Woods Leads Strong International Contingent Towards Business End in Portugal

CASCAIS, Portugal (Thursday, July 31, 2008) – The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) WQS Women’s 6-Star Billabong Cascais Girls Festival enjoyed a great opening day of stunning action at the beach of Guincho in Cascais, Portugal.

Some consistent four-to-five foot (1.2 to 1.5 meter) waves and beautiful weather allowed officials to run 28 heats and reach the much awaited one-on-one Quarterfinals that will feature four duels when proceedings resume.

Current ASP Women’s World Tour campaigners put on sensational performances to defeat all European competitors in the event today and reach Quarterfinals of the ASP WQS Women’s 6-Star event.

Rebecca Woods (AUS), rated No. 9 on the ASP WQS Women’s ratings going into Stop No. 9 of 14, was the most consistent competitor throughout the day posting several excellent scores including an impressive 17.00 point heat tally (out of a possible 20) in Round 2.

“I am really happy with today after a couple of seriously bad heats recently,” Woods said. “There were a lot of waves coming in and I got some good ones. The waves were fun all day and I am really having a good time in Portugal.”

Woods, who has been among the ASP Top 17 for four years now, came to Portugal relaxed and willing to enjoy her first trip ever to Portugal. She will meet last-second qualifier Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) in Quarterfinal No. 3.

“I am tired of thinking of ratings as I have done for four years,” Woods said. “I decided to let go a bit and have fun and enjoy my time competing. I am still looking forward to keep going in the event.”

Rebecca Woods. Photo coutesy Aquashot/ASPEurope.com

Woods posted three of the Top 6 heat scores of the event today and will be a serious contender for the crown if the swell remains as consistent.

Jacqueline Silva (BRA), last year’s ASP WQS Women’s Champion and current Dream Tour competitor, was another standout during Day 1 of competition at Gunicho.

Silva, who has had a difficult year not placing better than equal 9th in all events comprised, came to Portugal with the strong will to move forward and get some wins.

“I am so happy to reach the Quarterfinals”, Silva said. “I have been having shockers all year and never got through Round 4 so it is a big relief to make all these heats today. I am very tired though.”

Silva, currently rated No. 15 on the ASP WQS Women’s ratings, will meet other in-form surfer of the day Laurina MacGrath (AUS) in a much anticipated Quarterfinal No. 1.

“It is already a great result and I will take it heat-by-heat tomorrow,” Silva said. “I love coming to Europe. I won the event in Newquay last year and I feel good here in Portugal. Waves are fun and I will be ready for Quarterfinals tomorrow.”

The European contingent suffered heavy losses throughout the day and Pauline Ado (FRA) was the only regional competitor to reach Round 4 before stepping down to Airini Mason (NZL) and Silva.

Ado, 17, reigning ASP European Pro Junior Champion and rated No. 36 with two results only thus far including a superb runner-up finish the the ASP WQS Women’s 5-Star event in South Africa in early July, could not counter her opponent’s assault in Round 4 after securing two solid wins in Rounds 2 and 3.

“I was stoked to get good waves and win these two heats,” Ado said. “I had a close one in Round 2 with Jessi (Miley-Dyer) coming back with a solid score in the last minutes but I was confident.”

Ado, who bested Quarterfinalist and current ASP Top 17 campaigner Karina Petroni (USA) in Round 3, was in good form all day but was not able to catch up with her heat leaders and left the event with 1250 valuable ratings’ points.

“I missed the first half of the year because I had school obligations so I don’t have any pressure ratings wise,” Ado said. “I am still doing as many ASP Pro Junior events as I can and am looking forward to qualifying for the ASP World Junior Championships this year again. The AP WQS is a way for me to gain experience and keep learning.”

Alana Blanchard (Kawai, HAW), 18, is the second youngest Quarterfinalist in the event and will surf in Heat 4 against experienced Dream Tour Australian Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS). Blanchard, who got through three rounds today with wins over local Joana Rocha (PRT), Jessica Hickson (AUS) and Rosanne Hodge (ZAF), created the upset of the day when she eliminated fellow Hawaiian and longtime elite surfer Megan Abubo (HAW).

“I love it here and people are very friendly in Portugal,” Blanchard said. “The waves were tricky but it went well for me and I had some good fun surfing today. I am happy with this first day.”

Blanchard, who is seen as one of Hawaii’s most promising surfers, was rated No. 6 before the Billabong Cascais Girls Festival and is focused on qualifying for next year’s ASP Women’s World Tour.

“I really want to get up there on the ASP World Tour this year,” Blanchard said. “It is my main goal and I hope I can win this event to climb up the ratings.”

Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) and Airini Mason (NZL) also advanced today and will be surfing when competition resumes.

All remaining competitors will meet at 8 a.m. (GMT+1) tomorrow Friday, August 1, 2008 at Guincho.

UPCOMING QUARTERFINALS (1st advances)
Heat 1:
Laurina MacGrath (AUS) Vs Jacqueline Silva (BRA)
Heat 2: Karina Petroni (USA) Vs Airini Mason (NZL)
Heat 3: Rebecca Woods (AUS) Vs Rosanne Hodge (ZAf)
Heat 4: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) Vs Alana Blanchard (HAW)

ROUND 4 RESULTS (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1:
Laurina MacGrath (AUS) 11.30 pts, Karina Petroni (USA) 10.25 pts, Kyla Langen (USA) 10.25 pts
Heat 2: Airini Mason (NZL) 13.75 pts, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 12.50 pts, Pauline Ado (FRA) 11.90 pts
Heat 3: Rebecca Woods (AUS) 15,25 pts, Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 12.75 pts, Paige Hareb (NZL) 7.90 pts
Heat 4: Alana Blanchard (HAW) 11.80 pts, Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 9.85 pts, Megan Abubo (HAW) 9.50 pts

ROUND 3 RESULTS (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1:
Laurina McGrath (AUS) 15.75 pts, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 13.25 pts, Serena Brooke (AUS) 7.20 pts, Caroline Sarran (FRA) 4.65 pts
Heat 2: Kyla Langen (USA) 12.15 pts, Airini Mason (NZL) 11.45 pts, Amee Donohoe (AUS) 11.20 pts, Claire Bevilacqua (BRA) 8.75 pts
Heat 3: Pauline Ado (FRA) 12.75 pts, Karina Petroni (USA), Marina Werneck (BRA) 9.75 pts, Justine Dupont (FRA) 4.50 pts
Heat 4: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 13.75 pts, Megan Abubo (HAW) 10.75 pts, Bethany Hamilton (HAW) 9.90 pts, Tarryn Chudleigh (ZAF) 6.00 pts
Heat 5: Rebecca Woods (AUS) 14.50 pts, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 10.50 pts, Jessica Hickson (AUS) 8.15 pts, Rebecca Oakley (AUS) 7.10 pts
Heat 6: Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 12.75 pts, Paige Hareb (NZL) 10.95 pts, Nicola Atherton (AUS) 8.35 pts, Tammy Lee Smith (ZAF) 7.30 pts

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