Italo Ferreira and Johanne Defay picked up right where they left off last week. Flexing on opening day, the two surfers wearing the yellow leaderMEO Portugal Cup of Surfing jerseys both aced their Round 1 heats to keep their respective winning streaks alive after topping the podium in Anglet for the French Rendez-Vous of Surfing.
"It was a good heat for the first round, there are a lot of strong surfers in this event," said Ferreira after dispatching Portugal's Henrique Pyrrait and Vasco Ribeiro. "I'm stoked to be back in Portugal, it is one of my favorite places in the world."
Held at the classic right pointbreak of Ribeira d'Ilhas in Ericeira, the surf was fun and playful, which suited Ferreira's kinetic approach perfectly. Never one to sit still, in the first ten minutes of the heat he'd already posted two six-point rides. Building momentum, by the end he'd earned himself an eight-pointer to solidify his lead and walk away with a relatively easy victory.
Meanwhile, Defay got her run in the second installment of the Euro Cup of Surfing and started by dropping what has to be considered the turn of the event thus far. On a wedgy right-hander, after a little setup work on the outside, Defay put all her immense power and strength into a devastating layback smash on the inside, closeout section.
"With only a few minutes left I figured I needed to try something different so I paddled around and finally got that wave with one good turn," Defay explained after the heat.
Of course, there were other inspired performances throughout the day. Morocco's Ramzi Boukhiam threw down the highest single wave score of the event thus far, an 8.67. For the effort, the Championship Tour hopeful relegated seasoned vets Jadson Andre and Leonardo Fioravanti to the Elimination Round, which will take place when competition resumes.
It was a solid day of results for France, besides Defay's big win, Maxime Huscenot came up huge against part-time Portugal resident Kanoa Igarashi. Taking the heat by just over a tenth of a point, Huscenot earned himself a spot into the Quarterfinals. And for the women, Pauline Ado posted a 15-point heat total, the highest of the day.
"I tried to contain myself cause I wanted to go on every single wave but you have to think strategically and choose your waves carefully," Ado said in her post heat interview. "My goals remain unchanged even though they've been pushed a year, I want to get back on tour and try to qualify for the Olympics so I'm looking forward to next season."
With the opening rounds of the men and women's brackets done and dusted, the stakes will be considerably higher when competition resumes and the Elimination Round gets underway. The waiting period runs through October 2 and there's still plenty of west-northwest swell on tap. Look for the next call to be made on September 30th at 7:30am local time.
Can Ferreira and Defay go two for two and sweep the Euro Cup? The smart money says yes, but given the other demonstrative performance we've seen thus far, this thing's going to be a battle all the way to the final horn.