We tracked down WQS competitor and SWELL team rider Ryah Arthur and asked him some questions about his whereabouts and the next WCT event in Portugal.
Ryah has been living in Europe for the past couple of months, competing on the ASP World Qualifying Tour and soaking up the local culture.
Photo: Charlie Garcia Photography
SWELL: Where have you competed so far for the WQS?
Ryah Arthur: My first stop was the Sooruz Lacanau Pro, which is a 6 Star WQS event in France. After that I traveled to the northern part of Spain for the Movie Star Pantin Classic, which was also a 6 Star WQS event. After that I traveled back down to the southern part of Spain for the San Miguel Pro in Zarautz, which was also a 6 star WQS event. And now I am in Portugal after the contest in Figuera.
How has it been living abroad?
I have been getting some of the best waves of my life. Also it’s been such an amazing feeling learning and being a part of another culture as well. It’s really nice to have a change like this, but it really makes me appreciate my home and how good we have it in the States.
How has the surf been for the various comps?
All of these events had a similar story; the waves were very small and very bad, at least for the opening rounds of each event.
At a lot of these events you probably start to see the same faces. Do you get along well with the other surfers on the ‘QS or is there a lot of rivalry among competitors?
I have been traveling with a group of guys that we call the “doggie crew”. Competing on the WQS you have to have a good solid crew to travel with, it sucks traveling by yourself and if you are with someone you don’t get along with, it just makes everything harder. I have been blessed with having one of the sickest crews on tour, a true international squad. We all get along great and have a blast traveling, surfing, and living life on tour.
International, eh? Who’s in the crew?
Freddie Meadows from Sweden, Omer Bar from Israel, Klee Stratchan from South Africa, Manuel Selman from Chile and I, of course, am from the States. Manfred Adrio is another South African who joined the crew and traveled to Portugal with us.
How was the contest in Portugal? How far is it from the Rip Curl Pro in Peniche?
Portugal is an amazing place with amazing waves, unfortunately for us the waves were again small for the contest in Figuera and no one out of the crew had a good result. The WCT Rip Curl Pro event is taking place just an hour north of us.
Do you guys pay close attention to the Championship Tour out there?
We on the ‘QS are always closely following all the WCT events because that is the surfing that we need to be doing and those are guys that we will hopefully be competing against one day. Everyone’s goal on the WQS is to qualify for the WCT, it’s what we are here for. So when this WCT event starts up I am going to be there every day watching and taking notes.
Whats your take on the new CT format?
I think the new WCT format is really cool… less surfers and better surfing. The three-man round 4 heat is really cool because no matter how you place you’re still in the event –The winner goes straight to the quarters and the bottom two go to round 5. With this new format the surfers can let loose more and surf better. Also you can run the entire event in three days which is better since most swells only last 3 days, not 4.
Do you have any insight on the next tour event in Peniche?
The main venue, Supertubos, is a beach break closely compared to Puerto Escondido in Mexico. It’s a very heavy beach break that’s known for it’s good shape and occasional giant and consistent barrels when the right swell and wind is on tap.
Who do you think will do well in the event?
Last year Mick Fanning won the event and he also just won the last WCT event in France, he is looking like the in-form surfer in the moment and will be one to watch at this event. You can’t overlook 9 times world champ Kelly Slater though, who is currently #1 on the world tour and came second to Fanning in France last week. These two I’m betting will meet in the final again. Tiago Pires is the lone Portuguese surfer on the WCT and all of Portugal is behind him. I wouldn’t doubt seeing a huge result from him at this contest since it’s his home break and he is fantastic in big barrels.
Can the infrastructure of Portugal accommodate the tour event?
Portugal definitely has and infrastucture capable of accommodating a tour event. Last year the event was huge and almost the entire population of portugal showed up to watch.
What are some local delicacies (food, customs, local beer, etc.) that makes Portugal different?
The food is amazing here. The Portuguese are really big on seafood so you get a lot of fresh fish and shellfish which is great. Also they’re big in the pastry department and they have some unique pastries that are insane. The two main Portuguese beers are Sagres and Super Bock. Both are actually pretty good… High quality beer at a great price.
Have you learned any portuguese phrases?
Portuguese is the hardest language I’ve come across in my entire life. The only thing I have been able to learn is “Obrigado” which is thank you.
What are the vibes like out in the water? lot of draggers?
Vibes are ok over here, a lot of the time the locals get bummed when someone they’ve never seen before shows up to there local break and surfs better than them. They tend to get kind of eggy, but I just try and smile and say Hi. Generally their attitude turns and they smile back.
At some of the slabbier waves there are a ton of dick draggers. They are always really annoying no matter where you are in the world so you just have to deal with it, surf, and have fun.
A lot of the ‘CT guys are talking about getting tons of sand in their suits, what’s that all about?
The main wave of the event is “Supertubos” which breaks super hard, right on the sand. Generally when you wipe out there you get thrown to the bottom and come up with sand everywhere. You’ll find it all in your suit, ears, hair… You can take some serious beatings there.
Surf starting to fill in or what?
There is a huge storm at the moment and there is supposed to be a 15-20 ft swell coming in tonight so yea waves are filling in quick!
watch the event live at http://live.ripcurl.com/?Portugal2010