'Squid' Surfer from the Algarve at the podium in Lower Trestles

João Mendonça World Finalist Volcom TCT

Surfer from the Algarve João Maria Mendonça tooking the podium at Lower Trestles (®screenshot)

João Maria Mendonca reached the “Squids” finals at the Totally Crustaceous Tour Global Championships 2015/2016 in Lower Trestles, California, United States of America. The young surfer from the Algarve, Arrifana local, was the only Portuguese still in action on the last day of the championship and placed 4th in his age group, with an exhibition that caught everyone´s eye and earned him the commentators nickname “the yellow viper”.

The TCT Global Championships 2015/2016 ended Friday, the 17th of June. João Mendonça took action in the finals day at 10h00 local time (18h00 in Portugal), in the “Squids” semi-finals (10 years or less as of August 1, 2015). The young surfer from the Algarve waited two days for the semi-finals, after passing two rounds on the first day of the championship.

João Mendonça made a remarkable semi-final. With Lower Trestles at its best with “pearls” of one meter to one meter and a half high, and excellent wave formation, the surfer from the Algarve soon stood out in the ‘heat’ with a wave that earned him 6.33 points. Within a few minutes he crushed the competition with a wave worth 9.17 points, earning him the appraisals from the commentators and the nickname “the yellow viper” (referring to the color of his jersey).

João Mendonça strengthened his score with a wave of 6.90 points, leaving his opponents needing two waves to reach 1st place. Only 3 minutes from the end of the semi-final, the American Hayden Rodgers scored a 8.91points waves, making it to 2nd place and advancing with João Mendonça into the finals.

A look at the beach and the heat situation with 8,15 minutes to go in the Squids final (®screenshot)

A look at the beach and the heat situation with 8,15 minutes to go in the Squids final (®screenshot)

In the “Squids” final, João Maria Mendonça faced Kobi Clements (United States), one of the championships’ revelations, Kai Martin (USA, Hawaii) and Hayden Rodgers (USA). The surfer from the Algarve didn’t had a good start into the final, picking up three closed out waves that did not give him room to maneuver. Fifteen minutes from the start, João Mendonça’s best wave scored 3,83 points. While his opponents already had waves in the 6 and 7 points range each.

João Maria Mendonça never gave up and worked hard until the end of the final heat. It was in the heat’s final minutes that he caught a good wave with 3 maneuvers ( 7.03 points ) but he was lagging too far behind his opponents and ended up in 4th place. The final was won by Hawaiian Kai Martin (17.50 | 9.50 + 8.00), which managed to pick the best waves, working well on his backside on Trestles’ right.

From what we saw, through the webcast, João Maria Mendonça did not show lower level of surfing, on the contrary; he managed to enthuse not only the commentators but also the beach when travelling on good waves. The surfer from the Algarve missed the fight at the final because of his poor choice of waves, but gained experience and a spot on the world surfing stage.

The TCT Global Championships brought together over 240 of the best world young surfers, qualified for the global finals in rounds at their local championships. João Maria Mendonça was the only Portuguese to make it to the finals. Miguel Blanco (Pro Am) and Afonso Antunes (Groms) were eliminated on Thursday. On Wednesday, two other surfers from the Algarve, Francisco Duarte and Frederico “Martim” Magalhães, (Pro Am) and João Moreira (Juniors) had already lost. On the first day, Guilherme Ribeiro (Groms), was out of the competition.