TEAHUPOO, Tahiti (Wednesday, May 13, 2009, Thursday in Australia) – The Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui navigated challenging weather patterns today, completing eight heats amidst varying wind and swell conditions.
Stop No. 3 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Tahiti ran the final two heats of Round 1 today before the opening six heats of Round 2 despite putting competition on hold at various points to wait out inclement weather.
“It was definitely a struggle out there today and I wasn’t very happy with what the weather was doing,” Luke Egan, Billabong Pro Contest Director, said. “The winds and swell were shifting quite a bit this morning which was frustrating, but the afternoons have been providing the best windows for running the contest so thankfully we were able to pick off a few heats at the end of the day.”
Despite the challenges faced today, the world’s best surfers logged some excellent performances.
Taj Burrow (AUS), 30, current ASP World No. 7, netted the day’s highest heat total of a 15.33 out of a possible 20, comboing his opponent Marlon Lipke (DEU), 25, with razor-sharp backhand tube sense en route to his Round 2 heat win.
“I actually thought Marlon (Lipke) started out with a really good one and that made me pretty nervous,” Burrow said. “I guess he wasn’t able to get deep enough and didn’t really get the score though. After that, I just had to select the ones that let me get in the tube long enough and was able to grab a couple of 7’s so it turned out well for me.”
Despite opening up the season with an equal 3rd, Burrow stumbled at Bells Beach with an equal 17th. The perennial ASP World Title contender will look to rebound in Tahiti, a venue that has historically been difficult for him.
“I’ve had an up and down start to this season,” Burrow said. “Went well on the Gold Coast and was unlucky at Bells and now we’re here at Teahupoo. I haven’t got a result out here in a few years, but I’m staying up the road at Papara with the Riou family and I’ve been putting some time into this event so hopefully it pays off.”
Burrow will face ASP Dream Tour veteran Kieren Perrow (AUS), 32, in Round 3 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti
Josh Kerr (AUS), 25, into his second jaunt on the elite ASP World Tour, caused the upset of the day, eliminating current ASP World No. 3 Fred Patacchia (HAW), 27, in the dying moments of their Round 2 bout. After sitting with priority for over 10 minutes, Kerr steamrolled through a backhand double barrel to get the highest single-wave score of the day, an 8.83 out of a possible 10, and come away with the win.
“It was a long wait being patient and there wasn’t really anything coming through,” Kerr said. “I was losing it a bit out there, but thankfully, I had priority when that set came through and the wave I took was the good one. I got the score and am stoked to move through.”
Kerr will battle Michael Campbell (AUS), 35, in Round 3 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti.
C.J. Hobgood (USA), 29, former ASP World Champion (2001) and past winner at the Billabong Pro Tahiti (2004), dominated the opening heat of Round 2 today, netting a 14.50 out of a possible 20 to eliminate Phillip MacDonald (AUS), 30, from Billabong Pro Tahiti competition.
“Phil (MacDonald) and I had a free surf before and it was sunny and we got some fun ones then when we started the heat, the squall hit us,” Hobgood said. “He (MacDonald) sat there waiting for a wave that never came and I notched up some backup scores. You never want to win heat like that. It was unfortunate for him, but at the end of the day, that’s professional surfing sometimes.”
Currently rated No. 5 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, Hobgood is in an excellent position to capitalize at the infamous lefthanders of Teahupoo.
“I look forward to coming here every year and Tahiti is definitely one of my favorite stops on tour,” Hobgood said. “I’ve had a pretty good start to the year, but it’s going to take a lot to catch Joel (Parkinson) at this point. I’m hoping for a good result here.”
Hobgood will take on Jay Thompson (AUS), 25, in Round 3 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti.
Thompson, first replacement surfer on the ASP World Tour and current ASP World No. 14, continued his roll this season, eliminating dangerous young gun Jeremy Flores (FRA), 21, in Round 2 of competition today. Thompson secured the highest single-wave score of the day, an 8.83 out of a possible 10, for an excellent backhand pit.
“Jeremy (Flores) can be really, really dangerous out here,” Thompson said. “He’s spent a lot of time in Tahiti and knows the wave really well so I wasn’t taking him lightly at all. It’s pretty difficult out there, but you can still pick a couple in between the wind and rain. Fortunately for me, that one at the end really opened up and allowed me to get through.”
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 6:30am to assess conditions for a possible 7:30am start.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, are calling for a moderate WSW swell to continue through the next couple of days, with projected favorable winds for tomorrow.
When competition resumes, up first will be Taylor Knox (USA), 27, up against Kai Otton (AUS), 29, in Heat 7 of Round 2.
Highlights from today’s Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui will be available via www.billabongpro.com
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
REMAINING BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 15: Heitor Alves (BRA) 15.00 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.00
Heat 16: Mick Campbell (AUS) 15.84 def. Roy Powers (AUS) 5.87
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.50 def. Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 0.77
Heat 2: Jay Thompson (AUS) 13.83 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.37
Heat 3: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 11.50 def. Tim Reyes (USA) 11.50
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.33 def. Marlon Lipke (DEU) 6.67
Heat 5: Josh Kerr (AUS) 15.16 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 14.50
Heat 6: Michael Campbell (AUS) 13.66 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.84
REMAINING BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 7: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Heiarii Williams (PYF)
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Andy Irons (HAW)
Heat 10: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Dayyan Neve (AUS)
Heat 11: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Dustin Barca (HAW)
Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Heitor Alves (BRA)
Heat 13: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Aritz Aranburu (EUK)
Heat 14: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Dean Morrison (AUS)
Heat 15: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Ben Dunn (AUS)
Heat 16: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Tim Boal (FRA)