“I was super excited to get out there on those rights, I really enjoy those kinds of waves,” Picklum stated. “In conditions like this, simplifying the game is key. I’m fortunate to have a friendship with Ash. On the court she is amazing, just the way she is so authentic and holds herself and tries her best all the time and those are traits that I try to incorporate into my surfing and career.”
Another rookie, Luana Silva (HAW) was responsible for the first upset of the event, sending two-time WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) into the Elimination Round. Wright bounced back in the Elimination Round though and advanced in first to keep her Portuguese campaign alive.
“It’s a little tricky out there, the wind is hard to manage. It’s one of those days where anything can happen. There are plenty of opportunities but it’s trickier than it looks,” said Wright.
Wright is the only surfer who chose a basketball player for her jersey, representing Sue Bird from the USA.
“I started watching the WNBA the past three years and I think what these women do on and off the court is absolutely amazing,” continued Wright. “From social issues to fighting for racial justice and human rights, they are so inspirational. I was out for a long time so for me to come back, watching these women do what they do and speak their minds, they gave me a way to articulate what I was feeling and to come back and stand up for what I believe in and use my platform for something that I think is really important.”
WSL Champion Italo Ferreira Takes it to The Air in Opening Round
Three years ago, WSL Champion Italo Ferreira (BRA) went to Peniche with a mission, and two event wins later, claimed the World Title. Since 2019 was the last event in Portugal, the defending winner picked up right where he left off with a dominant effort over compatriot Jadson Andre (BRA) and local wildcard Vasco Ribeiro (PRT).
Pictured: Ferreira took the debate over the lip at Supertubos. Credit: ©WSL / Poullenot
The dynamic goofyfoot focused on the perfect ramps of the lefts and pulled two major aerial maneuvers for a huge 16.17 heat win (out of a possible 20) into the Round of 32. With a large lead halfway through the matchup, Ferreira spent the rest of the heat chasing barrels up and down the beach of Supertubos.
“I have great memories from here, I’m so stoked to be back,” said Ferreira. “I have been training a lot these past couple of days. The last heat was super fun. I caught a lot of waves and that’s all I want, to surf and have fun.”
Another standout in heavy barrels, Owen Wright (AUS) collected a first heat win in Portugal as well and praised his recent encounter with surfing icon Bethany Hamilton for his current inspiration in the water.
“Bethany Hamilton is an absolute hero to so many people,” Wright said. “I got to stay with her during the Pipeline Pro and she was just such a big inspiration, having her three boys there and still charging Pipe. What she’s been through and fought back to still be at the top of her game and compete on the World Tour. She charges harder than anyone, cops wipeouts, goes back out and charges hard again and I really take a lot from her.”
Rookies Baker, Pupo, Find Early Form in Portugal
By the time the men paddled out for the Opening Round of competition, the lineup had changed considerably and conditions were prime for big moves and aerial attempts. Rookies Jackson Baker (AUS) and Samuel Pupo (BRA) were first to capitalize with wins in the first two heats. The pair of newcomers exploited the rights with big forehand carves and Pupo added a little spectacular element with a great backside rotation for his biggest score of 8.10 (out of a possible 10).
“It was a fun heat, but actually a weird day for me,” Pupo explained. “I went for a free surf this morning and didn’t feel good, couldn’t really catch good waves, just out of rhythm. I found a couple of things I could get better at in these conditions and managed to do that in this heat. I’m really proud to have Naomi Osaka’s name on my back and she’s bringing me luck!”
With swell conditions building up quickly through the afternoon, conditions are expected to pump on Friday, March 4, 2022, and event officials have set a very early call at 7:20 a.m GMT to potentially continue the men’s Opening Round.