Samuel Pupo has just won the 2019 EDP Billabong Pro Ericeira. With high contestable, three- to four-foot conditions at Ribeira D'Ilhas, the rising Brazilian star took out Aussie veteran Stu Kennedy for the biggest win of his young career and 10,000 QS points.
As the tide pushed in and the wind sat down, Pupo and Kennedy both started the Final with a 6-point scores to get things started. From there Pupo was off to the races, tallying a 8.50 and 8.07 in quick succession. This left Kennedy on the search for a near-perfect score to get back in the game. The Australian journeyman tried his best with the cards he was dealt, but was unable to find the scores he needed to overtake the Brasilian upstart.
"It's been an amazing week here at this contest," he said. "We got all types of conditions and I'm just so glad to get my first win on the QS. I'm super happy to be here with my brother and all my friends who have been helping me, it's been incredible their support through every single heat. Stu is an amazing surfer and I never counted him out, even with three minutes left I knew he was capable of getting that score."
Younger brother of Miguel Pupo, for Sammy, the result vaults him 30 spots up the QS leader board into 9th. He put together a string of great results through Europe, including back-to-back 9th place finishes in Pantin and Azores, as well as his big victory in Ericeira. The 19-year-old came to Galicia as an alternate and turned his season around with brilliant, inspired surfing.
"It's just crazy how things go in surfing," he continued. "I don't even want to think about the qualification, I still have so many things to figure out before I get to Hawaii. I really just want to go home and see my family now, get some rest and get back to work. I've been stressing less and enjoying myself a lot more in the water and I think that was key."
After two seasons on the Championship Tour, Stu Kennedy fell off after 2017 and has been trying to put together a big qualifying campaign ever since. The runner-up finish in Portugal and the 8,000 points he was awarded could turn his year around as he jumps 35 spots to15th place on the QS rankings.
"I can't give up now if I'm making Finals!" Kennedy said. "Hopefully, I can get back on the Tour and make some damage up there. I'd love to make the Tour with Connor O'Leary because I've put a lot of focus into helping him and it'd be great to share this with him. The Brasilians have overtaken the world with all their event wins and we're just trying to keep up."
In a battle of youth, Jacob Willcox came up just short in the opening Semifinal against Pupo, despite having his chances in the lineup. The talented goofy-footer from Western Australia was in a great groove on the long, open walls of Ribeira d'Ilhas and combined big vertical hits on his backhand on his best wave. Narrowly missing the last section of the wave, he was awarded an 8.00 - begging the question, could it have been the score if he landed that last big turn?
Either way, Willcox will leave Portugal with a career-best result and 6,500 more QS points, moving him all the way up to 23rd on the QS.
"It's a great way to end up my European leg for sure," Willcox said. "It hurts a little bit, I can't stop thinking what if I didn't fall on that turn, and if on my 5.80, I did another good snap instead of that floater I might have been close to the win. But congrats to Sammy he's been surfing great. It's been a really fun event and I'll take a lot of positive out of it and towards Hawaii."
In the second Semifinal, current World No. 22 Yago Dora finally succumbed to the CT curse as Kennedy knocked him out of the comp. In total, 17 Championship Tour surfers fell out of the draw in Ericeira.
After a huge win at the Vans US Open of Surfing and a runner-up at the Oi Hang Loose Pro Contest earlier this year, Dora added a third major result to his 2019 QS campaign and has taken a massive leap towards defending his spot on the Championship Tour for 2020, sitting second on the QS after Ericeira.
"My goal was to re-qualify for the CT next year and I believe I did that, so yeah, I'm super happy," Dora said. "It hurts to be that close and not make the Final, but Stu has been surfing so good he deserves to be in that Final. Yesterday I honestly thought I'd lost the heat with 30 seconds remaining and that's another lesson for me to just never give up and have faith."
In between the Semis and Final, the "You and the Sea Heritage Heat" brought back two legends of the sport as Taj Burrow and Tiago Pires got to rekindle the fire. Both surfers put on an amazing show, showing they clearly haven't lost a step as they ripped apart the perfect point surf. Burrow's progressive turns came up stronger than Pires' experience in his home lineup and eventually the Australian took out the heat.
With the completion of the EDP Billabong Pro Ericeira, the global Qualifying Series rankings have been drastically altered, here's the new current Top 10:
Men's Qualifying Series Top 10:
1 - Jadson Andre
2 - Yago Dora
3 - Alex Ribeiro
4 - Miguel Pupo
5 - Jake Marshall
6 - Frederico Morais
7 - Jorgann Couzinet
8 - Connor O'Leary
9 - Samuel Pupo
10 - Deivid Silva
There are only two more QS 10,000 events on the schedule. The next one will be the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, Hawaii, from November 13-24, 2019.
Catch it up with all the results, photos, videos and updates from Ericeira right here!