The North Atlantic continued to send plenty of swell down Ribeira d’Ilhas way for a fifth day of competition at the QS10,000 EDP Billabong Pro Ericeira. Competition resumed with the remaining heats of Round 5 this morning and continued with the Quarterfinals on the incoming tide. Surfers could count on the jetski assist to keep all their energy and surf the solid six foot plus rights to the best of their potential.
The opening Quarterfinal was an all-Australian battle between Ethan Ewing and Jacob Willcox in an opposition of styles. Ewing on his forehand slew the big open walls with his signature carves while Willcox on his backhand went vertical of the biggest sections he could find, eventually racking up an impressive 15.57 total for the win.
“I always knew it was going to be a hard heat with Ethan,” Willcox said. “It definitely didn’t disappoint, I snapped a board and there was much going on but I’m super happy to get the win in that one. I feel like when there’s a bit of juice in the wave I’m really able to show what I can do and I’m just enjoying myself. I was on the beach here last year when Ryan (Callinan) won and it was so inspiring, but I have to get to the Final first before I can start thinking about winning.”
Samuel Pupo and Matthew McGillivray paddled out for Quarterfinal No. 2 as waves continued to improve and put on fireworks as the pair threaded long rights and posted excellent scores. The two surfers had similar approaches but were dealt very different cards and while McGillivray’s best wave was slow out the back and he made the most of the inside, Pupo scored his big moves on the first big sections and managed to navigate his way to a big finish as well, taking the win into the Semis.
“I’m just having fun, conditions are amazing out there,” Pupo said. “I love surfing in bigger waves especially when they have a clean wall so it’s a perfect wave for me. I feel like I’ve been surfing well and the judges like my surfing so I’m stoked.”
Another all-Aussie matchup awaited in Heat 3 with Stuart Kennedy taking on Connor O’Leary and while the two are traveling mates on land, in the lineup the fight was real. O’Leary unfortunately couldn’t quite find the same rhythm he’s had all event and Kennedy on the other hand just kept scoring the long rights, perfect for his point break style of riding.
“That was a pretty important heat for me especially going into Hawaii,” Kennedy said. “It’s unfortunate to have to beat Connor but he’s got me the last four or five times, and I feel like he’s going to get back on tour pretty easily so I’m not feeling too bad. It’s nice to finally get some waves on the QS, we haven’t been blessed with very good conditions all year and it’s kind of hindered my performances.”
Kennedy was earlier responsible for the major upset of the day when he eliminated Portuguese star Frederico Morais in their Round 5 matchup.
The last Quarterfinal featured 20 year-old South African up-and-comer Adin Masencamp against World No. 22 and the last Championship Tour surfer Yago Dora. Masencamp put on the performance of his career and had Dora against the ropes for 29 minutes but the Brasilian somehow manufactured a comeback in the last 30 seconds of the heat to take the win over Masencamp and advance into the second Semifinal.
“I thought I was going to get a 9 on the wave before it felt really good but I got close and I knew I just needed another wave,” Dora said. “I saw a few lefts coming through and I knew if I didn’t go Adin would have gone on the next. I fell and ended up finding that good insider right behind with a few turns. I knew this was my last opportunity but I never thought I’d get a chance.”
The event was called off after the Quarterfinals and surfers will be able to rest a little bit before the event finals on Sunday, starting with a call at 10 a.m. Fans will be in for a treat as well as Portuguese veteran Tiago Pires takes on Billabong retired pro Taj Burrow in a Heritage Heat between the Semis and Final.