With Mick Fanning, Adriano de Souza and Kelly Slater out of the Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal, the final European event of the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour, may have lost some of its main attractions, but those who took this opportunity for a surf trip to Portugal these days, have witnessed what was indeed a fall of giants.
A cloudy and gloomy day indeed, this one was, but surf was up and Kelly took to the waves as an eternal favourite of the crowd that gathered at the shoreline, fearless to the possibility of rain and all around poor weather. Slater's performance, though, was not nearly enough to win the duel with countryman Brett Simpson. Enjoying priority, Simpson piled up 13,54 points against Slater's 8,06, guarding his advantage well, denying Slater the opportunity to catch up.
With more than a minute to go until the end of the heat, Slater called it and left the water. If the math was tough up until this event, this result should place Slater out of any real chance of grabbing the 2015 championship.
But Slater, current #4 in the WSL ranking was just one of the giants to fall in the third round of the Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal, which also saw the year"s favourites Mick Fanning and Adriano de Souza lose to the two Portuguese wildcards, Frederico Morais and Vasco Ribeiro. That's not the whole story, of course. On Saturday, Owen Wright (current #3 in the WSL ranking) surfed his way out of the world championship and so did Julien Wilson (current #4). After his elimination on Saturday, Wright was pretty much out of the championship, and all he could do was to hope Fanning didn't perform well at Supertubos.
And while the press already considered Fanning as the most likely champion, whatever voodoo and crossed fingers Wright might had, worked and Fanning was out of the event, before reaching the 4th round. Fanning's elimination means the decision of the championship is definitely postponed to the swells of Hawaii and Wright is back in the race.
So these were certainly two very exciting days, with plenty of surprises. As if this wasn't enough, Gabriel Medina, currently #5 in the WSL, was also very close to being eliminated, crowning what may have been one of the toughest events ever for headliners. His opponent was Brazil's Caio Ibelli, #43 in the WSL, and it was the final heat of the day. Ibelli, which many would consider a rising surf star, was very close to besting Medina, but in one of the most spectacular moments of the day, Medina pulled a near perfect backside air-reverse, landing in the flats for a solid 9.50 as the crowd erupted in cheers.
Who would ever have guessed Fanning, Slater, Wright and Wilson would all be out at the 3rd round? Indeed, the last event of the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour has just become very interesting, but with most of the would-be winners out of the Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal out of the loop, it's anyone's call as to who will win the event!