If the France event was the European Trestles, then the Rip Curl Pro Portugal was the European Pipeline. Deep, throaty barrels were on tap throughout the event, culminating in epic final day of competition. The trophy race turned into an endurance event on the final day, when event organizers and the surfers decided to power through the remainder of round three and run through to the finals.
Adriano de Souza stole the day, taking home his second event win of the year and a rare win over Kelly Slater in the final. This time around, Adriano's win was without question and without the highest-scored-floater-in-history controversy that marred his win in Brazil. Interestingly, both of his 2011 wins took place in the only two Portuguese speaking countries on tour. Conspiracy theorists and anti-Brazilians are surely likely to vent about this co-ink-ee-dink.
Adriano's road to Portuguese victory was paved with the blood and tears of the world's best. He posted a square win over Kelly in the final (replete with an unrewarded mega-claim), knocked out Bede Durbidge in the semifinals, and ousted Michel Bourez in the quarters, locking in a 10 point ride to seal the deal.
So, what's the net? Adriano bumps up in the rankings to third, Owen Wright stays squarely in second place and Portugal runner-up in chief, Kelly Slater, increases the height on his cat-bird seat. According to the numbers crunchers at the event, all Kelly needs is a ninth place finish or better at the Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco to lock in his eleventh world title.
Just under two weeks to go until San Francisco kicks off. Catch your breath, juggle your Fantasy Surfer lineup and hit up the official Rip Curl Pro Portugal website to watch replays of every heat.
See you in San Francisco!