Stab Magazine | Italo Ferreira Wins Portugal (Again!), Leads The World Title Race Heading Into Hawaii
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Italo Ferreira Wins Portugal (Again!), Leads The World Title Race Heading Into Hawaii

Women’s Title race takes a strange and equally exciting turn! 

news // Oct 27, 2019
Words by Big Dick
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Do you recall when Gabriel Medina lost to Caio Ibelli due to a very un-scriptable interference? 

Maybe you were surprised, maybe you were happy, maybe you were sad, maybe you made some death threats. Me? Oh, I was a bit of everything. I cried, because cry is free, but I also called in a few death threats because surf competition is very dear to my heart. 

Anyway, it has been nearly a week since that fateful day and we have seen a total of zero heats run along the way. It’s been rainy, windy and small in Portugal — you have to feel bad for the remaining surfers in the draw. The Quik Pro started nearly a month ago and a few of the surfers have been here even longer thanks to the QS events. Now they’re stuck in Portugal, with nothing to do but roam Lisbon’s historic Alfama district, eating world-class meals in Bairro Alto, drinking Porto to wash down meals, etc. 

A tough job. 

Today, those hard times came to an end as we saw the final day of the Rip Curl Pro Peniche. The surf almost made up for a dismal start to the event—the surfing definitely made up for it. The comp was won by Italo Ferreira and Caroline Marks. Shall we take it all in? 

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The first two heats of the morning consisted solely of surfers who still have a mathematical shot at the World Title. Jordy and Kanoa won, while Kolohe and Filipe felt their dreams slip just a little further away. Surely, a six-day break in between heats doesn’t exactly have a positive impact on your state of mind before a heat with so much on the line—my guess is that they spent too much time in Lisbon’s historic district and not enough time in Bairro Alto. 

Caio Ibelli won the next heat. He was not contending for a world title, only for the love and affection of his new-found Brazilian fan base. 

Then, Italo happened. He didn’t just win his heat. He 18.40-point total won his heat. How the fuck does he not have an energy drink sponsor? Guy drinks 37 coffees a day and surf likes it. This would be the most fitting signing in surf history. More fitting than Sally Fitzgibbons to Almond Breeze. More fitting than Ian Gouveia to Hang Loose. 

And with that, Mr. Big Dick disappeared into a Spanish mountain range, leaving the remainder of the event to be covered by his trans-Atlantic coworker. 

MC clocking in. 

marks c0171PRT19masurel2 

Caroline Marks got another heat over the She-Goat in gorgeous overhead lefts, making her 3-0 against the 7x Champ. The truth is, Stephanie’s blindside has but half the power and panache of her acclaimed forehand. She hardly competed with the 17-year-old. 

Carissa Moore, on the other hand, was launching back foot super-soakers from wave one. She even got a clean little tube in a mindless win over Johanne Defay.  

Meanwhile, Lakey P squeaked past Nikki Van D to set up a premature Title bout between herself and Carissa. Moore on that later. 

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Kanoa opened his semi with a Kerrupt Flip straight into a frontside slash. It’s an interesting move, the Kerrupt flip. I’ve never tried one, but they appear fairly technical with the inverted grab and spin. However, folks who can do them often say just the opposite. That the move is pretty simple. A cheap party trick. 

Our own Big Dick Power Surfer was a former Konnoisseurr. Maybe still is. Big Dick?

I asked my girlfriend what she thought of the spin. She said it deserved a 7.2. The judges countered with 5.83.

There goes her chance of ever becoming a WSL surf judge. 

Meanwhile, Jordy fell and fell and fell.

Kanoa two-banged a left and looked destined to dash the South African’s World Title hopes. With one minute remaining, Kanoa let Jordy go on a head-high closeout. Jordy pumped. And pumped. And pumped some more. Then he launched into the air with a lofty full rotation, landing seamlessly in the transition and riding out with ease. 

9.93. 

If Jordy somehow manages to win the Title at Pipe, it will be at least 33 percent attributable to that wave.

In the second semi, Caio Ibelli clocked dual 7.43s for weirdly explosive maneuvers. The first was an accidental one-footed nose-pick layback. The second was a lofty double-grab with plenty of intent. Both scores were deserved. They also felt like the highest numbers Caio could feasibly achieve in the given conditions.

Not a criticism, just a statement of fact. We all have our limits. I can’t get on most rollercoasters. 

With an eight in hand for a three-banger right, Italo had roughly 20 minutes to acquire a high-six and take the lead. It seemed pre-ordained that he would do so. 

Kaipo and Pete have taken to calling Italo “Showtime” and I think that’s rather fitting. He always seems to perform when it matters most and clearly loves the spotlight.

After several incomplete air attempts, Italo finally collected a backside half-spin and claimed it hard. The judges granted him his own 7.43 and Caio was vanquished from the event while simultaneously re-qualified for 2020. A fair trade for the 2019 back-up injury replacement surfer. 

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It’s strange how the number one and two women surfers met in the semifinals. I haven’t done the math, but I’d assume that’s a product of the WSL’s new Seeding Round. Lakey lost her Round 1 heat in Portugal, so this would make sense. 

It might also be the happiest accident of Lakey’s year, for reasons you shall soon see.

Heading into their semifinal match, the World Title situation was as follows: if Carissa defeated Lakey and went on to win the event, she would become the World Champ. If she failed to defeat Lakey and/or win the event, the race would push on to Hawaii.

You can imagine Carissa’s motivation for victory. Why anguish in uncertainty for the next month and a half when you could bank the Title today and surf Honolua stress-free?

