PRAIA DE GUINCHO, Cascais - Portugal - The ASP Prime Cascais Billabong Pro launched today in chunky 4-to-6-foot surf at the backup venue of Guincho. The opening day delivered intense action and huge upsets at the hands of the best up-and-coming surfers on the QS tour. The misty morning conditions quickly led way to a beautiful day of competition in pumping surf.
Stop No. 5 of 8 on the ASP Prime Series, the event will decide the 2014 European Champion as well as play a crucial role in the hunt for a coveted spot on the Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour in 2015.
Hawaiian powerhouse Fredrick Patacchia Jr. (HAW), 32, came firing out of the gates, scoring a near-perfect 9.80 out of 10 for three consecutive big turns in the critical sections of a massive set wave. His fronthand vertical attack was second to none and rewarded by the judges panel accordingly.
â€œI thought I might be making a bad decision going for that wave, but it could also be really good so I took a chance,â€ Patacchia reflected. â€œIt felt like I was way too far out, but I knew the tide was dropping and I saw a couple of bombs coming in. It's really difficult out there and you really have to pick your spot. The first turn felt good, second one came out alright and I knew I needed to finish it, and man, when I did, I was really stoked.â€
World No.18 Filipe Toledo (BRA), 19, got the Portuguese crowds fired up with a glimpse of his aerial repertoire when he launched into a massive double-rotation, only just coming short of landing it. Toledo was one of few WCT surfers to advance comfortably into the second round.
â€œThe wind helped me on that wave to get more time in the air. The wind is amazing and the waves are big so you can push yourself to go higher,â€ he said. â€œIt's good to be back in Portugal, I enjoy the prime and I'm getting ready for the next WCT event in Peniche. I'm really confident and my boards are working really good. I hope to get a good result here and another one in Peniche, because I missed out on Azores so I need to do well in these last two contests here in Portugal for a chance at the Cascais Trophy and the $50,000 cash prize.â€
European tour veteran Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY), 34, was responsible for the day's biggest upset in Heat 12, taking out three-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS). The talented Canarian capitalized on wave selection and four-man-heat tactics to edge out Fanning and advance alongside Conner Coffin (USA).
â€œMy confidence going into the next heat tomorrow will be the same as today, just focus on one, two good waves,â€ Gonzalez said. â€œThe conditions are really hard right now, so you have to be a little bit lucky to get a good potential wave, and that was my focus in front of this heat and that worked out well. At the end of the heat I was super stoked, but there is still so much work to be done to get a good result here so I'm just focusing on the next round.â€
The QS alliance made of Costa Rica's Carlos Munoz (CRI) 21, and Joan Duru (FRA) 25, eliminated another top seed, Taj Burrow (AUS), in Heat 13 to start their Cascais campaigns and reduce the WCT field drastically.
â€œI haven't had a good result all year, but I'm looking for it and I'm feeling very confident,â€ Munoz said. â€œI've been working on my surfing and tried different boards so I'm super happy to make my heat. I had Taj in my heat which made me really go for it and I got two good waves. It's the end of the year, only four more events so doing good here really helps me to get more confidence.â€
Italian phenom Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 16, secured his ticket for Round 2 of the Cascais Billabong Pro, eliminating world No.16 Adrian Buchan (AUS) in the process. Fioravanti also got his revenge on Tanner Gudauskas (USA) who defeated him in the Final in Lacanau earlier this summer.
â€œThere's definitely a chance for me to get on the WCT," he said. "The train might only come by once, so I just have to try and get on it. I'm going to give it my all. I might not feel 100% ready to take on the big boys, but that's all an experience. I'm having fun, adding no pressure, just surfing heats and trying to make smart decisions and that has been paying off so I'm stoked.â€
The 2013 ASP European Junior Champion, now in second place on the European QS rankings, is looking for another strong result in Cascais to upgrade his title this season.
Defending event champion Jadson Andre (BRA) 24, fresh off a runner-up finish at the Quiksilver Pro France, survived a tricky Round 1 bout, placing second to fellow Brazilian Wigolly Dantas (BRA), and keeping his hopes of back-to-back titles alive.
â€œIt definitely was a really challenging heat for me,â€ Andre admitted. â€œI just only arrived from France around midnight last night and haven't had much sleep these last couple of days. I was really just hoping to make my heat somehow and now I can go and rest, and hopefully come back tomorrow at my 100%.â€
While Andre is now sitting in an awkward 20th position on the WCT rankings, he has been performing well in the Prime events and solidifying his spot in the QS Top 10, which should requalify him for the elite WCT next year.
â€œSince the beginning of the year I've been training so hard and my surfing felt good,â€ Andre continued. â€œBut unfortunately I've had to surf against the Top 5 guys every single time in the third round and I couldn't go past. Last week I made it in France and got second so my confidence levels are definitely up there right now.â€
Surfers and event officials will reconvene Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. (local WEST) at the backup venue of Guincho for a potential early start to the remaining heats of the opening round.