Dylan Moffat (AUS) surfing in Round of 96 at the Meo Vissla Ericeira Pro on Oct 3, 2021 in Ericeira , Portugal.(Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League)

  • Electric Performance from Ohhara Eclipses World Champion Ferreira 
  • Zeke Lau Rides Momentum Wave, Brings the Heat in Ericeira
  • South African Duo McGillivray – Prestwich Advances into Round 2
  • Next Call Monday at 7:35 a.m (WEST)
  • More at www.WorldSurfLeague.com 

Stop No.2 on the 2021 Challenger Series, the MEO Vissla Pro Ericeira launched today in three-to-five foot surf and strong cross shore winds, challenging some of the world’s top surfers. 

The lineup at Ribeira D’Ilhas offered just as many opportunities to perform as chances to get lost in a moving lineup, but once the ocean surface started cleaning up, surfers quickly found the key to solid scores and early leaders emerged.

With no second chance on the Challenger Series, and elimination looming right from the get-go, tense battles ensued in the 18 heats completed of the men’s Round of 96.

Electric Performance from Ohhara Eclipses World Champion Ferreira

Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) surfing in Round of 96 at the Meo Vissla Ericeira Pro on Oct 3, 2021 in Ericeira , Portugal.(Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League)

It’s hard to cast a shadow over the exuberant personality and surfing of 2019 World Champion Italo Ferreira (BRA), especially in Portugal where he’s absolutely adored by the fans. Yet former US Open winner Hiroto Ohhara(JPN) managed to do just that with a brilliant performance in their Round 1 matchup and his ever-so joyous post-heat interview in which he revealed a little grudge he still holds over Ferreira.

“It’s my first heat here in a while as I didn’t compete last year,” Ohhara said. “I’m super happy to be back in Ericeira and finally get one over Italo (Ferreira) cause he beat me twice in the Olympics! This is one of my favorite places to compete so I’m stoked to be able to go through and surf again here at Ribeira.”

Both surfers advanced into Round 2 and this could mean major fireworks if they happened to match up against each other again later in the event.

Ezekiel Lau Rides Momentum Wave, Brings the Heat in Round 1

Fresh off a decent start at the US Open with a 9th place in Huntington, Ezekiel Lau (HAW)  posted a statement of a win with the highest combined heat total of the morning, an impressive 14.10 out of 20.

“I’m just trying to keep the momentum going,” Lau stated. “I got into a good rhythm early in that heat and I think it helped. After you catch a wave it takes a while to get back out so I was looking to get an early and a strong start. I caught a lot of waves out there, it’s fun when you get many opportunities to perform. My goal here is to do well again and win the tour. Obviously I want to be on tour next year full time.”

After three consecutive seasons on the Championship Tour, Lau failed to requalify at the end of 2019. Recent winner of the ‘The Ultimate Surfer’ television show, the powerful regular foot is already guaranteed three wildcard spots on the 2022 CT but he has set his sights higher on a full-time position among the world’s best athletes.

South African Duo McGillivray – Prestwich Advances into Round 2

Slade Prestwich (ZAF) surfing in Round of 96 at the Meo Vissla Ericeira Pro on Oct 3, 2021 in Ericeira , Portugal.(Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League)

2021 Championship Tour rookie Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) and compatriot Slade Prestwich (ZAF) took out the all important two advancing spots in Heat 8 of the men’s opening round. Despite an excellent 3rd place in Margaret River earlier this season, McGillivray failed to requalify through the CT and is under pressure to find his form again on the Challenger Series.

“I’ve been looking forward to coming back and competing on this wave,” McGillivray explained. “This was one of the events that helped me qualify in 2019 so I definitely have lots of good experience and memories from this place. Huntington did not go well for me but with this European leg I just have to try and capitalize and hopefully these waves can play to my advantage. I want to use the knowledge I’ve learned this year surfing on the CT and put into practice in these heats to make this contest count.”

For Prestwich it’s a different story, the stylish regular foot is yet to crack the top spots on the rankings to give qualification a good go, but Ericeira could be the sparkle needed to kickstart his campaign. Much like his compatriot, Prestwich has loads of experience on righthand point breaks and the wave at Ribeira could be a perfect opportunity to land a breakthrough result.“For me of course the ultimate goal is to get on the CT,” Prestwich admitted. “So the pressure’s there but I try really hard to just focus on one objective at a time, maybe it’s just winning or making it through the one heat. And doing this really helps take the pressure off and focus on the job at hand.”

Big Names Drop Big Scores on Opening Day

Somewhat unsurprisingly some of the biggest numbers throughout the day came from the biggest names in the game. The likes of Nat Young (USA), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) all dropped excellent scores on their way to the men’s Round of 48 at Ribeira d’Ilhas.

“I’m excited to surf here because the forecast looks good,” Young said. “I got that good wave close to the beginning with the 9 and I was able to be a bit more patient to get a backup towards the end. I’m happy to make that heat for sure, I had a disappointing result at Huntington so it feels good to get that first heat out of the way.”

The surprise did come from a relatively unknown Australian, Dylan Moffat(AUS) who posted the day’s biggest heat total of 15.93 out of 20.

Event officials will be back monitoring conditions Monday morning for a 7:35 a.m (WEST) call to determine the day’s schedule.

COVID-19 Updates

The health and safety of athletes, staff, and the local community are of the utmost importance and there are a robust set of procedures in place to keep everyone safe. Athletes, staff, media and the public will be required to show proof of the “Health Pass” before accessing any of the event facilities or the beach.

The WSL encourages fans to follow the event online and watch all the action LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com.

Watch LIVE Action!

All the MEO Vissla Pro Ericeira action will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL app and the WSL’s Facebook Page. Also, check local listings for coverage from the WSL’s broadcast partners. 

The 2021 MEO Vissla Pro Ericeira is scheduled from October 2-10, 2021, at praia de Ribeira d’Ilhas, Ericeira – Portugal. For all results, photos, video highlights and press releases, log on to worldsurfleague.com

The MEO Vissla Pro Ericeira is supported by MEO, Vissla, Tourism of Portugal, Mafra City Council, Ericeira World Surfing Reserve, EDP, Estrella Galicia, You & The Sea Hotel and Apartments and Hertz.

About the WSL 
Established in 1976, the World Surf League (WSL) is the home of the world’s best surfing. 
 
A global sports, media and entertainment company, the WSL oversees international tours and competitions, a studios division creating over 500+ hours of live and on-demand content, and via affiliate WaveCo, the home of the world’s largest high performance, human-made wave. Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, the WSL has regional offices in North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and EMEA.
 
The WSL annually crowns the men’s and women’s surfing World Champions. The global Tours and Competition division oversees and operates more than 180 global contests each year across the Championship Tour, the development tiers, including the Challenger, Qualifying and Junior Series, as well as longboard and big wave properties.  
 
Launched in 2019, WSL Studios is an independent producer of unscripted television projects, including documentaries and series, which provide unprecedented access to athletes, events, and locations around the world. WSL events and content are distributed on linear television in over 743M+ homes worldwide and across digital and social media platforms around the world, including WorldSurfLeague.com
 
WaveCo includes the Surf Ranch Lemoore facility and the utilizing and licensing of the Kelly Slater Wave System.
 
The WSL is dedicated to changing the world through the inspirational power of surfing by creating authentic events, experiences, and storytelling to inspire a growing, global community to live with purpose, originality, and stoke.  
 
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.