Carissa opened with a 6.5 on a late left-hander then backed it up with a 5. Lakey connected with two vertical backhand snaps for a strong 8-pointer. With just a three to back it up, Carissa remained in first. 

Riss packed a solid tube but was engulfed by the foamball, leading to a series of waves on the head and an eventual run-around. One can only imagine her exhaustion. 

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Meanwhile, Lakey nabbed a five to take the lead, leaving Carissa in need of a high-six with 12 minutes to go.

The gals traded priority errors back and forth. Poor wave selection and poorer surfing. Quite uncharacteristic for these elite athletes, but it highlights the stress of the moment.

And before we knew it, the heat was over. Carissa, out! And Lakey’s Round 1 loss took on a whole new meaning, as it allowed her to minimize Carissa’s point-earning ability earlier in the event than would have previously been possible.

Make no mistake—this is a flaw in the WSL’s new seeding system.

I doubt Lakey was aware of the fact that by losing in Round 1, she’d put herself in a position to face Carissa earlier in the event, but it clearly worked out in her favor. And it’s something that surfers in similar situations should take note of moving forward. I’m sure it won’t get past the cleverer coaches in our ranks.

Hell, maybe Snips even had it figured out before this event and told Lakey to throw Round 1. Who could know?

peterson l0874PRT19masurel 

Now, you might be thinking, “Carissa came into this event 8,000 points ahead of Lakey. I doubt this one heat could actually have that big of an impact.”

And that’s where you’re wrong. Because that “8,000-point gap” was extremely misleading.  

Moore has been incredibly consistent throughout the 2019 season—her worst results being two quarterfinals—which is actually coming back to bite her. 

Per WSL rules, if you drop out Carissa’s two lowest event scores (4745+4745) and add her third-place finish at Portugal (+6,085), her provisional point total comes out to 53,855 points.

If you then drop Lakey’s two lowest event scores (2610+2,610), her provisional pre-Portugal point total comes out to 44,715. Meaning, if Lakey was to get second in Portugal, she’d leave Europe with 52,515 provisional points, just a little over 1,000 points behind Moore. And if she were to win this event, she’d head to Hawaii with 54,715 points—also known as the World Title lead. 

So, despite earning 6,085 points to Lakey’s theoretical 10,000 in Portugal (less than a 4,000 point gap), Carissa’s 8,000 point lead could turn into a ~1,000 point deficit. The curse of consistency!

But of course, all of this would hinge on Lakey winning the final against Caroline Marks. 

As a result of having the same coach, Lakey and Caroline spend ample time together both in and out of the water. Prior to the final, Lakey said Caroline was “probably [her] biggest rival,” because of their constant battling in mock heats and training sessions. Lakey alluded to the fact that Caroline is an extremely consistent surfer, but she backed herself to nail bigger scores when it mattered. 

Lakey got it half right. With the tide quickly dropping and surfable corners at a premium, Peterson failed to clock anything over a three. Meanwhile, Caroline earned a steady six and seven to combo her teammate and earn a second victory in 2019. 

Caroline will leave Europe in third place with 51,595 provisional points; Lakey will remain in second with 52,515; Carissa will retain the lead with 53,855 provisional points (all numbers adjusted to represent the “true” point totals, with each surfer’s lowest two event scores eliminated).

It’ll be a three-horse race at Honolua.

And what the fuck, Italo? How are you gonna go and get a 10 on your first wave in the final? And then an 8.43 to back it up? Fucking impressive, but it also raises the question: should a surfer be able to do the same move over and over and over again and still get rewarded?

Five of Italo’s six scoring rides today were based on the same single maneuver—a massive and perfectly executed backside rotation. My question is, when, if ever, should the Dane Reynolds rule apply?

Backstory: while commentating this year’s Stab High, Mr. Reynolds declared: “I just trip out in normal contests when someone does an air reverse and gets a seven, then they do another air reverse and get a seven and win the heat. It’s almost like that next one should be halved. You should get like a boring penalty.”

I’m a huge Italo fan, so please don’t mistake my intentions here. The coffee king would have won today’s final with his two backup scores, so there’s no debate that Showtime deserved this victory. I’m simply raising a broader point about competitive surfing: do we really want location-specific results to be based on a single maneuver?

Feel free to chew on it, swallow it, spit it back at me, whatever. 

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Anyways, back to Italo.

With his second consecutive final, second consecutive Portuguese victory, and fourth podium finish this season, Ferreira will head to Hawaii with a 1,000-point lead over Medina, 2,000-point lead over Toledo, and 3,000-point lead over Jordy in the World Title race (all numbers adjusted to represent the “true” point totals, with each surfer’s lowest two event scores eliminated).

In simple terms, Italo must tie Medina and lose to Filipe/Jordy by no more than one heat in the Pipe Masters to earn his inaugural crown.

And what a show that will be. 

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Men’s Final Results: 
1 – Italo Ferreira (BRA) 18.43 
2 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 6.17

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Women’s Final Results: 
1 – Caroline Marks (USA) 13.73
2 – Lakey Peterson (USA) 6.27

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Men’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.83 def. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.66
SF 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 15.43 def. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 14.86

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Women’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Caroline Marks (USA) 13.16 def. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 7.70
SF 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) 13.23 def. Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.50

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Men’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.40 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.97
QF 2: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 15.24 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.26
QF 3: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 12.86 def. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 11.83
QF 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 18.40 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 16.87

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Caroline Marks (USA) 15.17 def. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 12.07
QF 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 13.67 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 9.14
QF 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 16.06 def. Johanne Defay (FRA) 7.50
QF 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) 11.33 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 8.83

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