybe he can give me those little pointers on how to surf that top end of a big event."
While Chapman is a familiar face on the Qualifying Series and his return to form isn't a major surprise, Cibilic's rise through the ranks in the past few weeks has been phenomenal. The Angourie surfer who had never surfed a QS10,000 before this season, went back-to-back-to-back with improving results in Ballito, the US Open and culminating with a Semifinal in Pantin, as he now looks to potentially move into the Top 10 when the event wraps in Portugal.
"I haven't really had much luck on this Europe leg so I'm stoked to get through that heat," Willcox said. "I feel really comfortable out there, it's a lot like some of the stuff I get to surf at home and it's got a lot of similarities with Bells. There's a good Aussie push at the moment so it's nice to watch everyone make heats, I hope we can keep it going."
Ewing and Chapman met in Round 5 later today where an incredible battle of excellent scores went down, eventually going Ewing's way as the former Championship Tour surfer belted a spot in the Quarters.
The other all-Aussie battle between Willcox and Cibilic in Round 5 unfortunately was a slightly anticlimactic affair as the lineup went relatively slow. Willcox managed to get the upper hand and moved into the Quarters.
"I talked with my brother and decided to change boards for this heat," he explained. "The board I had this morning was perfect for the low tide kind of waves, and the tight pockets. This one is a 6'0 round pin shaped by my dad and it's perfect for longer waves with lots of space."
"That was a tough heat with the tide moving in so quick and the swell increasing," Kennedy said. "Now that we're down to the man-on-man heats you can pick the eyes out of it more and only worry about one other surfer. This European leg hasn't been great for me up until now and it's been a long five weeks away from the family but it feels worth it now with the money and points here before heading to Hawaii."
Patrick Gudauskas and Ian Crane enjoyed an all-American, two-surfer battle as World No. 24 Joan Duru unfortunately had to withdraw following a bad wipeout in the free surf yesterday. The Frenchman posted an update on social media explaining he preferred to head home to heal before the Quiksilver Pro France next week.
As many upsets as there were on Day 4 in Ericeira, one man who stayed away from the tragical fate of most CT and former CT athletes was local favorite Frederico Morais who managed to squeeze in second in his Round 4 bout behind Connor O'Leary.
Joshua Moniz and Alex Ribeiro fanced off one hungry Australian in Caleb Tancred to make their way into Round 5 and Yago Dora took out the last heat as he's the lone Championship Tour survivor in Ericeira. Adin Masencamp guaranteed himself a career-best result advancing in second behind Dora.
The day wrapped with McGillivray taking the last heat, and a spot into the Quarters, over Patrick Gudauskas. The South African further cements himself in the qualifying discussion with a guaranteed 5,200 points added to his season tally.
Surfers will be back at 8 a.m to resume Round 5 in Heat 4 in expected excellent conditions once again.
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