The world’s best female surfers have arrived in Europe for Stop No. 8 on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour (CT), the Cascais Women’s Pro, to be held from September 22 – 28.
As the WSL Top 17 embark on the final three events of the season, two distinctive stories emerge: the battle for the undisputed world surfing crown and the race to requalify for next year’s elite tour.
Carissa Moore (HAW), two-time WSL Champion and current Jeep Rankings’ Leader, has re-lit her sensational competitive form in 2015, claiming back-to-back wins on the Gold Coast and at Bells Beach to start the season. Solid results through the middle of the year were punctuated by an emphatic win last week at the Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles and Moore enters Portugal as the current frontrunner.
“It’s been a really great year for women’s surfing and the girls on tour have really pushed the level of performance together,” Moore said. “It’s a really tight battle for this year’s title and that makes it very exciting. I’m really looking forward to the European leg.”
Despite the positive momentum, the Hawaiian has arrived in Cascais without her surfboards which have reportedly been delayed in transit.
“It’s been a trying 24 hours for me,” Moore said. “I work with one of the best shapers on the planet in Matt Biolos and not having my equipment with me a day before the event is scheduled to start is frustrating.”
Courtney Conlogue (USA), current WSL No. 2, is back from an injury-marred 2014 and straight into the fire as a WSL Title threat. Conlogue posted back-to-back wins of her own at Margaret River and Rio de Janeiro and has been devastatingly consistent all season. Despite losing the Jeep Rankings’ Leader jersey at the previous stop at Lower Trestles, Conlogue is motivated to regain it through the next several events.
“Disappointing to not have done a bit better at Trestles, but I’m excited to be in Europe,” Conlogue said. “There’s a lot of opportunity of the next few events and I’m really looking forward to putting some more results on the board. It will be an exciting finish to the season.”
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), current WSL No. 3, has been a title contender since her rookie season in 2009. Three runner-up finishes (2010, 2011, 2012) and three more within the Top 5 have only solidified the fact that Fitzgibbons has the talent needed to beat the world’s best. This season has been no different with the young Australian taking a win in Fiji and a Runner-Up finish in Huntington Beach.
“It’s been a great year for me,” Fitzgibbons said. “I’ve always had success in Europe and I’m really excited to be back in Portugal. The title race is still very close and I’m going to be putting everything into these last few events.”
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), reigning six-time WSL Champion, has withdrawn from her fifth consecutive event of the season following a leg injury sustained in Western Australian in April.
“My rehab is taking longer than I initially expected,” Gilmore said. “I’m returning to the water this weekend and am able to start training and surfing properly the following week. Fingers crossed I’ll be back at 100 percent for the Roxy Pro France.”
Dimity Stoyle (AUS), into her second season amongst the world’s elite, collected a Semifinals berth last week at the Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles which vaulted her from 16th to 14th on the rankings. The result marked the first CT heat wins that the Queenslander had collected since the opening event on the Gold Coast, and she’ll look to continue her momentum through the final three events if she’s to make the Top 10 and requalify for next year’s elite tour.
“I’m so thankful, I’ve had so many people helping me out,” said Stoyle. “I feel like I’ve finally had a chance to show what I can do. I’ve been working hard over the last few months and I feel like it’s really starting to pay off now.”
Surfline, official forecasters for the World Surf League (WSL), are calling for:
A mix of WNW/NW swell and short period NNW windswell is expected for the first two days of competition with the surf biggest for Guincho and small/minimal surf for Carcavelos. Lingering but slowly easing NNW windswell/NW swell mix is due on Thursday. Rising but more NW directed swell due for Friday, continuing but easing Saturday with smaller residual swell Sunday. Only minor windswell/swell is expected for the final day of the waiting period.
The Cascais Women’s Pro will be webcast LIVE via WorldSurfLeauge.com and via the WSL mobile app.
Cascais Women’s Pro Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Lakey Peterson (USA), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 2: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), Malia Manuel (HAW), Laura Enever (AUS)
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW), Silvana Lima (BRA), Teresa Bonvalot (PRT)
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 5: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW), Sage Erickson (USA)
Heat 6: Tyler Wright (AUS), Joanne Defay (REU), Dimity Stoyle (AUS)
2015 Women’s WSL Jeep Leaderboard Top 5 (after Swatch Women’s Pro):
1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 53,000 pts
2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 48,600 pts
3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 42,800 pts
4: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 40,750 pts
5: Lakey Peterson (USA) 39,000 pts