The expected excellent swell made its way to Ericeira for Day 2 of the Buondi Billabong Pro Portugal and Day 2 saw some of the bext conditions of the year give all Round 2 competitors some great scoring potential. Some four to six foot (1.2 to 2 meter) waves broke all day over the reef of Ribeira d’Ilhas and athletes put on a show of powerful carving surfing and serious comitment to take advantage of the 100-meter rides on offer.
Another twenty-two heats were held today Round 2 and a couple of Round 3 heats coming to an end and giving names of the last 96 competitors still in contention for the ASP World Qulaifying Series (WQS) 6-Star event. Top seeds will paddle out tomorrow from 7.30 AM and similar slightly smaller waves should be peeling for the show.
Young guns and WQS experienced campaigners came up with great performances giving the crowd a series of exciting clashes battling it out for a spot in the top seeded surfers’ round. Gavin Roberts (ZAF), who has been surfing around the world for several years as a competitor, secured the ride of the day in Heat 18 posting an excellent 9.50 point wave (out of a possible 10) on his forehand putting together five solid re-entries up to the inside section.
"I am pretty happy with that heat, I just waited for the wave to come and found the high score," Roberts said. "It is the first time ever I am competing on this wave and I am stoked to finally get a chance to surf it in solid conditions. It is a lot bigger than many of the waves we had on tour this year and I usually surf better in these conditions."
Roberts, who started off his European campaign with an equal 17th in Newquay, has been showing consistency since then and seems in good form looking forward to paddling back out. However, Roberts could be surfing his last event this week.
"I started well in England and I was just looking to enjoy my time competing which is happening," Roberts said. "It is probably the last event I will be surfing in as I have been thinking of retirement and settling down. I have been around for sometime and I just feel like getting a job now and pulling back. The funny thing is that since I have nothing to lose, I am surfing better and better."
Roberts will meet Hawaiian powerhouse and former ASP World Champion Sunny Garcia (HAW) when competition recommences.
Posting the best heat result of the day was 20-year-old Tanner Gudauskas (USA) with an excellent 17.00 point heat total (out of a possible 20) to advance through to Round 3 where he will meet fellow American Nathan Yeomans (USA) and Gold Coast top surfer Adam Melling (AUS).
"I am pretty happy and it was fun to surf out there in these bigger conditions," Gudauskas said. "We have a similar wave at home called Churches right after Lower Trestles in California so I was pretty confident."
Tanner Gudauskas, ASP World Junior No. 3 and youngest of a renowned family in the world of surfing with brothers Dane and Patrick currently sitting in the ASP WQS Top 50, just got his best result to date in the ASP WQS 6-Star Prime in France last week and is in good form.
"It has been a lot of learning for me since I started touring on the WQS full time with my brothers," Gusdauskas said. "My brothers have had a great year as well and it is a great confidence boost when one of us starts getting results. I am super stoked to learn from them and that equal 9th in Hossegor is a great thing."
The European contingent suffered heavy losses on this second day of competition with many of the awaited athletes losing to international surfers. Former ASP World Tour surfer Eric Rebiere (FRA), former ASP European Junior champion Joan Duru (FRA), current junior ratings’ leader Maxime Huscenot (REU), Christpohe Allary (REU), Txaber Trojaola (EUK), Simon Marchand (FRA), Vincent Duvignac (FRA), Hodei Collazo (EUK) and Romain Laulhe (FRA) were all defeated today and top seeds will have to get the flag back up in the air.
Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) was one a few to advance and was in good form after his excellent performance from yesterday. Gonzalez, who started off the year with several good results inlcuding an equal 3rd in Brazil months ago, broke one his ankles and spent two months out of the water coming back to competition in France only.
"I am very relieved to get through that round because I have had a tough time and I need to get my confidence back," Gonzalez said. "I am slowly getting back to my level, I had some big scores in Hossegor in Round 1 and to get through this heat even with a low total is good."
Gonzalez, who remains one of the best chances to one day qualify for the ASP Top 45, will have to get through a second tricky heat tomorrow against former Dream Tour surfer Raoni Monteiro (BRA), ASP World Junior No. 2 Tonino Benson (HAW) and current ASP WQS Top 30 surfer Leigh Sedley (AUS).
Top seeds will start tomorrow and the national star and 2X Buondi Billabong Pro champion Tiago Pires (PRT) will have once again a massive support from the crowd. Pires, a rookie on the ASP World Tour and only ASP Top 45 surfer to defeat Kelly Slater (USA) this year, will surf in Heat 19 and is looking forward to getting his good roll going after a 5th in Lacanau and a 17th in Hossegor.