coffee convo Hwilsin tour talk writing WSL


Portugal is a tough event to watch live if you reside in the United States. Starting around midnight, the day is usually wrapping up around the time I’m getting ready for a surf here on the West Coast. That is bad news for my fantasy team. I like to look at the man-on-man matchups and make my picks from there. Unless I want to get up around 1:30am to make switches, I’ve got to make my picks in good faith for this event. I’m in 2 leagues this year, and I’m currently sitting in first and second place. I’ve got great expectations for this year.

Day One ran on the first day of the waiting period, taking advantage of what was on offer before a big storm is projected to roll through the area. The talks are that we will now see 3-5 lay days before we get back to competition. Here are my notes from the Men’s Opening Round.


Connor O’Leary vs. Jake Marshall vs. Cole Houshmand

I could not believe how incredibly underscored this entire heat was. First heat of the day, I get it, you have to set a scale, but the guys were fucking ripping and only getting mid-range 5’s. Obviously I wasn’t down there on the beach, but looking at the conditions they were showing on the webcast, I’m not sure what the judges were looking for. Maybe before the horn started they saw some really good waves, or really good surfing. I couldn’t tell you. In particular, there were two scores I thought were very lowballed. This blowtail combination from Jake Marshall, and this power gouge by O’Leary. 

For Marshall’s wave – he literally goes straight off the bottom and into a giant backside fin waft; no hitches. A little fade from the take off, but none of that ever-so-popular double pump off the bottom. I loved it. Blowing the fins out in the most critical section he could get to. Sure, maybe they could say the 3rd maneuver – the little foam – climb was incomplete, but those first two turns alone should have granted at least a high 5, maybe a 6 ranger, in my humble opinion.

As far as O’Leary’s wave – a 4.10? For that hammer? Show me another turn from the entire day that had as much rail in the water as that one. He couldn’t have pushed much harder, right in the juice. Not only that, but he rode straight out of the foamy section crashing on him, into a bottom turn, and directly back up vertically into the lip. He even got a closeout tap on an odd, disconnected section he had to work for. I thought the first turn alone could have been in the 4 range, with the following two adding a half point each, even if I’m holding back some. Should have been a mid range 5 or upwards. See how easy it is to judge from the couch?

Anyways, at this point, it’s clear the waves are not anything special. If you watched the entire day live, props to you. Must have been a grind. Houshmand gets his first (much needed) heat win of his rookie campaign, with Jake Marshall falling to the Elimination Round in a close one, all 3 competitors within a half point of each other. 

O’Leary. Photo: Damien Poullenot/World Surf League.


Barron Mamiya vs. Imaikalani deVault vs. Deivid Silva

Barron was on the tube hunt. He found two chips on his own peak up the beach and took the heat with a mid range total – 11.77. We only got one quick replay of the highest scoring wave of the morning from Imai, a 6.57 for a nice snap in the pocket, a big wrap-to-fin slide, and a nice closeout whack. Deivid Silva looked really sticky, as in his turns all looked – to me – like check turns. He wasn’t really extending or pushing through his turns. On his way into the Elimination Round he did get a long, running left bowl that he somehow squeezed out of.


Griffin Colapinto vs. Callum Robson vs. Matias Canhoto

I had never heard of Matias before, but he is the last minute replacement for Kelly Slater, who withdrew citing his hip. This goofyfoot kid surfs well enough. His patience and posture stood out to me. He dropped an even 5 for two well paced back side hooks, but he couldn’t find a backup. He was bailed out by the drama of the morning.

What I speak of is the interference you have already seen; Griffin having the priority blunder and burning Callum with only a minute left on the clock. The situation was – Griffin leading the heat, Callum in 2nd with priority, and Matias in a tough spot in 3rd, with 3rd priority. Callum was sticking to Matias, making sure the local couldn’t find the 4.18 he needed to advance. A set rolls through and Matias doesn’t need to do much selling to have Robson looking at the first wave. Canhoto makes his way over the top. In my opinion, both Callum and Griffin paddled for the wave. Callum, being deeper and having priority, was almost in the spot to get sucked over the back of the wave; he was right under it. Had he taken off, he would have been air dropping at the least, sliding in sideways if his fins could find some grip on the wall. Griffin is also in a good spot, albeit out on the shoulder more. He looks back and watches Callum as he has 4 or 5 paddles to get positioned under the lip. Callum pulls back literally in the lip. Griffin takes one extra paddle with his right arm before going to the rails of his board.

