António Cardoso: the jet ski helped him in the final | Photo: Tó Mané

António Cardoso and Rita Pires won the opening stage of the Portuguese Bodyboard Pro Tour 2012, in Cortegaça.

The event also paid tribute to Gonçalo Jesus, a Portuguese bodyboard who recently lost his life riding waves in Bali, Indonesia. Rita Pires was in Cortegaça to defend her title and Cardoso was able to beat the experienced and veteran Hugo Pinheiro, in the final heat.

"I'm very happy to have won here today in the first stage of the National Open. For some years now and have earned hopes that this path. I've always wanted to win and now I have to keep the pace to secure the national title", said António Cardoso.

Hugo Pinheiro, 31, has taken national and European titles and will always be a contender, wherever he rides. His 9.5 points were not enough to beat Cardoso's 12.50 points.

"I could not start better, especially in a final with Hugo Pinheiro," added Cardoso. The Portuguese Bodyboard Pro Tour 2012 debuted a new competitive format, which promotes first places of the second and fourth rounds, forcing second and third places to a new battle for oxygen.

Meanwhile, in the Women's competition, Rita Pires started the best possible defense of her 13th national bodyboarding title, by beating Joana Schenker, in the final. At 33, the bodyboarder from Costa de Caparica did not slow down the pace and scored 10.75 point against the 8.25 points of the rider from Sagres.

"I'm obviously happy with this victory, despite not having surfed well during the competition. But I managed to hold myself in the decisive phase", confessed Rita.

"The new format focuses on the risk and performance, but the ocean conditions did not allow bodyboarders to adventure themselves too much. I still don't think of the title because there are still four more stages and competition is strong", added Rita Pires.