The 2013 Billabong Pro Tahiti returned to Teahupo’o today with the world’s best surfers reveling in flawless three-to-five foot (1.5 metre) barrels to complete Round 2 and the opening eight heats of Round 3. The ASP Top 34 put on an incredible reef pass performance today in pristine barrels at Teahupo’o.
Mick Fanning (AUS), 32, defending Billabong Pro Tahiti winner and current frontrunner on the ASP WCT rankings, earned a crucial heat win towards his 2013 ASP World Title campaign, besting lethal wildcard Ian Walsh (HAW), 30, in the dying moments of their Round 3 heat. In need of an excellent ride with the clock ticking down, the natural-footer dropped into a flawless 10 point ride, earning the win and advancing to Round 4.
“My heart was in my mouth,” Fanning said. “I was looking at waves and Ian had priority and played a smart heat. You’re looking for a special wave out there, but they’re all special. I was just lucky and stoked to get that one. It’s times like those when you need those clutch performances when you’re going for a title and I’ve had those in the last couple of events. That’s what you train for. It’s about staying cool.”
Kelly Slater (USA), 41, 11-time ASP World Champion and current ASP WCT No. 2, immediately followed Fanning’s efforts with an excellent Round 3 heat, posting a near-perfect 18.97 out of 20 heat total while defeating wildcard Anthony Walsh (AUS), 30.
“I think Anthony is one of the best barrel riders in the world,” Slater said. “He’s dangerous out there and spends a lot of time out here. He’s not a guy you want to draw early and you expect to surf against him later in the event. I got a little too greedy to start and he started off with a good one. Luckily I got that 9 and backed it up. I got some good waves. This is the best Teahupo’o I’ve surfed in a couple of years for the size.”
Jeremy Flores (FRA), 25, continued to cement his reputation today as one of the best tube-riders on the planet, besting Brett Simpson (USA), 28, with a near-perfect 19.33 to Simpson’s excellent 17.10. Flores’s incredible performance would see the young Frenchman collect the event’s second perfect 10-point ride, backed up with a 9.33 on a deadly righthander.
“I think the only 10s I’ve had have been at Teahupo’o,” Flores said. “Every year we come, it’s one of the best events in terms of waves. Tahiti is paradise and it’s one of my favorite waves in the world. It’s perfect and terrifying at the same time, even when it’s small. It feels good to get a 10. I didn’t expect to get a right like that. It felt like Backdoor. It was a proper right and spat me out. That right was a good wave. I knew if I didn’t come out I would get cut up by the reef. There was definitely some pressure to get out of that barrel.”
Flores’s dominance would continue his form through Round 3, eliminating former winner Damien Hobgood (USA), 34, and advancing through to Round 4 of the event.
John John Florence (HAW), 20, was another standout to put in a near-flawless performance at Teahupo’o today, netting the day’s second perfect 10 point ride for a heaving barrel and backing up the ride up with a 9.10 to surpass Miguel Pupo (BRA), 21.
“That 10 was one of those lucky wide ones,” Florence said. “To get those wide ones, you have to be so close to peak to get the wave and I was over far enough to get it. I thought I’d be deep and I had to grab my rail. it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster on that one. I was trying to get out of the barrel any way that I could and then I had a nice lip to do a turn on.”
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.90 def. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 17.70
Heat 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 17.87 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.60
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) 18.53 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 17.83
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW) 19.10 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.13
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 17.03 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 16.27
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.83 def. Ian Walsh (HAW) 17.60
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.97 def. Anthony Walsh (AUS) 16.23
Heat 8: Kai Otton (AUS) 16.43 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 16.27
REMAINING BILLABONG PRO TAHITI REMAINING ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 9: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 10: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Heat 11: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 12: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Alain Riou (PYF)
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 5: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 15.53 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.76
Heat 6: Josh Kerr (AUS) 17.17 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 13.17
Heat 7: Julian Wilson 14.77 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 8.60
Heat 8: Adam Melling (AUS) 14.10 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.10
Heat 9: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.30 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.97
Heat 10: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 19.33 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 17.10
Heat 11: Kai Otton (AUS) 19.06 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.33
Heat 12: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.90 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 13.60