If both surfers were deemed to paddle, Matias should have gone straight to 1st priority, then Callum would get 2nd, since he paddled and pulled back first, and Griffin with 3rd – since he was last to paddle and pull back. About 10, maybe 11 seconds ticked off the clock between the surfers pulling back and the next wave hitting the sandbank. As Callum took off on that wave, the priority board showed him in 1st priority, with Matias in 2nd, and Griffin had no priority. Griffin then takes off on Callum, thinking the Australian must have lost priority, and he had gained 1st priority. He could be heard on a hot mic after the heat, “He paddled for the wave before right? He blocked us. I was like ‘Oh, he lost prio.’ I thought I heard the announcers say it too.” Instead, the judges must have ruled Griffin’s a paddle, and Callum’s was not. 

Colapinto loses his entire 2nd scoring wave, moving from first to last and falling to the Elimination Round. Callum and the local Canhoto move forward. 


John John Florence vs. Jacob Wilcox vs. Marco Mignot

  Pretty slow heat here. I actually thought Marco Mignot looked the most in form and in rhythm with the conditions, but he couldn’t quite stick any of the more aggressive maneuvers he was attempting. If he can start getting some completions, he could be a dangerous wildcard. I’ll keep an eye on his Elimination Round heat. 

Marco Mignot, hucking. Photo: Damien Poullenot/World Surf League.

John John was noticeably frustrated having a couple of uncharacteristic falls throughout this heat. He was literally 20 seconds away from dropping to the Elimination Round. Needing a 3.10, he snuck in a chest high left with one sharp snap and a late hit just before the buzzer. One judge had it under at a flat 3, with the other 4 judges going over. He gets the score he needs, 3.60. In a bit of a shocker, Jacob Wilcox takes the heat by showing off a strong backhand attack reminiscent of Nat Young.


Ethan Ewing vs. Rio Waida vs. Joan Duru

Up to this point, there were only 4 surfers (of 12) to get heat totals into the double digits. The judges started to catch on and raise the scale a bit. 

Ewing had a very solid wave near the start of the heat for a 6.67, tying the highest wave of the day just set in the previous heat by Wilcox. After a few pumps to get down the line, he opens with a nice snap, bottom turns around a weird warble in the flats, straight into a tight wrap with a fin toss. A bit of downtime pumping to the closeout section, where he throws the tail into the lip with a bit of a layback. His second scoring ride was also in the 6 range, even with a fall on an air attempt. Interestingly enough, he had a few of those in this heat – incomplete air attempts. We all usually think of Ewing as the rail guru, but he seemed to be sticking to a gameplan of airs. We’ll see how it plays out.

Rio Waida stuck the only air of the heat, a flat reverse on a foamy section for a 5.17. He had a couple of really close attempts that might have grabbed a big score had he rode out. Unable to do so, however, he’ll now see himself in the Elimination Round.

34 year old veteran wildcard Joan Duru took the heat win by finding the best wave of the morning. He also showed off 2 nice backhand cracks for the two highest waves of the day thus far. His 13.96 heat total proved how random the results are at this event.


Jack Robinson vs. Crosby Colapinto vs. Joaquim Chaves

5 minutes into this heat, Jack Robbo stuck that alley-oop. You know, this one. Crosby already had a low 5 on his line, so he wasn’t in a terrible spot. Joaquim is another name I had not heard before. The potential in his surfing is evident. He looked to be a bit too eager, a little too fired up. Maybe he was nervous. I think the commentators said he was only 20 years old. He was in a tough position early.

