Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 1: Dean Morrison Takes Lead
Dean Morrison took top honors after elimination round 1, at the Billabong Pro Tahiti. The third stop on the 2009 ASP World Tour saw pulsing four-to-six foot (two-metre) barrels at Teahupoo.
Dean Morrison (AUS), 28, current ASP World No. 19, took today’s top honors as he displayed sensational form for his Round 1 win over 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie Nathaniel Curran (USA), 24. The Australian exhibited a preternatural rapport with the ledging Teahupoo lefthanders, netting an excellent 9.00 out of a possible 10 single-wave score en route to the highest heat total of the day (a 17.00 out of a possible 20).
“I just try to position myself well and try to get the set waves or rather the best one in the set,” Morrison said. “Just try to read it right and get deep in the tube. The secret is actually not taking off at the peak, but a little behind the peak so that you can edge into it. Just take off and hold on – that’s all you can do.”
In addition to putting up the biggest scores of the day, Morrison also entertained the throngs of spectators in the channel with the most spectacular wipeout of the round, a late drop to cart-wheeling inside the tube before being blasted towards the shallow reef.
Recovering from a devastating hip injury that saw Morrison sit out the last several events of the 2008 ASP World Tour season, the progressive natural-footer is on the mend and looking to claw himself back to the top of the ASP Top 45 ratings. Despite a disappointing equal 33rd place finish at the opening event of the season, Morrison has since rebounded, collecting an equal 9th at the second event before putting in today’s sterling performance.
“My recovery has been pretty good,” Morrison said. “The last few months, that’s been my main focus, rehabbing. It’s been hard work, but it’s been worth it. I still don’t feel like I’m surfing at 100%, but I am getting there and I feel like I’m getting stronger every day.”
Andy Irons (HAW), 30, former three-time ASP World Champion, is on sabbatical from full-time competition this season, but accepted a wildcard into the Billabong Pro Tahiti, where the powerful Hawaiian dispatched of Brazilian Jihad Khodr, 25, convincingly, netting an impressive 8.67 out of a possible 10 for a sizzling backhand pit
Irons, a past winner at the Billabong Pro Tahiti (2002), will face last year’s ASP World Tour Runner-Up Bede Durbidge (AUS), 26, in Round 2 when competition recommences.
Heiarii Williams (PYF), 22, Von Zipper Trials winner and wildcard in the Billabong Pro Tahiti, continued his devastating roll today, ousting 2009 ASP World Tour rookie and current ASP World No. 9, Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), 23, in Round 1 of competition.
Williams will take on current ASP World No. 1 Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, in Round 2 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti.
Kai Otton (AUS), 29, current ASP World No. 19, eliminated defending Billabong Pro Tahiti winner Bruno Santos (BRA), 26, from competition in a hard-fought Round 1 battle. The two goofy-footers went toe-to-toe in one of the more exciting heats of the day, with Otton besting the Brazilian 14.40 to 12.60.
Otton will face Taylor Knox (USA), 37, in Round 2 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti when competition resumes.
Marlon Lipke (DEU), 25, 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie and the first German national to ever contest at the elite level of surfing, finally found his feet today, posting his first ever ASP Dream Tour win over fellow rookie Drew Courtney (AUS), 30.
Lipke’s bold forehand approach saw the young goofy-footer collect strong scores of a 7.17 and a 7.83, blending excellent wave sense and tube knowledge with aggressive carves and top turns, as he advanced into Round 2.
“It’s beautiful,” Lipke said. “I think the swell is coming in Easterly so it’s not perfect, but the ones that come through are outstanding. It’s an incredible thing to be here at the Billabong Pro Tahiti, getting barreled and advancing through my heat.”
Lipke will face standout ASP Dream Tour veteran Taj Burrow (AUS), 30, in Round 2 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti when competition recommences.
Sunday's competition of the Billabong Pro Tahiti in Teahupoo was called off for the day, with lumpy four-foot (1.5 metre) swell and onshore winds replacing the near-perfection of Saturday.
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