There's a storm brewing in the North Atlantic right now. It's heading towards Portugal and is expected to reach peak intensity upon landfall on or around October 3. It's kind of unusual, this storm: Two major fronts, nearly equal in size and strength, will meet head-on, which will make for one powerful and unpredictable tempest.
The EDP Cascais Girls' Pro is another new event for the Top 17 this year. It is the first ASP Women's World Championship Tour event in Portugal since the 2010 Rip Curl Pro, which Carissa Moore won, and it will be the first time in history that the WCT finishes in Europe.
The EDP Pro also marks the first time since 2007 that the world title race has come down the last event of the season. A miniscule 200 points separate the two remaining title contenders, Moore and Tyler Wright. 200 points. That's smaller than the difference between finishing first and second in the event, so frankly, the title could just as easily go to one or the other.
"It's been close all year, and it's great to see it come down to the last event of the year," said Moore. "As a fan and competitor this is what you want to see, this is where the performance level can go to the next level."
Echoing that sentiment, Wright remarked, "Women's surfing right now is just absolutely on fire. I just want to push my surfing and I know they're pushing theirs."
The other major plotline in Portugal is re-qualification, and who will be part of the Top 17 in 2014. The top 10 surfers on the WCT automatically re-qualify, but the remaining seven spots go to the six best-ranked competitors on the Qualifying Series and an ASP wildcard. The qualifying events are already finished, so the EDP Cascais Girls' Pro is the last shot for those who find themselves on the bubble. This puts ladies like Alana Blanchard, Laura Enever, Malia Manuel and Paige Hareb in a tough spot. They'll all be battling to stay on tour next year.
"As a European, I'm stoked about another contest here," said France's Pauline Ado, who will also be surfing for her place on tour. "Portugal has a lot of passion for surfing [and] the waves around the Carcavelos area are very good, so I can't wait for this event. It's also good to add an event at the end of the year, instead of finishing the tour in July."
Oh, and about that storm out there. Ben Freeston, head forecaster at Magicseaweed.com says, "We're tracking a potential new storm system due to build during the weekend and send solid swell to the beaches of the Cascais area from Wednesday next week. The northwesterly direction means it loses some power before it reaches Carcavelos, but we're expecting contestable conditions for the start of the waiting period. The swell then drops back towards the end of the week."
In this case, "contestable conditions" mean four to eight-foot swell at 12 seconds. There is another system moving in over next weekend, but waiting for it to materialize could prove risky, so there is a good chance that this will be another breakneck-paced comp. The waiting period for the EDP Cascais Girls' Pro runs from October 3 - 7. Watch live at www.aspeurope.com/edpcascais.
2013 ASP Women's WCT Ratings (Heading into EDP Cascais Girls Pro):
1. Carissa Moore (HAW) 54,700 pts
2. Tyler Wright (AUS) 54,500 pts
3. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 49,400 pts
4. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 45,300 pts
5. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 35,650 pts
6. Lakey Peterson (USA) 35,400 pts
7. Coco Ho (HAW) 32,150 pts
8. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 28,400 pts
8. Pauline Ado (FRA) 28,400 pts
10. Laura Enever (AUS) 25,900 pts
10. Alana Blanchard (HAW) 25,900 pts
12. Malia Manuel (HAW) 23,650 pts
13. Paige Hareb (NZL) 21,400 pts
14. Silvana Lima (BRA) 20,200 pts
15. Sage Erickson (USA) 17,950 pts
16. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 15,700 pts
17. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 14,500 pts