Get Ready for the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal: The Third Stop of the World Surf Tour and a Make-or-Break Moment for Surfers
Posted by DAVID KELLY
Portugal Pro Preview
Now that the Hawaiian leg of the world tour has finished, things are starting to settle down here on Oahu (everything except for the trade winds, which continue to rage!).
But over in Europe, things are just starting to ramp up. Not only has there been a nonstop run of swell for the past two weeks, but the circus is officially in town, with the waiting period for the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal starting in just five days.
The contest at Supertubos is the third of the year for the world tour, with a total of 10 events contested before the world title event at Trestles in September. But it’s important to remember that after the fifth event of the year, eight surfers will be dropped from the men’s roster and seven from the women’s, leaving a field of 24 men and 10 women to contest the rest of the year. In other words, every event counts this year, especially for those surfers who are currently below the cutoff line.
Supertubos is always an exciting event, whether it’s held in heaving barrels or mixed-up air ramps. This year should be particularly exciting, with local powerhouse and former world tour competitor Frederico Morales picking up one of the men’s wildcards, alongside Frenchmen Gatien Delahaye and former world tour surfer Joan Duru.
On the women’s side, local Portuguese surfer Yolanda Hopkins has picked up a wildcard slot and will be surfing against current number one Carissa Moore and Australian Isabella Nichols in heat three of the first round. Teresa Bonvalot will also be representing the home crowd as an injury replacement for Johanne Defay.
The battle for the top spot on tour is firing on all cylinders, with Carissa Moore currently tied for first with Molly Picklum after the Australian youngster picked up a win at Sunset Beach. Defending champ Steph Gilmore is way off the back in 11th place, which means she’s currently below the midseason cutoff line. She will be looking to make a move with a big result in Portugal.
Meanwhile, Jack Robinson leads a pack of new-generation shredders on the men’s rankings, having backed up his win at Pipe with a third-place finish at Sunset. Defending world champ Felipe Toledo is in second after a win at Sunset, followed by Brazilian rookie Joao Chianca, Italian wunderkind Leonardo Fioravanti, and Brazilian workhorse Caio Ibelli in third, fourth, and fifth respectively. John John Florence sits in seventh after an underwhelming Hawaiian leg, while Kelly Slater is currently ranked 16th and will need to do a lot of work if he wants to finish the year as one of the top two Americans and earn a spot in the 2024 Olympics (which will be held at Teahupoo).
The waiting period for the MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro runs from March 8-16 and will feature competition on both the men’s and women’s tour. Check in daily at www.worldsurfleague.com to make sure you don’t miss a heat!