2009 Sintra Portugal Pro

On this fine Saturday, the surfing conditions were more suited to washing your dirty clothes than actually catching waves as the women’s semi finals got underway in sunny Sintra, Portugal.

The day started with incredible man-on-man heats for the men; many amazing waves in the trying conditions, with just as many upsets as the world’s elite struggled to get back to the take-off zone after being pounded by the 2 metre swell and strong currents.

Mitch Rawlin’s was really unlucky in the first heat of R8. He picked up a wave in the first 10 seconds that netted him an 8.25 average and then spent the next 20 minutes trying to get out. He finally got back in the line-up to find a 3.25 but, in true Rawlins fashion, went for a massive invert and got caught in the suds. Exit Rawlins with a 2.0.

The next heat was equally amazing with AmauryLaverhne holding off a determined Michael Novy who also fell short by 5.01.

Heat 3 and Hawaiian Jeff Hubbard continued his push for another World Title with a polished win over Manuel Centeno who was also pounded by the thumping swell.

In the 4th Fenchman Pierre Luis Costes kept his slim title hopes alive with a victory over Brazilian Paulo Barcellos and the next featured Hugo Pinheiro sneaking past an inform Aritz Larinaga.

Heat 6 was always going to be a classic with Hardy V Valadao. This is like a “Rumble in the jungle” type clash for bodyboarders and the crowd thickened for the battle of the heavyweights.

They went punch for punch until the knockout blow came from Hardy at the ¾ mark with a hard hitting invert that Valadao could not recover from.

Diego Cabrera lost in the dying seconds to Mark McCathy on an interference and Ben Player had Dave Winchester rapped up early to roll into tomorrows quarters.

H1 Eder Luciano V AmauryLaverhne
H2 Jeff Hubbard V Pierre Luis Costes
H3 Hugo Pinheiro V Ryan Hardy
H4 Mark McCarthy V Ben Player

The women’s competition had begun with many early upsets in the first days, including current world tour leaderEunate Aguirre from Spain and teenage wonder girl Isabella Sousa, Brazil, both being unsuccessful in the quarter finals.

The first day for the women was close-out central, however improved throughout the day.  One stand-out highlight was Isabella’s huge invert which stunned the crowd.  Catarina Sousa stated that “there are many high level high performance girls now;” this was proven by the maneuvers and waves being ridden throughout the week. 

For the women’s semi’s the riders were given the advantage of the jet ski to get to the take off area, which although was only one free ride, allowed them to keep up enough energy to give the spectators a great show.

The first heat was Rita Pires, Portugal, and Jessica Becker, Brazil.  The waves were not co-operating with the women with Rita stating “the waves were very hard… I thought I wanted to catch the waves on the outside so I didn’t get stuck on the inside.”  Rita took out the heat with this strategy and Jessica failed to find a second solid wave to compliment her solid 7.0 ride.  Rita’s safer 4.0 and 4.5 waves secured her win with entry into the final. 

The second semi-final was Catarina Sousa and Marta Fernandes, both of Portugal.  The beach was so crowded for this “all Portuguese” heat that it was near impossible to have a clear sight line to follow each of the girls attempts to secure a place in the finals.

The heat concluded with loud support from the women competitors as they screamed on the beach for Catarina in her big win for the heat (Sousa 10.25 vsFernandes 4.35)The crowds vocal support as Catarina ran down the beach for re-entry into the take off zone helped her strategy of “never never never giving up.” It paid off as she has made her dream a reality and made it into a Grand slam all-Portuguese women’s final in Portugal.  

The conditions should be much better tomorrow and will allow for a showcase of the world’s finest bodyboarders.  This means there will be an all Portuguese final for the biggest event for the women in the European leg of the tour.  Stay tuned, be excited and watch it live online tomorrow.

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