The world’s best surfers will resume the chase for the 2013 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Men’s World Title in Tahiti this week, with organisers hopeful of starting event six, the Billabong Pro, in clean two-metre waves at world-famous Teahupo’o as early as tomorrow.
Two-time ASP World Champion (2007, 2009) and defending Billabong Pro Tahiti champion, Mick Fanning (AUS), 32, is in familiar territory, he leads the ASP Top 34 heading into the second half of the season.
“Tahiti is a place where I have put a lot of focus on in my career. When I first started out on tour I made it a point to come to place like Teahupo’o in my free time to build a stronger backhand tube-riding approach. I’ve had some pretty solid results in Tahiti since and last year’s win was definitely special,” said Fanning.
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 32, reigning ASP World Champion and current ASP WCT No. 3, has had an uncharacteristic slow start to his year, but rebounded in fantastic form with a win at the last event in Bali. Parkinson was winning last year’s Billabong Pro Tahiti until the event’s final scoring ride – the moment his good mate and rival, Mick Fanning, snatched victory from under his nose.
“When I look back at last year’s Teahupo’o event, it kills me,” Parkinson said. “I felt like I did everything right that I needed to do and it just crushed me to come so close and get second. My one goal moving ahead is to win Teahupo’o.”
Local Tahitian and Teahupo’o stand-out, Michel Bourez (PYF) is enjoying an excellent competitive run, posting a career-best result at the last event in Bali, where he finished runner-up to Parkinson. The 27 year-old also finished 3rd in the season opener on the Gold Coast, Australia. He is currently ranked 8th in the world, heading into Tahiti, his homewaters.
“After making the final in Bali it made me realise, ‘I can do it’. It’s another step for me. It’s a new feeling I have now and I want to hang on to that feeling.
“I’d love to win this contest, it’s the one I want to win so bad, ever since I started surfing. This contest is the most important one for me for sure,” said Bourez.
Kelly Slater (USA), 41, 11-time ASP World Champion, is currently in second behind Fanning on the world ratings. Slater began 2013 with a win on the Gold Coast, Australia and took another win with a groundbreaking performance at stop 4 in Fiji.
With four wins under his belt in Tahiti, on paper Slater is the man to beat, yet again.
Organisers are very optimistic of starting Round 1 at approximately 07:30am local time tomorrow, day one of the 12 day waiting period.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, are calling for a modest, mid period SW swell that will build in Thursday before easing slowly on Friday. A smaller SW swell is possible for Sunday, with a series of small to modest SW to S swells possible for the last few days of the waiting period.
WCT Injury replacements and Wildcards:
WCT surfers withdrawing from the event due to injury include Owen Wright (AUS), Glenn Hall (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT) and Dusty Payne (HAW).
Raoni Monteiro (BRA) will not attend the event due to personal reasons.
The two Billabong Pro event wildcards are Alain Riou (PYF) and Anthony Walsh (AUS), who finished first and second respectively in the Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Trials.
The two ASP replacements are Patrick Gudauskas (USA) and Yadin Nicol (AUS).
The three Billabong Pro event replacements are Nathan Hedge (AUS), Jocelyn Poulou (PYF) and Ian Walsh (HAW), all trials contestants.
Selection for the wildcards and event replacements was based on the trials results.
Top 34 seeding for this event (6th event of the year) is the current WCT Rankings.
Wildcards and event replacements seedings are based on the current World Rankings.
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Nat Young (USA), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Nathan Hedge (AUS)
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Travis Logie (ZAF), Alan Riou (PYF)
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Kolohe Andino (USA), Anthony Walsh (AUS)
Heat 5: Kelly Slater (USA), Brett Simpson (USA), Ian Walsh (HAW)
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Jocelyn Poulou (PYF)
Heat 7: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 8: Michel Bourez (PYF), Kai Otton (AUS), Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Heat 9: Josh Kerr (AUS), Gabriel Medina (BRA), Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 10: C.J. Hobgood (USA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 11: Julian Wilson (AUS), John John Florence (HAW), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 12: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Damien Hobgood (USA)