What a difference a week makes. Still in Europe but different country, different contest, different contest director. Former two-time world champ Damien Hardman is directing the show for the Rip Curl Pro Portugal and like his surfing, his contest calls are direct and to the point.
Day One of the waiting period and he pushed the "Go" button. The men got a reprieve from the stormy conditions, but the women were thrown right into the maelstrom. No Supertubos for the gals, but a move to the back up site of Lagido delivered some serious surf.
The women were sent out in solid four- to six-foot surf that was kept relatively clean by a howling offshore wind, and believe me they were made to work after their four-month lay off.
Reigning World Champ Stephanie Gilmore had joked at the press conference that she was looking forward to competing after such a long break, but she came unstuck in her first round when the contest wildcard French surfer Cannelle Bulard pushed her into second place. Steph had her revenge when they met again in Round 3 (yes, Hardman made the girls surf three times today and he's talking about doing it again tomorrow).
"It was hard out there today," said Stephanie later. "The wind was so hard at times you were being blown off the back of the waves. There were a lot of closeouts and you really had to pick the right one."
The "right one" today was a toss up between Carrisa Moore and Sally Fitzgibbons. Carrisa ripped in her first and third round heats topping the heat scores, but right behind her was Fitzgibbons, who has been wearing the 'bridesmaid' tag all year. If you took it on today's form, Sally or Carissa could win this event, but they are both in the same side of the draw, so eventually one's going down. Gilmore current world number one, is sitting back and watching. "I'll let them fight it out because I'm ready to take on the winner, whoever it may be," she remarked.
With the current surf outlook, this time tomorrow there will be one very happy girl trying to pack the Rip Curl Pro Portugal trophy into her backpack heading for Puerto Rico.
RIP CURL WOMEN'S PRO PORTUGAL ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1:Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 12.00, Paige Hareb (NZL) 10.83, Nikita Robb (ZAF) 8.40
Heat 2:Rebecca Woods (AUS) 8.33, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 7.93, Bethany Hamilton (HAW) 5.16
Heat 3:Cannelle Bulard (FRA) 9.00, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 7.93, Bruna Schmitz (BRA) 5.20
Heat 4:Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.10, Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 11.44, Justin Dupont (FRA) 7.57
Heat 5: Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 11.43, Nicola Atherton (AUS) 8.33, Silvana Lima (BRA) 3.00
Heat 6:Carissa Moore (HAW) 16.33, Coco Ho (HAW) 14.53, Lee Ann Curren (FRA) 7.00
RIP CURL WOMEN'S PRO PORTUGAL ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1:Silvana Lima (BRA) 12.94, Nikita Robb (ZAF) 9.63, Justine Dupont (FRA) 8.83
Heat 2:Bethany Hamilton (HAW) 9.00, Lee Ann Curren (FRA) 8.90, Bruna Schmitz (BRA) 7.03
RIP CURL WOMEN'S PRO PORTUGAL ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1:Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 11.13 def. Nikita Robb (ZAF) 7.00
Heat 2:Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 9.00 def. Lee Ann Curren (FRA) 7.43
Heat 3:Paige Hareb (NZL) 11.50 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 8.60
Heat 4:Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 11.84 def. Cannelle Bulard (FRA) 6.66
Heat 5:Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.83 def. Nicola Atherton (AUS) 9.33
Heat 6:Carissa Moore (HAW) 17.00 def. Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 7.10
Heat 7:Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 11.93 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 9.33
Heat 8:Silvana Lima (BRA) 8.50 def. Bethany Hamilton (AUS) 7.10
RIP CURL WOMEN'S PRO PORTUGAL QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) vs. Chelsea Hedges (AUS)
QF 2:Paige Hareb (NZL) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
QF 3:Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Carissa Moore (HAW)
QF 4:Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) vs. Silvana Lima (BRA)
RIP CURL PRO PORTUGAL MEN'S ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Taylor Knox (USA), Luke Munro (AUS)
Heat 2: Dane Reynolds (USA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Dean Morrison (AUS)
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS), Brett Simpson (USA), Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Adam Melling (AUS), Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS), Daniel Ross (AUS), Marlon Lipke (DEU)
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA), Tom Whitaker (AUS), Bruno Santos (BRA)
Heat 7: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 8: Owen Wright (AUS), Chris Davidson (AUS), Roy Powers (HAW)
Heat 9: C.J. Hobgood (USA), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 10: Damien Hobgood (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Luke Stedman (AUS)
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF), Bobby Martinez (USA), Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 12: Andy Irons (HAW), Jadson Andre (BRA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)