Andre had a tough road to the final, but managed to beat Jordy Smith (ZAF) for the second time in a row after their semifinal battle in France, before dispatching of fellow Brazilian Wiggolly Dantas in the Semis. The explosive goofyfooter kept building momentum at Guincho, culminating with a dominant performance in the Final to take the win.
â€œOh man, it feels great! I don't really know what to say, I just want to say thank you guys for everything, you have made my life, thanks everyone here for the support.â€ Andre addressed the crowds during the award ceremony. â€œI was paying a lot of attention during the expression session before the Final, and I saw the tide was getting lower, so I was sticking to my game plan of catching a lot of waves and keep building scores, and I'm so stoked that it worked out.â€
With his win in Cascais, Andre takes the lead in the QS rankings to solidify his position as a WCT surfer in 2015. Andre also jumps in the lead of the Portuguese Waves Series - Cascais Trophy before the third and final event in Peniche, and has a strong chance of securing the bonus $50k prize purse up for grabs.
Stu Kennedy (AUS) 24, was the Australian revelation in Cascais. After a slow start in the earlier rounds, Kennedy took his surfing to the next level to consecutively eliminate Freddy Patacchia Jr. (HAW), Jeremy Flores (FRA) and Julian Wilson (AUS), three current WCT competitors, on his way to the Final.
â€œIt feels great to take down some of the big names,â€ Kennedy said. â€œHopefully after this it will boost my profile a bit more and I'm able hopefully to get some sponsors and keep doing this grind to get to the tour!â€
For the first time this week, Kennedy seemed out of rhythm in the Final and couldn't stop the non-stops assaults from Andre. His best result of the season, a runner-up finish in Cascais will vault the young Australian up to 22nd in the QS race before the last few events in Brazil and Hawaii.
â€œIt's up there with some of the best results I've ever got," Kennedy said. "I won a 6-Star a few years ago but haven't been on the podium in a while so it means a lot. I'm not doing Brazil, so I'll just leave it up to Hawaii, but I'm not putting the stress on myself to qualify.â€
One of the event standouts all week, Dantas, 26, dispatched of fellow Brazilian Italo Ferreira (BRA) early this morning to reach the Semifinals. Lethal on his forehand, Dantas has been dismantling the lefts on offer at Guincho, consistently posting high scores in all of his matchups.
â€œIt's funny 'cause five years ago everyone in Brazil said I couldn't surf on my forehand,â€ Dantas commented. â€œI trained for three years non-stop and I showed them in Saquarema that I could get a result on lefts, now I just want to continue to improve. I love this wave, my girlfriend lives here and I surf here all the time. Portugal is amazing, every time I come we get solid waves and I'm definitely more confident in bigger conditions.â€
Dantas's great run was halted by event winner Andre in the first Semifinal, where he was unable to keep his momentum going. An equal third place in Cascais vaults the young Brazilian to third on the rankings and puts him right in the mix for a maiden, coveted qualification for the elite Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour in 2015.
â€œIt's the best feeling in the world to know that I've qualified for the WCT next year,â€ an ecstatic Dantas continued. â€œI'm a bit sad that I lost here, but to know that I'm finally in after a long five years of trying really hard feels really good, next year is going to be great. I love big waves and barrels and the waves on the WCT will be perfect for my surf, it's going to be mental.â€
â€œThe Final was a bit frustrating for sure, this event we've seen all sorts of conditions from huge to now really small,â€ Wilson said. â€œIt's been really fun, it's been good to make some heats, get back in the game a bit.â€
Wilson couldn't, however, stop event runner-up Kennedy in their Semifinal matchup and had to settle for an equal-third place in Cascais. The finish is a good confidence boost Wilson that can carry into Stop No. 10 on the WCT, the upcoming Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal in Peniche.
â€œI got to surf a lot of heats here and I feel very comfortable and will take some confidence with me to Peniche for sure,â€ he continued. â€œI really enjoy the waves over there so it was good to have a bit of a warm up.â€
The Cascais Billabong Pro also rounded up the 2014 European QS season, and after a final day of action in Guincho where Flores and Bourez could potentially net the European Title, it was Joan Duru (FRA) 25, who was crowned the 2014 European Champion, with a runner-up finish in Azores and a 9th place in Pantin.