The 5th day of competition at the Sintra Pro Portugal was full of drama, surprises and awesomeness. Riders were greeted by a smaller swell with a much easier paddle to the lineup. The need for a jet-ski to ferry riders to the peak was no more, which was great for everyone involved.
First in the water would be Men’s Round 5 heats, with some stacked heats keeping spectators and competitors entertained throughout the morning.
The first heat saw Canary Island sensation Diego Cabrera continue his good form with a win, with Peru’s Miguel Rodriguez progressing too. Iain Campbell of South Africa was tru to form in Heat 2, progressing with a dominant display of riding and high heat score total ahead of France’s Pierre Louis Costes.
Heat 3 was where the drama of the day occurred, with Basque rider Alex Uranga a convincing winner. The drama surrounded a missed wave by the judges of France’s Amaury Lavernhe and calls for a re-surf between Lavernhe and Uri Valadao of Brazil who finished the heat in second place. Many calls were made from riders and spectators for a re-surf, but with the rule book stating that video evidence needed to be shown in order to prompt a potential re-surf and there being none available, a re-surf was not an option. Only apologies from the judging panel and a graciousness on display from Amaury Lavernhe that was truly admirable and becoming of a true champion of the sport was the outcome.
Heat 4 of this round also saw young South African superstar Tristan Roberts progress, still in blistering form along with Eder Luciano of Brazil.
The Pro Women took to the water for their Round 2 non-elimination round, with Heat 1 seeing local star Joana Schenker progressing, along with legendary Brazilian world champ Neymara Carvalho in 2nd. Ayaka Susuki of Japan continued her good form to win Heat 2, moving through with fellow Japanese rider Mayumi Tone in 2nd. Sari Ohara of Japan was also in fine form, taking out Heat 3 and progressing along with Valentina Diaz of Chile. Heat 4 was dominated by Alexandra Rinder of the Canary Islands and Isabela Sousa of Brazil.
Round 3 of Dropknee entered the water after this and with a World Title in the balance, the tension was high, in some heats in particular.
Heat 1 was a straightforward affair that saw previous world champ Cesar Bauer of Peru advance along with David Valladeres of Venezuela. Heat 2 was an all Hawaiian match-up with Dave Hubbard and Miles Kauhaahaa advancing ahead of Pohaku Kekaualua, keeping both their world title dreams alive. Heat 3 saw Amaury Lavernhe of France seem to channel the disappointment of his luck in the Men’s Pro and use it to destroy the competition in dropknee, advancing on a high heat score total along with Luis Pereira of Portugal. Heat 4 was once again the Sammy Morretino show, with the young Hawaiian advancing along with his countryman Mack Crilley.
Quarter Finals of the Dropknee would be where a few contenders for the world title would be eliminated, beginning with Miles Kauhaahaa, who was narrowly beaten by Cesar Bauer in the final 20 seconds of the heat. Disappointment was evident with Miles, but his ohana was strong and we are sure to see him be a real threat again next year for the title. David Hubbard reminded everyone of why he is one of the greatest dropknee riders of all time with a brutal display and win over David Valladares. This keeps Hubbard well and truly in the title race. Heat 3 once again saw Amaury Lavernhe continue his dominance, with a narrow win over Mack Crilley. And Heat 4 saw Sammy Morretino make short work of Portugal’s Luis Pereira
After repercharge heats were completed, the women eventually entered the water again, this time to complete Round 4.
And what a round!?
Japan’s Mayumi Tone absolutely killed her competition in Heat 1 scoring one of the highest heat score totals of the entire competition, a 17. Some large rolls and clean bottom turns is what grabbed the judge’s eyes. Joana Schenker of Portugal also progressed. Heat 2 saw Ayaka Susuki stay in control of what was a low-scoring heat, with a shock exit for Neymara Carvalho of Brazil, who was narrowly beaten to second place by Luz Marie Grand of Puerto Rico. Heat 3 saw Isabela Sousa of Brazil and Sari Ohara of Japan domainte and progress ahead of Teresa Almeida of Portugal. Heat 4 saw Alexandra Rinder of the Canary Islands advance along with Madalena Padrela of Portugal.
Quarter Final match-ups were all tough, with the first taking place between PLC and Diego Cabrera. PLC was dominant throughout this heat, with strong combination waves and a couple of flips thrown in to take the win. Heat 2 was a clinic from Iain Campbell, who scored the first perfect 10 of the event, which was backed up by a 7.5 to end Miguel Rodriguez’ campaign.
Following this resounding victory, Campbell had this to say about his 10-point wave in particular:
“I’m still not convinced it was a 10, but pretty happy with the score. I have been advancing on better scores in every heat, so at least I know I am still building and feel like I still have plenty more in the tank to go. So, it should be an exciting day tomorrow.”
Iain completed a variety of different tricks throughout the heat, which was refreshing to see for judges and spectators alike. When asked about the breadth of his repertoire in the Quarter Final, he had this to say:
“I just took what I could get. I got that section, which kinda popped up for the reverse, so I did that. I got lucky on a couple of rolls and then got the section that provided enough boost for a flip, do I tried that too. I am just happy to have had the chance to try a few different moves and keep practicing those moves in the heats. The judges seem to be liking them so, perfect!”
Last year’s world champion and this year’s ratings leader are now due to meet in semi-final 1 tomorrow. Iain shared that emotions would be left on the shore and his focus would remain on the basics, saying:
“For me, I am going into this match up tomorrow quite confident after these heats today. Knowing that I am performing at this level, and getting the scores gives me confidence going into this next heat for sure.”
In Heat 3, Alex Uranga also deployed a wide variety of tricks to take the win from Eder Luciano. Joshua Burguete-Kirkman, who competed in the event but has also been commentating many heats in this event too, had this to say about the Basque rider’s performance:
“Watching all of Alex’s heats during this event, one thing that I am enjoying in particular is that he is not relying only on a handful of ‘go-to’ single moves to use and progress with. Instead, Alex has been mixing his waves up a lot, displaying some strong pocket surfing that is reminiscent of Australian riders like Damian King and Andrew Lester. This is refreshing for me to see, and does remind me of the era when I last competed on the tour. It’s great to see this coming from a rider in the Basque Country too!”
Heat 4 saw Uri Valadao, a previous winner in Sintra on multiple occasions, end the campaign of Tristan Roberts, who had been dangerous all event. Valadao found the bigger ramps and launched some great flips to take the win and book a spot in the semi-final against Uranga.
Action kicks off early on Sunday and there is no doubt that the action will be incredible.
See you there!