Words: Mimi LaMontagne
It’s 8am and the waves look… fun; holding form; but just a tad bit too puny. The girls obviously knew what they were doing, but it just wasn’t standing up enough for a good, solid ride. That’s what she said.
To the north of Guincho, a set of mountains in the county of Sintra tower over the end of the sand, their tips engrossed in a lingering marine layer from the night’s humidity. Vaguely disconcerting for those of us clothing in meager threads of cloth. What can I say, old dog, new tricks.
Sage and Courtney kick off the days events, heat one of the quarter-finals. Ms Erickson, the unexpected victor of yesterdays heat over Steph Gilmore [round three], immediately takes off connecting three, surprisingly [sorry Sage], powerful backhand turns, reaping an 8.33 from the judges. Sage is one of those girls that never quite made the big leagues on tour, for whatever reason; but when she gets a fire going, it ain’t no joke. Girls got game.
The second heat of the day between Bianca and Carissa has an anticlimactic lull of a start, tailoring a see-saw of five[ish] point waves. As swell begins to build with the tide Bianca puts up a good fight, and she’s got some real speed. But when ya can’t stick a landing, honey, Carissa’s still number one. A nine-point ride on C.M.’s behalf later, the title race is still in full swing. I look over at Tyler, suited up, hat backwards, kung fu-ing the air. Warm-up rituals are a very individual thing, I suppose. I’m not sure if this is kosher to put in print, but isn’t it a tad unbalanced when Carissa is matched with Bianca, and Tyler [World Title contender two] has superstar Sal to contend with if she wants to make the semis? When a Title hangs in the balance, one can’t help but feel a twang of empathy. Call me a sucker…
Heat three; slightly less enthralling; Coco defeats Paige and ushers Sally and Tyler into the waves. The beach ignites, as pressure descends on our contestants, whispers, cheers, and unrecognizable foreign languages drifting with the wind. The large man with a forehead tattoo is back, only this time bedazzled in an all white suit, sans the matching rainbow polka dot collar and belt. I still wonder if he’s killed a man.
The waves lose their offer as the heat drags on, both girls groveling [although expertly] for what’s on the cards. With an 8.33 [Sally] and a 7.53 [Tyler] posted as the top scored at mid heat, a nearby Carissa is inundated by the largest crowd mob of the competition thus yet. It’s cheers, tears, or fears from here on out.
Within minutes Sally tears apart two final waves and the nail hits the coffin. The Title is over, Carissa is holder; Sally has won, Tyler is done. Guincho is simultaneously splattered with RISS 2xWorldChamp merch. The ultimate in atmosphere grooming. As the semi-finals begin, chin-up Tyler makes her way through the crowd, about 20 interviews and 40 minutes later. Never before have I seen someone so cheerfully take a silver plate for something such a long time coming. It’s party time.
And then there were two… The [semi-unimportant] semis are to a close and we’re down to C. Moore and Sally F. Wave selection, skills, mindset… the list goes on and on for what makes or breaks a heat [not that I have any expertise in this subject matter], but right now, the leading influence seems to be the unstoppable stoke emanating from our World Champ. Mind of matter, so they say. By now it’s 1pm, and according to the sunshine and relief radar it’s time for a Super Bock [apparently in German, bock translates into male goat… hehe… super male goat beers] I just can’t help myself with all the anticipation, and by the waiting time outside the beer card, I’m not the only one. I got two, because, well… when in Rome.
Finals. Sally and Carissa paddle out, the crowd re-gathers, and the crumbling mush of a swell seems to pick up a bit of height. By the number of waves Sally chases, you can tell she wants it. Badly. But the ocean has no mercy, as we well know, and the chop and slop served up just isn’t doing it for our Aussie contingent. It’s a win, win for Ms Moore today, reigning World Champion and first place winner of the EDP Cascais Womens Pro.
Cheers and beers, ladies and lads.