They are rivals dropknee and tomorrow they will be rivals prone – Dave Hubbard and Sammy Morretino, both from Hawaii were standouts during the first day of competition as Praia do Norte, Nazare finally came to life (after three lay days).
The arrival of an anticipated northwest swell this morning at Praia do Norte saw smiles form on officials’ faces, giving them the chance to get competition underway before much larger swells greet these shores towards the end of the week. A strong current came with the driving swells and a strong sideshore to onshore wind as well, making the conditions slightly rough on the edges. Had the wind been offshore, many on the beach believe the waves may have looked akin to a Skeleton Bay barrel mirror-image.
The strong current added another element to competitors’ strategies and tested their fitness throughout the day. It was nearly impossible for riders to paddle back out after a ride and still remain in the competition area where judges would recognize scores. This strong cross shore current meant that riders were forced to leave the water after their rides and run up the beach to paddle back out and find scoring rides again. This unusual element to the competition seemed not to faze some riders, but others were forced to adapt.
For Dave Hubbard, it seemed to suit him just fine. Entry into this event was Dave Hubbard’s return to APB Tour Men’s competition after he passed on his seeding from 2017 results for this year’s tour. Starting in Round 1, Heat 1, Hubbard was clinical in his approach to the challenging and powerful conditions along the shore, finding the scores he needed to lead his heats, even launching a well-executed ARS that gave the crowd something to cheer about.
Reigning APB Dropknee World Champion Sammy Morretino was another standout for the day, taking his high-octane riding into every heat and finding the ramps to see him execute some rides that the judges found more than pleasing. Sammy Morretino is very close to the crucial top 8 placing on the QEST so a strong result here can assure him a seeding into the Grand Slam events next year.
Current QEST ratings leader Isaias Ravyc of Brazil showed why he is in such a strong position, being one of the few riders during the day to find a clean tube ride and exiting cleanly. His countryman Socrates Santana, who is a two-time APB Pro Junior World Champion, who also happens to be sitting in 21st place on the QEST rankings and in desperate need of a strong result in this final qualifying event, found the waves necessary to see him within striking distance of improving his ranking and subsequently qualifying for the WGS top 24 next year.
Another stand-out during the day of competition was Pro Junior competitor Txomin Lopez of the Basque Country, who was able to find the rides to earn the highest heat score total of the Quarter Finals, 14 points. The young rider showed that the next generation from Europe are going to be a force to reckon with on the WGS in the coming years.
Regarding the Portuguese army, only Gonçalo Pinheiro is alive and will be competing on semifinal number 2 against Yoshua Toledo, Sócrates Santana and Txomin Lopez. Action is scheduled to continue tomorrow pending the official call at 7:15AM.
Picture above, local rider Tomás Meca. Photo: Vitor Estrelinha/CMN