Jack made an interesting move when holding priority in paddling up the beach, away from his competitors, and using that priority on a smaller right hander. A nice “carvehack” (in the words of Turpel), followed by blowtail air reverse that was absolutely greased. It paid off for a 5.93 and a commanding lead over the field.

Crosby now needed a 9.59 to overtake the lead. Even after sticking a lofty air reverse, he would need an 8.74 to beat Jack. He was pretty safe in second though, with the wildcard kid taking off on a few subpar waves and needing an 8. Chaves would improve his scoreline a little, but Crosby never really had to sweat to get through in second. Jack with a strong win, and the local heading into the Elimination Round.


Jordy Smith vs. Matthew McGillivray vs. Kade Matson

I figured this smaller stuff wouldn’t suit Jordy very well. Kade is a pretty big kid too, but he grew up surfing beach breaks. Thing is, Supertubos isn’t really much like a California beach break. It’s more like Blacks down in San Diego; powerful. I should have factored that into my thought process.

One thing I will take the chance to say – I am not a fan of Matson’s style. At all. It’s the posture or something. My cousin once said he surfs like he has a stick up his ass, and now I can’t get that image out of my head. I know he had that back surgery or whatever though, so maybe I cut him some slack. He surfed well in this heat, enough for second place. Late in the heat he had priority, and took off on a pretty bad wave. He’ll need to clean up things like this.

McGillivray was in a bit of a funk. Aside from Griffin’s heat total (which included his interference), only 2 wildcards had a heat total lower than Matty. 

The veteran South African, however, was on the other side of the coin. This was his 150th career CT event. That is pretty heavy. He’s got to be the most experienced on Tour aside from Kelly, right? Anyways, Jordy arguably looked like the best surfer of the day; maybe the most in form. He followed up Jack Robinson’s performance with a strong showing for himself – a 13.67 heat total, vaulting himself into one of the top surfers of the day. With under a minute on the clock and well in the lead, Jordy got this insanely flowy left hander. He just looks like he’s really in the groove right now. I’m excited to see his run through this event.

Could it be? Photo: Thiago Diz/World Surf League.


Kanoa Igarashi vs. Seth Moniz vs. Eli Hanneman

Everytime I look up at the tour, I honestly wonder how the hell Seth Moniz still has a spot there. The only thing I think of is that Final he made a couple years back out at Pipe against Ol’ Man Slater. We all know he has crazy freesurf talent, I just can’t recall any other solid results. I feel like he’s always just clinging for his spot on Tour. Yet, somehow, there he is, right in the middle of the pack at number 13 as this event got underway.

Looking at this draw, 75% of fan picks went to Kanoa. If I had to predict a winner before this heat took place, I would have taken Kanoa. He actually got last and is now in the Elimination Round.

Within the first 10 minutes, Kanoa had 2 scores that could have advanced him out of a few heats today. What happened after is typical Kanoa stuff – he just tries to Kanoa his way through. We never really see him press on the gas, get out of his comfort zone and go for it. At least we haven’t seen that in a while. Even for his 2nd place result at the last event (Sunset), he’s always very measured and tactical. You will never see Kanoa fly down the line looking to score 12 points with one maneuver. So that’s what we got – a calculated Igarashi who got overtaken by a couple guys who, in theory, shouldn’t have matched up.

Seth looked pretty strong on his backhand, going up into, and through the lip on a few occasions. He seemed confident, not afraid to really kick the tail. He got the heat win.

Young Eli Hanneman would have been the darkhorse for this heat. We don’t really know what he has on offer. Everyone has seen his freesurf clips and knows about his outstanding air game, though it has yet to be on display. He squeaked through over Kanoa, slamming his chest with an awkward claim on a 5.37 he garnered by squeaking through a foamy little inside tube. Onto R32 where he has lost in both events thus far. 


Ryan Callinan vs. Miguel Pupo vs. Ramzi Boukhiam

The only heat of the day that featured all goofy footers, there is not much to note from this heat. Mention was made that this is Callinan’s 50th event on the CT. He seemed to be a bit too amped early on in this heat, not getting his first completion until it was about halfway over. It’s tough to surf back into the heat at that point. He would lose and find himself in the Elimination Round.

