That Perfect Storm of yesterday still has a day or so to blow itself out. Today we were greeted with rainstorms, swirling winds, messy four- to six-foot Supertubos and a number of contest calls. Round 1 was eventually called on at 1:00 p.m. with the first heat hitting the water at 1:30.
A major sporting event on a Sunday in Portugal with Tiago Pires, who is basically a National hero, meant large crowds with umbrellas and traffic jams like there's a party happening. Just before Pires hit the water a huge storm front came in off the ocean dumping rain. Instead of the massive patriotic crowd heading for their cars a sea of umbrellas opened up to cover the beach and in what was to be the story of the day, Tiago was pushed into the second spot by the unorthodox surfing of Matty Wilkinson, who makes bad surf look good. When I asked Tiago if the heavens had opened up for him in his heat, he replied pointing to his eye, "No crying for me."
The crowd had also come to see Kelly Slater and Jordy Smith strut their stuff but nobody expected underdogs Tom Whitaker and Gabe Kling to win their respective heats. Gabe said later "I'll take it anyway I can. I couldn't see what Jordy was doing to get his scores and there definitely weren't any barrels out there so I was pretty happy getting those sevens."
Jordy had arrived on the beach with only one board under his arm. I joked with him about being so confident that he wouldn't need any back ups but he assured me his minder Garth was bringing two others down. Jordy was more concerned about the surf. "Look at those ramps," was his parting comment. He tried to find them in his heat but the winds were not co-operating.
Wherever Kelly goes there is always a crowd, and as he dragged his contest jersey over his head he was surrounded by media, kids with autograph books, girls with cell phones, security, and this was still in the official area. Off to one side was Tom Whitaker pulling on his yellow jersey and no one seemed to pay him much interest, it was as if he was invisible when he ran out. The crowd soon took notice when he smashed two backhand close-out re-entries, scoring over a nine to win the heat. Slater was riding a relatively conventional looking board, but seemed to have trouble getting drive out of his bottom turns.
Slater's good mate, and the only other "New Schooler" left on tour, Taylor Knox was happy with his first round win. "We were all over the place out there," he joked after toweling off. "If I could have found a wave to ride it would have been good. I got that little carve-to-tube-to-snap that got me through. That's what you're supposed to do isn't it? Come out of tubes?" he added with a laugh.
What every one is hoping for tomorrow is that the reports circulating are right, the second day will be better with light winds, umbrellas to ward off the hot sunshine and clean four-foot Supertubos and the Top 32 going to town on the barreling beachie ... or at least that's the plan. You never know, we were chased off the beach at day's end thanks to a deluge from above.
RIP CURL PRO PORTUGAL MEN'S ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Taylor Knox (USA) 9.60, Luke Munro (AUS) 7.43, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 4.23
Heat 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.10, Dane Reynolds (USA) 8.00, Dean Morrison (AUS) 5.50
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 10.17, Travis Logie (ZAF) 4.33, Brett Simpson (USA) 3.73
Heat 4: Gabe Kling (USA) 14.94, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.07, Adam Melling (AUS) 6.70
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.67, Marlon Lipke (DEU) 12.10, Daniel Ross (AUS) 8.73
Heat 6: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 14.67, Kelly Slater (USA)13.10, Bruno Santos (BRA) 3.03
Heat 7: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.66, Tiago Pires (PRT) 10.00, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 8.30
Heat 8: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.40, Roy Powers (HAW) 6.14, Chris Davidson (AUS) 5.26
Heat 9: Dusty Payne (HAW) 16.57C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.20, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 8.57
RIP CURL PRO PORTUGAL MEN'S REMAINING ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 10: Damien Hobgood (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Luke Stedman (AUS)
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF), Bobby Martinez (USA), Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 12: Andy Irons (HAW), Jadson Andre (BRA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)