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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa
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Fri, 20 October 2017

In a few days, John John Florence could win the world title in Portugual. He did last year. Yikes! If not, seven other surfers sit in a tangled web of possibility at the top of the elite world tour.


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TOP THREE: Anything could happen with these three at six foot Supertubos. Photo WSL / Mestre


The world’s best surfers have arrived at the beach break of Supertubos for the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, the penultimate event on the 12 stop world tour. The window opened today, but was called off due to stormy, onshore seas. The window closes on 31 October. Solid barrels are forecast this weekend though.

It's a bit of a cluster-ruck at the topIt's a bit of a cluster-ruck at the top. Eight WSL Title contenders remain. They are, in order of ranking: John John Florence (HAW), Jordy Smith (ZAF), Gabriel Medina (BRA), Owen Wright (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Julian Wilson (AUS), Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Adriano de Souza (BRA). Defending event winner and reigning WSL Champion Florence is the only surfer that can clinch the 2017 World Title in Portugal.

Florence will become champion in the following scenarios: If Florence wins, Smith must avoid a stressful meltdown and has to get a 5th or better. If Florence finishes 2nd, Smith must get a 9th or better. If Florence finishes 3rd or below, the World Title goes to Hawaii.

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AT THE TOP: John John looks pensive at the press conference yesterday. Photo WSL / Mestre


“This event is always a really exciting event coming at the end of the year," said Florence, who claimed his maiden WSL Title at this event in 2016. "Last year here is one of the best memories I have in my competitive career. I’m really excited to be here this year with the swell forecast so hopefully we get some big barrels."

'I think the WSL Title will come down to Hawaii'Smith wore the yellow jersey until a disappointing Round 3 exit in France saw Florence overtake him on the Jeep Leaderboard and claim the jersey for himself. The South African has a strong record at the event, with a semi-final finish last year and a runner-up finish in 2014.

“The way the points are at the moment, I think the WSL Title will come down to Hawaii,” said Smith. “Like John (Florence) said throughout this year, there will be some big waves and some big barrels so who knows, anything could happen.”

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LOOKING AHEAD: Jordy has a bit of work to do to secure his maiden title. Photo WSL / Mestre


Medina is fresh from a victory in France and now sits in third place on the Jeep Leaderboard as a serious title contender. The 2014 WSL Champion is carrying a 25th place finish in his ranking points total so will need to improve on last year’s Round 3 elimination in Portugal in order to keep his title hopes alive.

'The forecast is really good'“It was very nice to win in France and I’m feeling really good and it’s given me lots of confidence,” Medina said. “It’s like my second home here, so I’m happy to be back. The forecast is really good so I’m looking forward to the event.”

Kelly Slater (USA) will not compete during the event due to his ongoing recovery. WSL Replacement surfer Nat Young (USA) will surf in his place.

Surfline, official forecaster for the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, are calling for: Solid swell to kick off the opening days of the contest with the weekend offering the best combination of size and conditions at Supertubos. Smaller surf is due Monday ahead of long period WNW/NW swell that fills in on Tuesday (24th) and peaks Wednesday (25th). More swell possible towards the back portion of the contest waiting period


MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Round 1 Match-Ups
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Stu Kennedy (AUS)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS), Conner Coffin (USA), Ethan Ewing (AUS)
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Vasco Ribeiro (PRT)
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), Mason Ho (HAW)
Heat 7: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 8: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Michel Bourez (PYF), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Joan Duru (FRA), Nat Young (USA)
Heat 10: Kolohe Andino (USA), Connor O’Leary (AUS), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS), Frederico Morais (PRT), Ian Gouveia (BRA)

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