There’s nothing like spring on the Iberian Peninsula. Temperatures start to rise, and large north swells leftover from winter continue to send mighty surf across the North Atlantic towards European shores. While the water may still be palmy, the air is relatively warm, and the days are pleasant. The Tour’s first stop on its European leg is in Peniche, Portugal, at the powerful beach break Super Tubos. Peniche is located approximately an hour and a half north of Lisbon. Beyond Super Tubes, Peniche has a fun selection of waves for every level of surfer. Super Tubes is a steep, hollow, fast-breaking wave that holds serious size. Just a stone’s throw away from the break at Super Tubes is the city’s Sardine cannery, so the odor in the lineup can be as potent as the waves are powerful, depending on the direction of the wind.
The opening rounds of the competition on both the men’s and women’s sides were graced with an abundance of swell that provided non-stop action for spectators on the beach. On the men’s side, Kelly Slater and Kolohe Andino avoided early elimination with clutch performances. Kolohe’s 7.93 had fans holding their breaths as he was blown out of an emerald tube. On the women’s side, Sallie Fitzgerald bested fellow Aussie, India Robinson. Two-time event winner and Olympic Gold Medalist Italo Ferreira took to the air on three different occasions, eliciting oohs and aahs from the beach with each.
The first semi-final of the day brought together two Brazilian powerhouses and areal specialists, Italo Ferreira and Felipe Toledo. Italo hit hard early with a high 8 but then was slowed by a broken board. Toledo played the long game and waited for set waves to demonstrate his in-air prowess. SoCal phenom Griffin Colapinto was able to best Hawaii’s own John Florence. Griff planted his flag as a serious contender with this year’s first perfect 10. On the women’s side, Steph Gilmore and Lakey Peterson faced off in a turn-heavy duel where they caught a combined 16 waves. Lakey was able to pull off a buzzer-beater to eliminate Steph, but Steph’s performance was impressive nonetheless. Tati West and Carisa Moore faced off for their second semi-final of the seasons, with Tati besting Moore in an eventful back and forth.
A Champ is Crowded
Griffin Colapinto captured his first WSL event win with a decisive victory of veteran competitor Felipe Toledo. Griff showed his competitive expertise with his superb wave selection. While the smaller conditions favored Toledo, Griff was able to come away with the victory. Tati West and Lakey Peterson went head-to-head in a nail-biter final. Lakey showed off her backside power surfing, but it wasn’t enough to edge out West’s stellar performance.
Kanoa Igarashi and Brisa Hennessy sit atop the leader board after the Meo Pro in Portugal. Kelly Slater remains a threat at age 50, sitting at number 2 in the world tied with Hawaiin Barron Mamiya. On the women’s side, Hawaii’s Carrissa Moore sits close behind Hennessy at the number two position. There’s still plenty of surf to be had this year. After Portugal, the WSL Championship Tour heads down under to Bell’s Beach.