With Frederico Morais (PRT) falling off the Championship Tour at the end of last season, the race is on for the next Portuguese surfer to join the elite level. Of course Vasco Ribeiro (PRT)’s name comes to mind instantly in the list of qualifying hopefuls. The former World Junior Champion, Ribeiro has since then been slowly building a strong reputation on the QS.
The powerful regular foot from down the coast in Cascais, finished his 2018 effort just a few heats shy of making the cut, with a 23rd spot on the Qualifying Series. He collected big results in Japan, South Africa, Portugal and Hawaii but was basically missing that one major finish to bump up inside the Top 10.
“I don’t want to leave everything until the end like last year,” Ribeiro said. “I had some really nice comps but couldn’t really back them up with some points and I made a few mistakes along the year. This time I want to start stronger and keep a rhythm, I’ve built some experience from four years on the QS and now it’s a matter of putting together a consistent campaign.”
Ribeiro had the tough job of setting the judges scale in the very first heat of the day and negotiating the tricky lineup nicely to post two good scores and advance in first into Round 5.
Morais on the other hand, waited all day to compete and wrapped up the show in the very last heat, advancing in second by the smallest of margins in a nail biter of a heat. 2019 hasn’t been kind to the Portuguese superstar so far, with poor results in the first three major qualifying events in Australia, but Morais is ready to turn the tide here in Santa Cruz and Caparica next week.
“Well the truth is I’ve never had a good start in Australia so I’m not too concerned about it,” Morais admitted. “I love going there every year but it just never seems to happen for me there. That’s fine, I’m super stoked to be here now and surf at home, I’m hoping I can get on a roll and finally get to the final in this one!”
First it was Marcos Correa (BRA) and Theo Fresia (BRA) taking out the recent winner in Peru Gatien Delahaye (FRA), then Luel Felipe (BRA) andVitor Mendes (BRA) teaming up to eliminate former CT athlete Ethan Ewing(AUS), then Renan Peres (BRA) relegating Reo Inaba (JPN) to last place.
It was a tough day for a few of the event’s top seeds who couldn’t quite get in tune with the conditions when other surfers who already surfed a couple of heats earlier this week just continued to find gems in a rough lineup.
For Luel Felipe all lights went green in his opening heat of the event. The Brazilian who has been a consistent threat on the QS for almost ten years now, continues to chase his dream despite the difficulties of traveling on a budget.
“It’s pretty hard out there,” Luel Felipe said. “I didn’t know what my scores were and was just trying to get more waves and better surf them. Unfortunately I couldn’t do the Australia leg because I don’t have sponsors helping me out this year but thankfully I’m here with the support from a Brazilian friend who lives here. I want to make the QS6,000 and 10,000 this year and this was a good leg to build up points and hopefully win a little bit of money too.”
Alonso Correa (PER), (other top seeds) also suffered a blow in their qualifying campaigns in Santa Cruz today. On the other hand, form Frenchmen Paul Cesar Distinguin (FRA), Timothee Bisso (FRA), Thomas Debierre (FRA) made it through as well as powerhouses Ramzi Boukhiam(MAR), Alex Ribeiro (BRA), Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) and Vicente Romero(ESP) among others.
MSW Official Pro Santa Cruz Forecast: At the moment the chart is showing ridge of high pressure stretching diagonally from west of the Canary Islands north-eastwards towards Portugal, and a broad, flabby area of low pressure further out into the Atlantic. Local areas will be influenced by that high for most of the rest of the contest period, with that low mostly staying far enough away not to significantly affect local areas.
Event continues today, you can watch it live HERE.