With such big points on the line, it appears the waves will be quite small throughout the entirety of the Billabong Pro Cascais waiting period. According to the current forecast model, there will be similar conditions to those the women just had to fight through during the finale of their Championship Tour stop in Portugal.
The men’s QS 10,000 event is the first of just two such contests remaining before the Triple Crown swings through Hawaii adding two more to end the season. Such a pivotal stop for so many world tour hopefuls means they will have to be creative and mistake-free when riding the knee slappers and waist-high waves that appear to be dominating the forecast.
The end of the women’s event consisted of waves that required some white water navigation and maybe one big snap on a close out. They could wait out the entire 30-minute heat hoping to find a wave with some open face. Finalist Lakey Peterson, who finished runner-up to new CT points leader Courtney Conlogue, stated that they probably wouldn’t even have headed out for a free surf in those conditions.
But the men will have to make do with the best of the swell looking to fill in Thursday morning (which is tonight for our purposes). With the CT over in Europe for the next month, many of those close to the world tour cut line are in this Cascais field. It’s hard to pick any favorites with the waves so unpredictable.
Hoping to pile on to his best result this season is Sebastian Zietz. Seabass reached the semifinals at the Azores Pro, good for 6,500 points and a 65-spot bump up the QS rankings. Another similar result would put him right back near the cut line. As a former Triple Crown winner, he’d have to love that position with contests at Haleiwa and Sunset Beach still to come.
Zietz enters Cascais as one of the top seeds. His portion of the draw seems to be fairly favorable, though four-man heats in small conditions are as dicey as it gets. One poor wave selection or one fall could mean the difference between a deep run and a first-round exit.
The toughest part of the draw seems to be the very bottom where just about every name is one who could conceivably take home the trophy. This section includes Dion Atkinson, Wiggolly Dantas, Alejo Muniz, Kanoa Igarashi, Josh Moniz, Ezekiel Lau, Glenn Hall, Michael February, Tiago Pires and Yadin Nicol. At least a pair from that group and probably more won’t even make it out of the Round of 96.
At 12 hours ahead in Portugal, action can be seen live on Oceanic Surf channels 250 and 1250 into the morning’s wee hours.
WONG MAINTAINING A HOT BAT: As I noted last week, Kolten Wong has begun to regain his early-season form at the plate. He still hasn’t homered since July 27, but he’s 4 for his last 10 and hitting .283 since Sept. 13.
Oddly, he’s become a non-factor on the base paths. He has just one stolen base in 35 games. That’s partly from not getting on base quite as much, but he’s just not running frequently. He had been one of the team’s biggest contributors with 15 of the Cardinals’ 68 steals for the season. We’ll see if St. Louis ramps up the aggression in the postseason, which is now less than a week away.