|Seven-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and Johanne Defay (FRA) went head-to-head in the opening Quarterfinal, and the Australian got the nod to take the first spot into the Semifinals. Gilmore navigated through a clean barrel punctuated by a turn on the closing section to post a near-excellent 7.83 (out of a possible 10) and the French surfer could never overcome her deficit.
“When we’re surfing here in Peniche, it’s just constantly adapting to what’s happening out there,” Gilmore said. “I watched the boys get so many great waves all morning and I was so excited to get out there and try to get one myself. I’m happy I got one little one and I was lucky that Johanne didn’t get the score in the end, but it was close. I lost to Johanne in the very first heat at the WSL Finals at Trestles last year and that one really stung a lot, so I definitely wanted to get that heat win over her today.”
Pictured: Gilmore cruising under the lip at Supertubos. Credit: © WSL / Poullenot
As the wind picked up and more texture on the wave face closed most barrels, surfers took it to the lip with turns and Lakey Peterson (USA) took the win over compatriot Courtney Conlogue (USA). Peterson will join Gilmore in the first Semifinal.
“I’ve surfed against Courtney my whole life and she always brings the best out of me,” Peterson stated. “I really admire her grit and determination. There’s so much experience to gain from each event, that’s something I learnt after stepping back last year. I really want to enjoy every event whether I win or lose. A wave like Supertubos is so incredible, but it’s really tricky, it’s shifting around and it’s hard to read and learning lineups is probably one of the harder things for me so it’s a great wave to learn a lot from.”
Five-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) didn’t have any problems reading the lineup as she found a long barrel to post an excellent 8.50 (out of a possible 10) and eliminate two-time WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS). The Hawaiian is on the hunt to put on the Yellow jersey again and ready to strike as she eyes a big result in Portugal.
“It felt nice to get out there and just have a rhythm to myself,” Moore said. “There was a lot of room to move. I’m just here, I’m present, and I’m happy to have my husband and coach here with me. I just want to enjoy every moment and put forth my best surfing.”
Pictured: Moore right in the pocket on a clean left. Credit: © WSL / Poullenot
But Moore will have a tough matchup when the event resumes, against last year’s Rip Curl WSL Finals runner-up Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA).
“Tati is really strong and she’s hungry and I know she’s fired up so it will be a great battle.” Moore added.
In the last Quarterfinal, Weston-Webb put on a clinic with radical forehand turns on a meaty left for an 8.83 (out of a possible 10), the highest single-score of the round. The Brazilian backed it up nicely with a couple of backhand gauges to reach the Semifinals at Supertubos for the second time in as many events.
“I’m really happy with that heat,” Weston-Webb reflected. “When you start the heat with an 8, you just feel so good. Congrats to India (Robinson), she’s been ripping. All the rookies have been doing so well, I’m glad I got one off the rookies! This year on tour the surfing is elevated to another level and it’s really exciting to be a part of this generation and continue to push my surfing.”
Both Moore and Peterson have a mathematical chance to leave Portugal wearing the Yellow jersey ahead of the Australian leg. Peterson needs to win the event to overtake Brisa Hennessy (CRI) but Moore only needs to advance into the Final if Peterson does not win. For Gilmore and Weston-Webb, it’s an opportunity to put a first big result on the board after a disappointing start in Hawaii and a chance to distance themselves from relegation at the mid-season cut.