Gabriela Bryan (HAW) Surfing in Round of 64 at the Meo Vissla Ericeira Pro on Oct 4, 2021 in Ericeira , Portugal.(Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League)
- Australians Dominate Opening Women Heats
- Mixed Generations of Talent Breaks Judging Scale at Ribeira
- Hawaiian Devault Posts Big Scores Early in Portugal
- Major Upsets Loom on Day 2 of Action
- Next Call Tuesday at 7:35 a.m (WEST)
- More at www.WorldSurfLeague.com
Action continued today at the MEO Vissla Pro Ericeira, Stop No.2 on the 2021 Challenger Series, with both men and women’s heats completed in great conditions at the iconic Ribeira d’Ilhas point break in Ericeira.
Surfers were greeted by clean three-to-four foot surf breaking along the reef at Ribeira this morning, making the call obvious for a return to competition early on a crispy Portuguese dawn.
The event resumed with Heat No. 19 of the men’s opening round before moving into women’s action for the rest of the day.
Australians Dominate Women’s Opening Heats
Keely Andrew (AUS) launched the show with a dominant effort in the first heat to bounce back from a disappointing early exit in California in the previous event. The World No. 11 found her form again as she posted an excellent 8 point ride and solidified her win with a good backup.
“I’ve done both tours for a while and it’s pretty exhausting,” Andrew said. “I think what’s happening is really good on the Challenger, there’s a lot of talent coming through and I think it’s going to progress the sport. It’s a big commitment to come from Australia and stay away for so long with the quarantine and all so I’m really looking to get some big results here.”
Sophie McCulloch (AUS) continued with the trend in the following heat and Molly Picklum (AUS) picked up and ran with the ball in Heat 3. The young surfer from the Central Coast posted two solid 7+ waves to easily claim a spot into Round 2.
“A few of the boys and girls are all staying together at the Rip Curl house just up the road,” Picklum explained. “We’re all kind of vibing off each other and we’re stoked every time an Australian makes the heat. I did spend a bit of time here before the comp because it’s my first time and I love this place, it’s super pretty.”
Mixed Generations of Talent Breaks Judging Scale at Ribeira
Championship tour veteran and Olympian Silvana Lima (BRA) was one of the first few surfers capitalizing on the turn of the tide, with waves breaking more consistently and plenty of wall to work with. The explosive Brazilian seemed to surf on a different level right from the get-go with speed and flow as she racked up two big scores for a 16.40 total.
“I feel so great being over here in Portugal,” Lima said. “My board feels great and that brings a lot of confidence to my surfing. I really don’t like the cold temperature in the morning so I didn’t even free surf I just went out straight into my heat! ”
In the following heat, as conditions continued to improve, the recent finalist of the US Open Gabriela Bryan (HAW) picked up right where she left off and annihilated her very first wave to put a near-perfect 9.50 on the scoreboard early. She quickly picked up another gem for a 7+ and definitely ended her competition’s hopes of catching up with her dominating form.
“The runner-up finish at Huntington gave me a lot of confidence,” Bryan said. “Coming to Portugal I kind of had to forget about that and start from scratch again and I’m just trying to make as many heats as I can here. You’re trying not to look at the rankings cause there’s still so much competition ahead but it’s always in the back of your head of course.”
Hawaiian Devault Posts Big Scores Early in Portugal
Imaikalani Devault (HAW) posted the day’s highest total in the remaining men’s Round 1 heats with a brilliant display of rail-to-rail surfing and powerful exclamation marks on the closing section. The Hawaiian relished the chance to bank excellent conditions and made full use of the long walls on offer at Ribeira.
“I was just glad to get opportunities,” Devault said. “At the US Open heats were really slow and it was really hard to get your waves, so I was just excited to go out and get chances. There are some similar waves at home on Maui so I felt comfortable out there and I’ve surfed a lot to get into it.”
Major Upsets Loom on Second Day of Action
The event’s top seeds so far had seemed immune to early exits but things took a turn for the worse this morning as Championship Tour surfer Alex Ribeiro (BRA) was eliminated in Heat 21 and local superstar World No.10 Frederico Morais (PRT) suffered a similar fate in the final men’s heat of Round 1.
In the opening round of competition for the women, a lot of expectations were placed on young brazilian up-and-comer Sophia Medina (BRA). The sister of 3X World Champion Gabriel Medina put on a great fight with Keely Andrew (AUS) and Leilani McGonagle (CRI) but unfortunately came up just short of advancing.
‘The Ultimate Surfer’ winner Tia Blanco (USA) couldn’t convert in Portugal and will likely only count on her 3 wildcards on next year’s CT as a full time slot seems like a tough ask with her current ranking.
In Heat 7, both long time Championship Tour surfer Coco Ho (HAW) and young up-and-comer Francisca Veselko (PRT) were eliminated in upsetting fashion, especially for Veselko, who had the heat’s best wave on her account, an excellent 8 point ride, but couldn’t back it up to advance.
The next call will be held at 7:35 a.m (WEST) on Tuesday to reassess conditions and potentially resume the women’s opening round.
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.
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