Tiago Pires Withdraws From Rip Curl Pro Portugal

Peniche, Portugal – The world’s best surfers have arrived at the picturesque Portuguese fishing village of Peniche and are preparing to do battle in the iconic beachbreak barrels of Supertubos for the 2013 Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal, the penultimate stop of the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour, to be held October 9 – 20.

The drama kicks off on Tuesday, October 8th, with the Moche Wildcard Trials, which will see 16 of Europe's best surfers vie for the final wildcard berth into the main event. Following is the full list of surfers competing in the Moche Trials:
1 Tomás Hermes
2 Marlon Lipke
3 Nic Von Rupp
4 Vasco Ribeiro
5 José Ferreira
6 Jacob Willcox
7 Ruben Gonzalez
8 Filipe Jervis
9 João Guedes
10 Miguel Blanco
11 Jayce Robinson
12 Tomás Fernandes
13 Guilherme Fonseca
15 PV Laborde
16 TBA

On Sunday, Portuguese national surfing hero and ASP Top 34 surfer Tiago Pires announced that he will not compete in Peniche because of an ongoing knee injury. He will be replaced by reigning Portuguese national champ Frederico Morais. Morais will be joined by fellow countryman and 19-year-old rising Portuguese star Francisco Alves, who also received an injury wildcard into the main event, replacing Dusty Payne (Hawaii). Alves, from nearby Costa Da Caparica in Lisbon, is arguably the most experienced Supertubos surfers in the draw.

"I had the chance to compete at Supertubos during the (Portuguese) Nationals events so I feel that I got some experience from a young age there," Alves said. "It feels like home but the waves are really tricky and anyone can get a 10 at any time, so it’s a really exciting wave for everyone."

This will be Alves’ second time competing in the main event of the Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal. In 2011 Alves received a last-minute injury wildcard into the main event when he was just 17. He was eliminated by Taj Burrow in Round 2, but gained valuable experience from the opportunity.

"It’s hard to tell because every year the waves are so different, but for sure I’ve learned a lot of things about the waves at Supertubos," Alves said. "I have really good memories of the year I got into the main event, so Supertubos will always be a special place for me. It should be really exciting to be a part of all that and an amazing experience to be surfing on the same stage as the world’s best again."

For Alves, a berth into the 2013 Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal also means the opportunity to gain valuable points towards the inaugural Portuguese Wave Series Cascais Trophy. The 2013 Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal represents the second stop of the Portuguese Wave Series Cascais Trophy, already being hailed as the "Triple Crown of European Surfing." The trio of events is the largest ASP surfing series in Europe's history and boasts an additional $50,000 USD prize money up for grabs, awarded to the surfer who achieves the best two results from the following three ASP events: The SATA Airlines Azores Pro (PRIME), the Rip Curl Pro Portugal by Moche (WCT) and the Cascais Billabong Pro (PRIME). Each event will have an equal pointing system.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on 2013 ASP World Title frontrunner Mick Fanning, 32, (Australia), who heads to Portugal fresh off a thrilling victory at the previous WCT Tour stop in France. Fanning, a two-time ASP world champion, has now built a 6,000-point lead over 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, 41, (USA), currently in second place on the WCT Tour ratings, and sits a whopping 12,200 points ahead of Jordy Smith, 25, (South Africa), currently in third place.

"The pressure is on in the back half of the year for me to not only maintain consistency but to break into finals and challenge for wins," Fanning said. "The expectations I’ll have on myself going into Portugal are going to be big. I wanna win that thing again!"

Given his current ratings lead, and with the Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal being event 9 out of 10 on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour, Fanning could potentially clinch his third ASP world title in Portugal. With the title race between Fanning and Slater on the line in Peniche, a healthy dose of world title drama will certainly be added to the hopefully epic conditions at Supertubos.

"Portugal is one of the great recent additions to the ASP World Tour," Fanning said. "The waves have always come on for the event and hopefully the 2013 edition is no different. Having taken out the very first Rip Curl Pro event at Peniche, this contest holds special significance for me. I love getting back there and surfing in front of the huge psyching crowds and catching up with all the good mates I’ve made in the area. I can’t wait."

The 2013 Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal will be webcast live at live.ripcurl.com as well as via the Rip Curl Live Events App for iPhone.

A pre-event press conference will be open to all accredited media on Tuesday, October 8th, at 5 pm at the High Performance Surf Center in Peniche. Several of the ASP Top 34 surfers will be in attendance, as well as the mayors of Peniche and Cascais.