Barrels . . . Barrels . . . Barrels! That’s what was on tap for the Rip Curl Pro Portugal 2011. As the contest got started in round 1 the swell was solid.
The contest directors as well as the surfers knew what was on the horizon for Supertubos. The swell filled in with some classic barreling waves.
The contest kicked off with some classic battles in the water. Early on Julian Wilson, Kelly Slater, John John Florence, Matt Wilkinson and Gabriel Medina all looked sharp in pumping barrels.
The heat of the event in the early rounds was when Kai Otton went up against Julian Wilson in round 3. Kai Otton opened up his campaign with a 9.97 and backed that wave up right away with an 8.43. Julian was behind for most of the heat after scoring a 9.43 early on. Later in the heat Julian scored a 9.70 to take down Otton who surfed a great heat only to fall short in the end.
John John Florence looked right at home in the barreling conditions when he took out Owen Wright in round 3. With Owen Wright out of the contest, Kelly Slater would be able to make a major move toward locking up the World Title. Kelly did not miss the chance.
As the contest moved into round 4 it was clear who the man to beat in this event was. Kelly Slater seemed to take his surfing to another level (as if there is that higher place). Kelly dismantled the competition in round 4. KS scored a 19.30 two-wave total to beat Chris Davidson (13.40) and Heitor Alves (17.20).
As the round 5 matchups lined up, Julian Wilson vs Chris Davidson on paper looked to be a great match-up only to get skunked on sets coming in. Wilson won with a 6.83 two-wave total to Davidson’s 3.50. John John Florence went down to Bede Durbidge by a tight margin 17.44 to 17.06. Bede was someone to keep an eye on, as he looked strong as the event moved into the later rounds.
The quarters were set with Taj Burrow vs Julian Wilson as the first match-up. Taj opened up with a few low scores, but found his feet on his third wave with a 9.37. Julian’s first scoring wave was a 7.50. Taj was on a mission, but Julian looked like a seasoned vet in just his rookie campaign on the pro tour.
Julian Wilson caught a bunch of waves but nothing with any scoring potential until his last wave of the heat, in which he scored a perfect 10-point ride. It came a little too late as Taj locked in an 8.57 backup score to take the heat. Taj was fired up as he moved onto the semis.
Next up in the quarters was Heitor Alves vs KS. Slater would not be denied as he took it to Heitor catching 12 waves to Alves’ 7 waves. Slater stayed active as he often does after he locked in a 9.70 and then backed that up with a 9.00. Alves is a great surfer, but Slater took the driver seat in this heat and never looked back as Heitor scored a two-wave total of 7.67. The Slater freight train was on the move and the familiar question was “who could stop him?”
Next up was Adriano de Souza vs Michel Bourez. This heat was pure power surfing as these two went wave for wave. Adriano would take the heat in the end with a two-wave total of 17.60 to Michel’s 17.53. Adriano scored a perfect 10 on his fifth wave and backed that up with a 7.60. Michel Bourez had the heat lead early on scoring a 9.50, but only getting an 8.03 backup score. Adriano is one tough competitor.
Joel Parkinson vs Bede Durbidge was the last quarterfinal in the water. This heat was a great display of barrel riding and veteran tactics. Joel got out to a great start scoring a 9.10 on his second wave and backing that up with a 7.50.
Bede matched Joel with a 9.00 on his second wave, but was able to follow that up with an 8.10. Bede used veteran tactics late in the heat with priority to sit on Joel and prevent him from dropping into a solid wave late in the heat. Bede was in form and moved on to the semifinals, which were now set.
In heat 1, Kelly Slater took to the water against Taj Burrow. Kelly Slater would strike first on his first wave scoring a 9.50. Taj Burrow would answer with a 9.80 with a more critical slash after riding out of an insane barrel. Taj Burrow would break his leash later in the heat.
While Taj was paddling out he would witness Kelly Slater drop into a bomb. This wave proved to be the difference as Slater was super deep in the barrel and was able to come flying out after disappearing behind the green curtain. Slater grabbed a perfect 10 to propel him into the final. KS beats Taj with a 19.50 two-wave total to 16.87. Taj had a great event, but Slater showed why he is the reigning king.
The second semifinal was a battle between Bede Durbidge and Adriano de Souza. Adriano scored early with a 6.83 and a 7.00. Bede played catch-up and could not find that epic ride he was looking for. Bede’s scoring waves were a 7.03 and a 5.00.
Bede surfed out of his mind to make the semifinal and it was a real treat to see him rip it up. Adriano is one of those surfers that can be very dangerous when he is on. He definitely found his form at the right time making his way into the final.
The final was now set between Kelly Slater (USA) and Adriano De Souza (BRA) . . . let the fireworks begin.
The heat started with Slater dropping in first, but was not able to make it out of the barrel and scored a 3.00. After Adriano scored a 0.93 on his opening ride he took it to Slater dropping a 9.00 on his second wave.
Slater likes to get out of the gate early, but this time it was Adriano who took control. Slater seemed to scramble to try and make something out of some non-set waves but was unsuccessful. Adriano backed up his 9.00 with a 6.67. Slater managed to score a 6.83 and backed that up soon after with a 7.90.
Slater was unable to get another scoring wave and went down to the Brazilian. Adriano de Souza won 15.67 to Slater’s 14.73. It was a very tight heat. Slater needed one more scoring potential wave that never came. They both caught 8 waves and Adriano’s 9.00 proved to be the difference. Congratulations to Adriano De Souza on winning the Rip Curl Pro Portugal 2011!
This event was amazing. If you missed any of the action I would recommend checking it out on the Rip Curl site. Julian’s heat with Kai was insane. Slater surfed a great event and the Brazilian powered his way to the victory. Portugal proved to be an amazing venue for the WCT once again.
The waves were epic as the barrels filled the hearts and minds of all who witnessed the action. Only a surfer knows the feeling!
Now it’s on to San Francisco… where Slater will be knocking on the door to his 11th World Title. He needs a 9th finish or better in SF to clinch #11.
~ P. Franklin / Guerrilla Surf – GuerrillaSurfers@gmail.com