PRAIA DE GUINCHO, Cascais - Portugal - The ASP Prime Cascais Billabong Pro, resumed this morning in a building swell to culminate in double-overhead sets at Guincho and whittle the field down to 24 hopefuls.
A pivotal moment in the 2014 Qualifying Series, this event will play a major role in the campaigns of some of the world's best surfers to either obtain their ticket for the Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour or maintain their position one more season.
Adriano De Souza (BRA) 27, current World No. 8 and one of the highest ranked WCT competitors to advance today, displayed his versatility when he dismantled a long right, earning the day's highest single-wave score of a 9.50 out of 10. The talented Brazilian paved the way in the first heat of Round 2 for all competitors to step up their game as the event moved into a new phase.
â€œAt this stage right now in the prime, coming to the end of the year, everyone is needing points and really frothing to stay on tour next year,â€ De Souza said. â€œI'm surfing relaxed, getting off that pressure from the WCT and this event for me is a good opportunity to surf and have fun. The waves have been giant down here, but every time I go out I've gotten lucky to find good waves and hopefully I continue to the end of the event.â€
Italo Ferreira (BRA) 19, marched right through the very following heat, inspired by De Souza's performance, and notched the day's highest heat total, an impressive 17.53 out of possible 20. Having finished fifth place in the previous Prime event in Azores, Ferreira's sitting in 22nd on the QS rankings. He's looking to advance into the latter rounds of the Cascais Billabong Pro for a chance to crack the Top 10.
â€œThe waves are really big and it's hard out there, but my board is amazing and I'm super stoked to make my heat,â€ Ferreira said.
Adam Melling (AUS) 29, defending Portuguese Waves Series - Cascais Trophy champion, continued his successful campaign at Guincho, perfectly exploiting the big and critical sections with his signature power carves.
â€œI had a good run here last year, it started over in the Azores and finished up in Cascais. It all just came together for me, luck went my way, and that seems to be happening out here as well,â€ Melling said. â€œI'm backing it up here on the QS, which I'm really happy about as it gives you that little roll on to the next event and gives you some confidence.â€
Brett Simpson (USA), 29, waited for most of his 30-minute bout to get active in the lineup but eventually caught a big, throaty barrel to collect an 8.10. With only minutes on the clock, the talented Californian managed to find a little corner on his backhand this time, to perform two hacks and notch the day's buzzer-beater over fellow WCT competitor C.J Hobgood (USA).
â€œI was definitely having a rough go out there, there's a lot of water moving and I was going back and forth,â€ Simpson said. â€œThe other guys got some quick scores, so I was behind the ball and with that wave I just tried to pull my inner John John (Florence) out. I gave it a go, and I needed something to change my momentum as I was definitely not having a good one until I was able to get that wave that put me right back in it.â€
France's Marc Lacomare (FRA) 24, produced the day's upset in eliminating local hero Tiago Pires (PRT) in the second round. The powerful goofy-footer who was on the verge of qualifying in 2013 has had a difficult campaign so far this season and looked revitalized in the heavy conditions at Guincho.
â€œIts crazy out there, it's way more powerful than what it looks like from the beach,â€ Lacomare explained. â€œIt's all over the place with huge closeouts which makes it hard to paddle back out, and it's hard to find any open waves. After I got that left I knew it was going to be a score, so I did a little claim. I'm just doing my best and see what happens.â€
Event officials have invited everyone to check back tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. (local time WEST) at the backup venue of Guincho for a potential third day of action. Up first in the water when the event resumes will be Adriano De Souza (BRA), Jose Ferreira (PRT) and Wigolly Dantas (BRA).