Let there be surf! The WSL is hosting a string of unique, pre-season exhibition events featuring Championship Tour surfers in the USA, Australia, Brazil, France, and Portugal called The WSL Countdown.
The Euro Cup Of Surfing -- the banner under which the France and Portugal events fall under -- got off to a brilliant start with command performances by World Champ Italo Ferreira and European Jeep Leader Johanne Defay at the French Rendez-Vous of Surfing.
And with a solid forecast on the horizon all eyes now turn to the MEO Portugal Cup of Surfing.
How To Watch
When the event gets called on, the MEO Portugal Cup of Surfing will be webcast LIVE on worldsurfleague.com, the WSL app, and the WSL YouTube page. Official broadcaster Fuel TV will show the event LIVE as well.
The waiting period runs from Sept. 28 through Oct. 2 and will run according to a mobile event format. This means the WSL Tours and Competition office will be looking at Portugal's wealth of surf riches, the ultimate event location will be a game-time decision depending on what the Atlantic Ocean is serving up.
Current options include Supertubos in Peniche and Ribeira d'Ilhas in Ericeira, but with a ton of swell in the forecast, contest organizers will be keeping their options open. Wherever it's best, it's going to be on.
With Italo leading the charge, and a crew of the world's best surfers hungry to pull the jersey on again, this installment of the WSL Countdown series could be one for the books.
Can Anyone Stop Italo?
After going undefeated in his last three starts, Italo Ferreira will continue to wear the Jeep Leader's Jersey in Portugal and it doesn't look like anybody is going to take it from him anytime soon. Italo has been devastatingly dominant since winning the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters and seizing the World Title. Best of all, he's done it with stoke in his heart and a smile on his face.
Now, Italo's inviting his ever-growing fan base around the world to join him in Portugal as he looks to keep the good times rolling ... because when Italo wins, everyone wins.
He's spent a considerable amount of time in Portugal over the last couple of years and feels supremely comfortable in the myriad of conditions the country's vast coastline provides. Could Italo win his third WSL Countdown Series event of the year? The smart money says yes.
Can Defay Defend?
Johanne Defay admitted that all the time off in recent months has taken a slight toll on her competitive conditioning, but after powering through a strong win in France earlier this week, look for her to keep on charging forward in Portugal.
Last year she made the quarters at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal and knows the area well. Her strong rail game is perfectly suited for the abundance of energy that's brewing in the Atlantic right now.
Defay earned her win at the Rendez-Vous with some last-second tactical brilliance against the less seasoned Tahitian Vahine Fierro. Her experience served her well in the first stop of the Euro Cup, and now with this momentum in potentially better surf, she's going to be extremely tough to beat.
Who's CT Ready?
As we continue to build up towards the return of the Championship Tour in 2021, the Countdown Series has afforded everyone the time and space to get back into their competitive mindsets. Of course, it doesn't look like Italo ever left that space, but for everybody else, the return to competition is a chance to get the feet in the wax and get acclimated again to the pressure.
Look for Kanoa Igarashi, Leonardo Fioravanti and Frederico Morais to feel right at home in wherever the contest lands. All of them have spent copious amounts of time in the water in Portugal, Morais is a straight local legend there, and anyone of them could be a huge problem for Italo.
Women's top seed Johanne Defay continues to be the only CT woman in the draw. What's going to be really interesting to see is how Vahine Fierro bounces back. The 2017 World Junior Champion made a huge statement in France as she almost took out the comp. Proving that she's comfortable in beachbreaks as much as pumping Tahitian tubes, it's going to be really interesting to see what she brings to the party this time
Complete List Of Scheduled Surfers: