Nicol Tames Testing Conditions, Top Seeds Control Day 3 of Estoril Coast Pro
The Estoril Coast Pro resumed at its back-up venue of Gunicho today, twenty minutes north from Carcavelos, with top seeds getting their start in the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star event in solid four to six foot (1.2 to 2 meter) waves. After a day-off yesterday, it was time for current ratings' leaders to take the dust off their boards and surf in the third to last major event of the year that will be crucial regarding end-of-the-year ratings from which the Top 15 will qualify for next year's ASP World Tour.
Yadin Nicol (Wa, AUS), 22, took top honours on Day 3 of competition coming up with some world-class surfing in the solid waves to advance through to Round 3 with the highest heat result of the event so far, a 17.93 point tally (out of a possible 20), besting fellow Australian and rising star Owen Wright (Sydney, AUS) in Heat 10.
"It was hard out there and to be honest I was just preparing to go home," Nicol said. "These conditions usually fit Matt (Wilkinson) and Owen's (Wright) surfing and I did not know what scores I had. But I am stoked and it is a good motivation boost."
Nicol, who is currently rated No. 16 on the ASP WQS, suffered a shocker in the last event in the Canary Islands and was very disappointed after his loss, seeing all his closest followers jumping ahead.
"That heat in Lanzarote was hard because nothing really happened and I was kind of stuck in a hole," Nicol said. "I am happy to get that behind me and I hope I can get through a few more heats this week. I put a lot of pressure on myself in the last event and it did not work well moreover with every single person who needed a result getting one wether in the Canarys or in Brazil."
Nicol will meet with Gavin Gillette (HAW), Brandon Jackson (ZAF) and ASP Top 45 member Travis Logie in Round 3.
Jonathan Gonzalez (Tenerife, CNY), current ASP WQS No. 43 who suffered a major ankle injury that kept him out of the water for three months between May and July, was the first surfer to tame the tricky demanding conditions posting an impressive 17.90 point heat tally (out of a possible 20) including a 9.17 point ride before a last minute 8.73 score to secure his Round 3 berth.
"I thought it would be more difficult before paddling out but I managed to get some good waves," Gonzalez said. "I started on the lefthanders and got a few good scores but I found better potential on the rights in the end and ended up with two great waves. I am very relieved."
Gonzalez, who placed equal 17th in the ASP WQS 6-Star Prime event last week in the Canary Islands, came to Portugal very affected by his disappointing loss in front of his home crowd knowing a big result there would have put him back in the race for the ASP World Tour.
"Last week was very hard for me and that loss affected me a lot," Gonzalez said. "I lost motivation in the last few days because I knew I could achieve something big in Lanzarote and I ended up losing in a very close heat in Round 4 after a big hussle from the other competitors."
Gonzalez, who is no longer expecting any qualification or regional title, surfed with no pressure at Gunicho today delivering some exceptional surfing with his renowned beautiful style.
"I think I have the best board I've surfed so far this year," Gonzalez said. "I have nothing to lose anymore so I just surfed well and unleashed a bit to try and get big scores. I still hope I can kee going in the event. Looking back at the year, I know I have surfed better than ever and I will try and build on this for a good finish in Hawaii."
Tiago Pires (Ericeira, PRT), current ASP World Tour No. 31 and sitting No. 15 on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) with a good chance to requalify via the Grind, had a tough start in the Estoril Coast Pro in the first heat of the day placing second to New Zealand's Bobby Hansen (NZL). Pires, first Portuguese ever to surf among the ASP Top 45, came close to an elimination finding the scores he needed on his last couple of waves.
"I thought there was a righthander in the middle of the beach but appearently I was wrong or did not get it," Pires said. "I broke my leash early in the heat and felt a bit lost halfway through the heat. Breaking that leash forced me to start from scratch so I took a bigger board and went to the left of the contest area which gave me the waves I needed."
Pires, who will head straight to Brazil for Stop No. 10 of 11 of the ASP World Tour after the Estoril Coast Pro, is looking to better an 875 point result meaning he will have to place 17th or better in the next days.
"I have been surfing many events this year on both the ASP WQS and the ASP World Tour and I hope I can requalify," Pires said. "I did not do good in the last event in Portugal at Ericeira so I definitely want to show my sponsors and public I can go far in this event. It is important for me."
Also advancing today was a strong Australian contingent including top ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) contenders Phillip MacDonald (No. 10, AUS), Adam Melling (No. 35, AUS), recent ASP WQS 6-Star Prime winner Nic Muscroft (No. 10, AUS) and young European rising performers Noclas Von Rupp (DEU) and Christophe Allary (REU).