Words by Corinne Evans. Photos by Checkered Photography.
This isn’t my first time in Portugal but it is my first time in this part of the country, I have usually visited the Algarve region so it’s nice to head to the Lisbon region for a few days of exploring and watching the Women’s Cascais Pro competition.
Arriving here late afternoon on Wednesday felt like a dream. Stepping off the plane straight into 30c heat is always pretty special. We were picked up promptly from the airport and were soon whisked off to our first hotel of the trip Hotel Vila Gale in Ericeria.
We have been treated to a luxury room with a sea view! With the sun setting we unpacked quickly and headed out to explore the town and grab a sunset beer and dinner.
It’s safe to say we have both really have fallen in love with Ericeira. The place has a lovely sleepy fishing village vibe to it. With a quaint town just behind the tiny harbour, filled with lovely restaurants and bars down white cobble stone back streets. We have eaten some delicious food and indulged in the local wine and beer. The prices over here are extremely reasonable for both tourists and locals.
I feel this time of year is a great time to come, there’s a lovely mix of locals and travellers without it feeling like a tourist town. I am sure in the summer months this place can get pretty hectic but with the winter swells rolling through and the summer sun still hanging on I would say Portugal is a must this time of year!
Every local we have come across have been so very welcoming and happy to help with any questions we had about the area. It almost feels like home already and we have only been here two nights!
Our first full day was spent reporting from the Cascais Women’s Pro, which was a 50-minute drive from our hotel. We had a World Surf League driver come and pick us up and take us straight to contest site where we were met my the media team. In all honesty I was a little nervous about this, I felt like it might be a bit overwhelming and stressful but I couldn’t of been more wrong. The competition felt so relaxed and ran extremely smoothly.
With a solid swell rolling in and light offshore winds I knew finals day at the Cascais Women’s Pro was going to be an amazing first event to report from. The punchy beach break waves proved perfect for the women’s surfing elite to showcase why they are they best in the world.
Arriving a little late to the event we only got to watch the semi final heats, so I picked my spot, applied some sun cream and sent Checkered Photography off down the beach to get some shots of the women in action.
Tyler Wright and Joanne Defay were in the first and what a heat that was! With Tyler stamping her mark on the event straight off the back. She looked solid on the waves, preforming powerful turns on the peeling 4ft rights that rolled through. Joanne struggled to keep up with Tyler and couldn’t seem to find another back up score, needing a 9.0 to take the lead.
Up next were Courtney Conlogue and Coco Ho, it’s safe to say that Courtney wasn’t hanging around. Here technical and powerful surfing made the heat so easy to watch. It was exciting from start to finish with Coco and Courtney exchanging scores throughout the heat. The focused and fierce competitor that is Courtney managed to sneak in a forehand barrel, which took her well into the lead, scoring a 9.33 for her near perfect ride.
With Courtney into the final the chance for Tyler to take the World title in Portugal disappeared. However the fight was still on and it was soon time for the two world tour leaders to battle it out for the title of the Cascais Women’s Pro Champion 2016.
With the conditions looking a little tricky Tyler and Courtney were surfing what felt like at other ends of the beach making it hard to watch both competitors. However it was clear to see that Courtney had the upper hand. With the some solid scores under her belt, with Tyler needing a combination score of 13.17 to take the win. Courtney defended her title for another year and now all eyes are on the last two events of the year to watch the top two women battle it out for the World tour title!
It felt so amazing to get to watch these amazing athlete’s surf right before our eyes. Sometimes watching them online doesn’t do their surfing justice, so getting the chance to watch then negotiate the waves, prep for their heat and even how they handle all the press attention felt pretty cool. Next stop France, who will take the win at the Roxy Pro in Hossegor? I can’t wait to find out.