The world’s best surfers tackled solid six-to-eight foot plus (2 – 2.5 metre plus) waves at the infamous lefthander of Teahupo’o yesterday but the day saw some major upsets in the 2011 ASP World Title Race with three of the Top 5 eliminated in Round 2 of competition.
The Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui completed Round 2 and the opening three heats of Round 3.
Brett Simpson (US), 26, current ASP World No. 31, caused the biggest upset when he dispatched the current frontrunner in the 2011 ASP World Title, Joel Parkinson (Parko) (AUS), 30, in Round 2 of competition.
“I was just trying to surf my own heat and ignore talk about the swell or the ratings, and was hoping I’d be in it at the end. Parko is no easy draw and it’s one of my better heat wins of the year so I’m stoked,” Simpson said.
With the loss, Parkinson has relinquished his position as frontrunner on the ASP World Title rankings.
Ricardo dos Santos (BRA) caused another major upset int the morning, sending current No 5 on the ASP World Title rankings, Taj Burrow (AUS), 32, packing in Round 2 of competition.
Jeremy Flores (FRA), 23, current No. 15 on the 2011 ASP World Title rankings, proved to be the most in-form surfer of the day, surviving the opening heat of the morning in terrifying conditions against local wildcard Heiarii Williams (PYF) before besting lethal replacement surfer Cory Lopez (USA), 34, in Round 3 of competition.
“This morning was one of the gnarliest heats I’ve ever had in my life,”Flores said. “I was sitting out there with Heiarii (Williams), who is one of the best heavy wave surfers ever, and he got an incredible wipeout. It’s not perfect, it’s windy and it’s messy and it’s scary. I spent a lot of time underwater in that morning heat and I hit the reef and I was just happy to survive the lineup.”
The Frenchman would go on to post the highest heat total of the event, an 18.93 out of a possible 20, in his afternoon Round 3 heat, exhibiting a masterful display of backhand bravado.
Raoni Monteiro (BRA), 29, current ASP World No. 25, scored the first Perfect 10 of the event yesterday morning navigating a backless eight-foot (2.5 metre) monster from the south end of the point through the west bowl to the eruption of applause and hoots from the hundreds in the channel. The fearless Brazilian was exuberant after his Round 2 victory.
“That’s amazing,” Monteiro beamed. “It’s the best feeling ever – it’s like winning a contest. I can’t really describe that wave. I just paddled as hard as I could and when I got in, I saw it hit the west bowl and I just grabbed my rail and pumped as hard as I could. When I came out and heard it was a Perfect 10.”
Kai Otton (AUS), 31, would go on to post the second Perfect 10 of the event on the opening ride of his Round 3 bout against an in-form Adrian Buchan (AUS), 28. Following Otton’s Houdini-esque forehand barrel to start, the powerful goofy-footer would hang in for the win and advance directly to Round 4.
Josh Kerr (AUS), 27, survived the shootout of the event in the afternoon in Round 3, going blow-for-blow against an inspired performance from 2011 ASP Dream Tour rookie Julian Wilson (AUS), 22. While the youngster jumped out to an early lead with a near-perfect 9.67 on his opening ride, but it was Kerr who would answer back with his own 9.70 out of a possible 10 at the end of the heat to take the win and advance through to Round 4.
Michel Bourez (PYF), 25, current No. 7 on the ASP World Title Rankings, used his superior local knowledge to thread some impressive barrels on his backhand, netting a 17.04 out of a possible 20, en route to Round 3. “I don’t really think about the pressure of being from Tahiti when I’m in the water,” Bourez said.
“It’s my third year on tour so I’ve figured out to deal with stress. I take the event at Teahupo’o the same as if I were at Snapper or J-Bay.”
Facing Dusty Payne (HAW), 22, in Round 3 of competition, Bourez opted to postpone their clash to allow Payne time to heal after he suffered a severe injury to his knee during a training session last night.
When competition resumes, up first will be Michel Bourez (PYF), 25, up against Dusty Payne (HAW), 22, in Heat 4 of Round 3.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, say another solid SSW swell could move in on Monday, before easing Tuesday. Moderate E trades prevail Saturday before backing down by the end of the weekend, with very light wind possible early next week.
Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.67 def. Heiarii Williams (PYF) 0.17
Heat 2: Ricardo dos Santos (BRA) 14.50 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 8.50
Heat 3: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 17.10 def. Gabe Kling (USA) 6.60
Heat 4: Owen Wright (AUS) 11.50 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 1.83
Heat 5: Brett Simpson (US) 13.34 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.33
Heat 6: Josh Kerr (AUS) 15.60 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 6.60
Heat 7: Michel Bourez (PYF) 17. 04 def. Daniel Ross (AUS) 10.86
Heat 8: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 15.17 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.67
Heat 9: Tiago Pires (PRT) 8.77 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 4.83
Heat 10: Jadson Andre (BRA) 7.40 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 6.53
Heat 11: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.76 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 11.10
Heat 12: Chris Davidson (AUS) 15.73 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 8.67
Billabong pro Tahiti round 3 results:
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 18.63 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 8.96
Heat 2: Josh Kerr (AUS) 17.70 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.87
Heat 3: Kai Otton (AUS) 13.60 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.33
Billabong Pro Tahiti Remaining Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 4: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 5: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (US) vs. Ricardo dos Santos (BRA)
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 8: Chris Davidson (AUS) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 9: Damien Hobgood (US) vs. Brett Simpson
Heat 10: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 11: C.J. Hobgood (US) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
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