by Sacha Specker on 26th August 2011
Sintra Portugal Pro
Event 5 of 8, Mens Grand Slam Series
22-28 Aug 2011
Praia Grande, Sintra, Portugal (Thursday, Aug 25, 2011) - Round 4 of the Ladies (WWT) and Round 1 and 2 of the Mens (GSS) of the 2011 Sintra Portugal Pro ran in building 4-6 foot shifty waves today.
The first heat of the day saw Catarina Sousa (POR), winner of this event in 2009, take down Akiko Sato (JAP) in the first of the woman on woman Round 4 heats. Sousa commented: " The first heat is always hard, but I won and now I am feeling confident for my next heat. Finding herself in the final 8 and on the opposite side of the draw to 2010 World Champion, Isabela Sousa (Ceara / BRA), the Portuguese competitor added, "I hope to win this competition again".
Other highlights in the Ladies division saw Eunate Aguirre (ESP) and Isabela Sousa (Ceara / BRA) committing to powerful and fluid riding, executing big rolls and tight pocket spins to take out their Round 4 heats.
The Men's side of today's action heated up as Round 1 and 2 divided the field of competitors. Jared Houston (Cape Town/ZAF), Jeff Hubbard (HAW) and Dave Winchester (Mullumbimby / AUS) are guaranteed qualification into Round 4, with all three collecting two wins and a total of 12 points each.
Houston was the first of the guys to collate his 12 points and removing the pressure from his Round 3 heat tomorrow. "I'm super happy to be in this position and have no stress for tomorrow." Blitzing both his heats and feeling confident for this event, Houston added: "I want to get nothing less than firsts all the way through to the final."
Hubbard and Winchester are no strangers to winning World Tour events, Hubbard winning as recently as 2 weeks ago in Mexico and Winchester taking out the illustrious Shark Island Challenge in June this year. Both are relieved to have two wins each at this point of the 2011 Sintra Portugal Pro in the Leaderboard phase.
With the tide dropping and swell still building this afternoon, many competitors commented on the challenging conditions. Winchester mentioned: "My Round 2 heat was tough work, it was like paddling on a treadmill for 30 minutes. I managed to get an alright invert and I was lucky to come away with another win. I'm just glad that I'm not in the pressure-cooker for tomorrow."
Commenting about his approach to Round 3 tomorrow, Hubbard explained: "I have nothing to lose, so I can afford the time to get to learn the wave and get some more practice in before my man on man heat."
Brazilian past World Champions, Guilherme Tamega (Copacabana / BRA) and Uri Valadao (Salvador / BRA), as well as Jones Russell (Port Mac / AUS), Mark McCarthy (Richards Bay / ZAF), Mike Stewart (HAW), Pierre-Louis Costes (Capbreton/France) and Sergio Alonzo (VEN) have each displayed impressive performances, however none of the before mentioned riders has earned more than 10 points after Round 2 on this stage of the Leaderboard phase. Going into Round 3, all of them are under pressure to secure a solid result and earn enough points to finish in the top 16.
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