Bobby Martinez Claims Billabong Pro Tahiti

The Billabong Pro Tahiti had an exciting finish to competition after several lay-days and saw California talent Bobby Martinez, 26, take top honors for the second time at the event when he surfed a near-flawless 18.46 out of 20 heat against fellow finalist Taj Burrow, 30, to claim the win.

Bobby Martinez (USA), 26, has claimed the 2009 Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui, defeating fellow finalist Taj Burrow (AUS), 30, in idyllic conditions in the Final.  Copyright: ASP/ CI/ ROBERTSON via GETTY IMAGESEvent No. 3 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour survived a marathon waiting period, culminating on the second-to-last available day in improving conditions that peaked for a climactic Final, with clean three-to-five foot (1.5 metre) waves at Teahupoo.

Martinez surfed a near-flawless heat, opening up with an impressive 8.73 out of a possible 10 before putting his opponent in a combination situation with a Houdini-esque 9.73 out of a possible 10. Netting the highest heat total of the event, an 18.46 out of a possible 20, Martinez claimed his second Billabong Pro Tahiti and fourth elite tour win, establishing himself as one of the premier tube-riders in the world.

“I feel great and a bit emotional,” Martinez said. “I waited for the good ones out there and just got lucky. There weren’t too many waves and I was lucky enough to get a couple of good ones and not fall. Things just seemed to work out for me today. I really don’t know what to say. It feels really special.”

The form surfer of the event, Martinez surfed the majority of his heats on borrowed equipment, having broken most of his surfboards early in the waiting period.

“I actually borrowed a board from Alain Riou (local Tahitian surfer),” Martinez said. “He rides Darren Handley shapes and the board was the same dimensions and pretty much the same board I ride.”

Martinez, who is without a major sponsor at the moment, has rocketed himself from 19th to 7th on the ASP World Tour ratings with today’s win, putting him in excellent position for the remainder of the year.

“I’m not thinking about money right now, but rather I’m thinking about the feelings I have,” Martinez said. “I didn’t start surfing to make money. I started for me, and to win today, you cannot put a price on the feelings I have. I’m really going to let it sink it and enjoy it.”

Burrow’s efforts in the Final were nothing short of spectacular, collecting an 8.17, a 7.93 and a 7.33, but they were not enough to overtake the Martinez stranglehold on the event.

“I definitely had fun but it was tricky against Bobby (Martinez),” Burrow said. “He had a dream heat. The conditions looked pretty good for your forehand because the judges like seeing you pump on your forehand in the barrel. On your backhand, you just have to park it in the pit and you can’t do much, but Bobby did everything he had to out there and deserved the win. I still had a fun Final, but hard to enjoy out there because I was in a combination situation the whole time.”

Burrow now moves into the No. 2 position on the ASP World Tour ratings, setting the Western Australian up well as he eyes up the next events.

Aritz Aranburu (EUK), 23, former ASP World No. 39, was the “Cinderella Story” at the Billabong Pro Tahiti. Having failed to advance through a heat in the opening two events of the season, the Basque Country’s first ever ASP World Tour competitor stormed past Californian sensation Dane Reynolds (USA), 23, former event winner Damien Hobgood (USA), 29, Australian veteran Tom Whitaker, 29, and reigning nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 37, en route to a Semifinals berth.

"I've had a tough draw throughout the event, but that's what has kept me motivated,” Aranburu said. “Coming up against the best guys out there, you need to lift your ability. Beating Kelly (Slater) for me is one of the biggest achievements I’ve ever had. I’ve been looking up to him for so long, and just being on tour with him is an honor. To beat him is a major achievement for me."

The career-best result was halted at the hands of eventual winner Martinez during one of the most exciting heats of the event. Despite coming up short to Martinez (15.23 to the Californian’s 17.17), Aranburu’s equal 3rd place finish boosts the European to 19th on the ASP World Tour ratings.

Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, suffered an unfortunate Round 3 loss at the Billabong Pro Tahiti, but after two event wins to open the season up, the Gold Coaster remains the frontrunner on this year’s ASP World Tour ratings.

The next stop on the 2009 ASP World Tour will be the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro in Brazil from June 27 to July 5, 2009.

Aritz Aranburu (EUK), 23, current ASP World No. 39, caused the upset of the event this morning, eliminating reigning nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 37, in Round 2 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti.  Copyright: ASP/ CI/ ROBERTSON via GETTY IMAGES
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