THE world's best surfers are preparing for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, which gets underway on Friday, August 15, and runs through Tuesday, August 26, at the world-famous reef pass of Teahupo'o. This year marks the 17th installment of the contest on the World Championship Tour and the 2014 event will offer the ASP Top 34 vital points towards the World-Title race.
Part of the ASP Qualifying Series (QS) for many years, the Billabong Pro Tahiti joined the WCT in 1999, and has been putting the world's best surfers to the test ever since. The incredible reefbreak at Teahupo'o makes this event, stop no. 7 on the Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), one to remember.
Breaking 700 metres out to sea, "Chopes", as the break is affectionately known, is one of Mother Nature's masterpieces. This treacherous, lefthand reefbreak boasts thick, bone-crushing barrels accessible only via a beyond-vertical takeoff. Teahupo'o pulls over a semicircular reef that, at points, sits just 20 inches below the water and drops sharply, creating the world's only wave that breaks below sea level.
11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) has won in Teahupo'o four times (2000, 2003, 2005 and 2011) and in 2005 he surfed the perfect heat, scoring the first-ever 20 out of a possible 20 points against Damien Hobgood (USA) in the Final. Reigning three-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) was victorious here in 2012 and Adrian Buchan (AUS) is the defending event winner.
"Teahupo'o is a very special place for me and winning last year was definitely a career highlight," Buchan said. "I've been coming to Tahiti for a number of years and I feel as confident at the venue as one can. At the end of the day though, Teahupo'o is in charge and teaches everyone respect. It can be humbling, but I'm looking forward to this year's event and hopeful that I can recreate the magic from last season."
Local Tahitian Tuamata Puhetini was victorious at Saturday's Trials event, held in solid six-to-eight foot (2 - 3 metre) waves at Teahupo'o. Puhetini and Trials' Runner-Up Nathan Hedge (AUS) received seeds into the main event and will face off against the world's best surfers in Round 1 of competition. Breathtaking and dangerous conditions were on offer for the Trials, with local standout Kevin Bourez suffering a horrific wipeout, being driven into the reef and suffering head fractures and facial lacerations. Younger brother of current ASP World No. 5 Michel Bourez, Kevin is currently under medical observation and the ASP wishes him a full recovery.
ASP replacement surfer Glenn Hall (IRL) will compete in place of Jeremy Flores (FRA), who has been suspended from competition until August 27, 2014, resulting from an incident which occurred during the J-Bay Open. Filipe Toledo (BRA) has withdrawn from the competition due to an injury he sustained at the Mr Price Pro Ballito ASP QS Prime-rated event in July. ASP replacement surfer, Mitch Coleborn (AUS) will compete in his place.
The Billabong Pro Tahiti will be held from Friday, August 15, until Tuesday, August 26, 2014 and will be webcast LIVE via aspworldtour.com.
Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 1 Match-Ups:
- Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Glenn Hall (IRL)
- Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
- Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS), Brett Simpson (USA)
- Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Mitch Coleborn (AUS)
- Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Nathan Hedge (AUS)
- Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Mitch Crews (AUS), Tuamata Puhetini (PYF)
- Heat 7: Adriano De Souza (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Dion Atkinson (AUS)
- Heat 8: Nat Young (USA), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Tiago Pires (PRT)
- Heat 9: Kolohe Andino (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Aritz Aranburu (ESP)
- Heat 10: Josh Kerr (AUS), Julian Wilson (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)
- Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Travis Logie (ZAF)
- Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF), John John Florence (HAW), Kai Otton (AUS)