Ramzi seemed to stick to a plan of going right on his backhand, and one could see why. He caught a left late in the heat, and if I had to guess, he’s got a lot of work to do to keep up with the rest of the goofies on tour going left. Cloudbreak will bring this weakness to the forehand (do you like that?), if he gets there. He moved through in second. 

Miggy Pupo looked quick and confident. His board looks sharp. He never really opened up though, his turns were a bit snappy and in the pocket, similar to Deivid Silva early on. He got the heat win with a few jazzy fin blasts.


Leonardo Fiorivanti vs. Gabriel Medina vs. Sammy Pupo

Sammy must have caught some vibes from his brother in the lineup. His first wave of the heat was this giant alley-oop for an 8.33. He followed that up with a 6.67 for two crispy backhand whacks, got the heat win and the highest heat total of the day at even 15 points.

Sammy. Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League.

The shocker of the day, and the year thus far has been Gabriel Medina. He had a couple of falls, a few bad wave choices, all in all he just hasn’t looked like the elite guy we are so used to. There were a few huge backside revo attempts that he almost came down with, but when he is really in form we all know he would be sticking those. Something is off. Even after that run he had down in Puerto Rico. We’ll see if he can straighten things out.

Leonardo did just enough to advance through in second. Nothing stood out to me. Medina spent the heat trying airs and never gave LeoFio a run for second. 


Ian Gentil vs. Italo Ferreira vs. Caio Ibelli

I forgot Caio was on tour this year. By now he usually has at least one of those surprisingly great results. Everyone in the surf world wonders how the fuck he keeps doing it. You know, casual Caio. Yet, not this year. I’m starting to theorize that maybe Ibelli was actually the eye of the whole Brazilian Storm.. They say the Storm could be passing.. Without him and Jadson Andre, who can captain that ship? Will a new leader emerge to reunite this wild pack of wolves, or will they all fend for themselves, make their own way similar to one Italo Ferreira.. Time will tell.

And maybe that time is now. Caio surfed a really strong heat. He landed himself a spot in my fantasy lineup because of the showing. He took control of the heat early on with a fancy nosepick reverse for a 6.67 and never really looked back. Gentil flipped the heat for a moment while scores were dropping, but Ibelli quickly regained the lead once his backup score came in to follow. He increased his scoreline with every wave. Impressive stuff.

Aside from a stock grab air reverse that he fell on (he almost pulled it), Ian Gentil was basically glued to his board. He had a really impressive 6.73 that I thought could have gone higher. Even though he fell to the Elimination Round, Gentil looked solid.

Italo was one of the top favorites of the round (JJF 92% picks, Robbo 84% picks, Italo 81% picks), and for good reason. The 2019 World Champ has won this event twice, and also came runner up in his first go at the joint. Italo did natural Italo throwing multiple attempts into the air, luckily bringing one down on his backhand for a midrange 7. This was enough to get him through in second place.


Yago Dora vs. Liam O’Brien vs. Frederico Morais

The waves were pretty bumpy and jumbled at this stage of the day. It looked fun for an average surf, but not ideal for a CT. Frederico’s local knowledge really paid dividends as he got the heat win. He picked the cleaner waves with a couple of good sections and that was all he needed. LOB really struggled to connect with the wind torn lefts, and he was stuck with the loss. He let go of one nice snap on his forehand, but that was the highlight for the Australian. Yago Dora quietly scooted through. I heard he was absolutely tearing down in Puerto Rico, and it looks like that form could be still rolling over here. He is also on my fantasy team.

LOB’s highlight moment. Guy has great style. Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League.

So there we have it. Day one down. We’re two lay days in now, and I’ve heard we are not anticipating any great surf during the waiting period. I’ve kept that in mind whilst making my picks. I’ve already dropped a couple, but I’ll reserve the rest of my team to share once the Round of 32 gets underway. I don’t want anyone stealing my picks – I’m looking at you Escalante. Should be at least one more day off before the contest resumes. Until then, get some waves.


Drew Stanfield


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *