Cascais, Portugal – Power surfer Zeke Lau from Hawaii won the QS 10,000 EDP Billabong Pro, beating Italo Ferreira in a fairly tense final. It was close, with only 0.8 of a point separating the two surfers, but out of the four scored waves, none of them was above a seven. It was a day when sevens were the wining formula though, with Lau punching two high-sevens onto the boards in his semifinal against Frederico Morais. For the final heat of the event, neither surfer lit up and it descended into a scrappy little battle for the mid-range scores. Despite making some tactical errors Zeke emerged as a stoked victor in the dogfight. 

Zeke Lau jumped 93 places on the WQS with his win in Portugal, which sures up his option to requalify for the CT through the back door. Photo: WSL/Poullenot

Both Lau and Ferreira desperately needed a result here, and in fact still need big results on the QS events in Hawaii, as both are on the peripheries of the CT right now.  Ferreira is sitting on 23rd spot on the tour, and Lau is just below him 25th. Despite being on the cusp of the cut-off both Zeke and Italo are still considered major threats in CT events. It says much about the increasingly competitive nature of the CT that two surfers of this caliber are battling to re-qualify.  

Despite being on the cut off bubble for both tours, Italo Ferreira remains a threat in CT events. Photo: WSL/Poullenot.

On the other side of the coin, this result in Portugal has bounced them both back into contention on the QS, with both lying just outside the bubble. With Hawaii coming up with two QS 10,000 events, Zeke is going into a very good place, and Italo also has the ability to fly in Hawaii and acquire the needed points. As it is, this event saw Zeke jump an unbelievable 93 places on the WQS rankings to nestle in nicely at 12th, while Italo leap-frogged an equally unbelievable 80 spots to slide in at 17th on the rankings.   

Much remains the same at the top of the Qualifying Series rankings, with Jesse Mendes, Kanoa Igarashi and the stylish aerialist, Yago Dora, with their feet firmly in the CT door, along with Wiliam Cardosa and Tomas Hermes just behind them. Asing and Colapinto both climbed marginally up the rankings at this event, while Michael Rodrigues slumps four spots down to 8 on the rankings.

Wade Carmichael, our big boy and hard-charging stalwart, is looking fabulous at this point. He lost in round 5 to a rampant Jaddie Andre, but still slid 3 spots up the ratings to wedge in at number 9, and inside the top 10 for now. He’s a solid chunk of human, and could possibly out-beard Heath Joske in volume and luxuriance, but he loves a bit of a push in the surf, and Hawaii is next. To further add some smiley emojis to his chances, he was the winner of the 2015 Hawaiian Pro 10,000 at Haleiwa and comes into that event brimming with confidence. The fact that he’s such a likeable chap is the only thing that might be going against him in the competitive scenarios, but ruthlessness is something that can be developed and worked on.

When Wade Carmichael jumps the ground shakes. Hopefully he lands in the WCT next year. WSL / WSL/MASUREL

Wade is currently tied with Mikey February in 9th who dropped down 4 places after this event in the process. After a cracker start to the year and earning himself a fair wedge of points, February needs another good result to firmly bank his spot on the Championship Tour. While the World Surf League is over run with South Africans in the management, photography, commissioning, judging and commentating areas, there is currently only one surfer on tour in Jordy, and Mikey has the makings of a champion, so it would be great to see him join the elite. He’s confident in the big stuff as well, growing up in Cape Town with its outside reefs and bommies and big wave spots, and knows his way around Haleiwa and Sunset line-ups. February is also a very likeable chap, and might seem calm and tranquil on the outside, but it's a false demeanor. The man is fucking voracious right now, so best you step aside.

Will Michael February add another South African name to the WCT? Photo: WSL/Sherman