Long day at the office
Brett Simpson surfed in the first heat of the day on day two of the Rip Curl Pro Portugal and arrived at the contest site at 6.30 a.m. ready to paddle out in his match up with Australia's Matty Wilkinson.
Over 10 hours later, the pair finally pulled on their contest jerseys.
There aren't many other locations in the world where a surfing contest of this magnitude would get under way at 4:45 in the afternoon. Contest director Damien Hardman said at some stage today, "Lucky we're in Europe and have plenty of daylight to play with."
Simpson and Wilkinson sat around the contest area all day trying to keep warm and stay motivated as the calls kept coming through that the contest was being put on hold.
"It's been a long day," said Simpson in what could only be described as an understatement after notching up a win. "We waited it out and the forecast did exactly what we thought it would do and the conditions are great right now with some little barrels and some open faces where you can do a few turns so I'm glad I was able to get through that heat."
When asked how he could sit there and watch the ocean for over 10 hours, Simpson said he had kept busy during the day.
"I had a couple of surfs even though the conditions weren't ideal, one as a warm-up and one in the expression session and we have a Osteopath here so I could get a little work done ... all I was trying to do was stay positive. Wilko (Wilkinson) was in the same position. As first heat we both had to be here when they called it on but I have to tell you, mentally and physically, sitting around waiting, for me, really sucks."
When the heat finally started, it all worked out for Simpson with a couple of quick scores and then he built from there for the win.
Even though the conditions for the final four heats of Round Two were less than ideal, the beach was packed as the next two heats ran with Kai Otten defeating fellow Australian Adam Melling and Travis Logie defeating Damien Hobgood.
In the final heat of the day, national hero Tiago Pires was matched up against Kolohe Andino and in what proved to be a low scoring heat similar to their last heat together in the Volcom Pro Fiji, the result went the opposite way. Andino broke the hearts of the dedicated Portugal surf fans when he grabbed the winning score in the dying seconds of the heat. Both surfers were on the beach, Pires in the shallows in front of the huge crowd and Andino standing with the webcast crew. After waiting for what seemed like minutes for the scores, Andino was announced the winner and the disappointed crowd trudged off the beach.
While Pires was devastated, Andino was stoked.
"I don't care how I made it," Andino said of the low scoring affair. "I'm in the third round now and I'm stoked. I did feel a bit of pressure out there with such a big crowd. Every time he (Pires) stood up there was so much cheering and it was pretty hard to concentrate but they were pretty gracious, it even felt as though they were cheering me on at times too."
With the remaining four heats of round two out of the way the contest could charge ahead over the next two days. There's a huge unstable weather system in the North Atlantic that is threatening to unleash some massive waves and destructive winds along the Portugal coastline by midweek. We could be set for epic surf late in the week or a quick finish by Tuesday. Mother nature is going to decide that answer.