Upsets and Action Abound as Billabong Pro Tahiti Reignites at Teahupoo
Following four consecutive lay days, the Billabong Pro Tahiti roared back to life Monday morning, with the world’s best surfers tackling the three-to-four foot (1 – 1.5 metre) waves on offer at Teahupoo.
Stop No. 3 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Tahiti saw perennial favorites C.J. Hobgood (USA), 29, Taj Burrow (AUS), 30, and Michael Campbell (AUS), 35, advance through to the Quarterfinals alongside Taylor Knox (USA), 38, current ASP World No. 14 and longest-serving competitor on the ASP Dream Tour, who eliminated current ASP World No. 1 Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, from competition this afternoon with a staggering 9.03 out of a possible 10 single-wave score in the final heat of the day.
“It was one of those heats where we were jockeying for position in the beginning,” Knox said. “I got a 6 and then it went flat. Joel (Parkinson) was tired of waiting and used his priority on a wave that didn’t offer much. Then that really good one came through and I was in position for it. I really thought there were going to be more waves in that heat and that I’d need more than a 6 in my score line, but that’s the way it worked out. I won my heat so I’m stoked and will go home happy now.”
While this afternoon’s four Round 3 heats laid the groundwork for some intense Quarterfinal match-ups, it was this morning’s completion of Round 2 that provided some of the day’s most dramatic upsets and exciting action.
Aritz Aranburu (EUK), 23, current ASP World No. 39, caused the upset of the event, eliminating reigning nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 37, in Round 2 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti. For Aranburu, it would mark his first heat win of the 2009 ASP World Tour season; the young Basque surfer putting up an impressive 17.27 heat total to Slater’s 15.00.
The win was no easy feat as the pair locked in the highest-scoring heat of the event, but Aranburu’s near-perfect 9.77 out of a possible 10, for an extremely deep backhand barrel in the opening minutes of the bout, assisted the European in his landmark victory.
Aranburu will now face current ASP World No. 9 Damien Hobgood (USA), 29, in Round 3 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti when competition resumes.
For Slater, today’s disappointing result marks his third, consecutive equal 17th place finish in 2009.
“That may have just given me an excuse for a big, long vacation,” Slater said. “I don’t know yet. It’s really decision time for me. With that many 17ths, you’re really hard-pressed to win an ASP World Title. I’m not here to just make up the numbers, but I don’t want to fall off the map either – I guess I kind of have though. Numbers-wise, I’m still within the possibility of getting in late in the year, but I don’t know. I guess I have a lot on my mind.”
Slater has yet to confirm if he will attend Stop No. 4 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro in Brazil, from June 27 to July 5, 2009.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, are calling for the current short-period SW swell to maintain throughout tomorrow before being replaced by a long-period SW in the coming days.
Event organizers will reconvene at 6:30am tomorrow morning to assess conditions for a possible 7:30am start.
Basque surfer Aritz Aranburu (EUK), 23, caused the upset of Round 2 at the Billabong Pro Tahiti last night by eliminating nine-time and reigning ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 37, in Round 2 of competition.
Water, waves and wind: Check out our surfing videos. We have collected tons of free surf videos and clips for you!
It has been an action-packed month of April around the world with no less than one ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 4-Star, two 6-Star and two 6-Star Prime rated events putting the international ratings upside down and kicking-off another race that promises to bring world class level this year again.
The Billabong Pro Tahiti navigated challenging weather patterns Wednesday in Teahupoo, completing eight heats amidst varying wind and swell conditions.