The world’s best surfers tackled solid six-to-eight foot plus (2 – 2.5 metre plus) waves at the infamous lefthander of Teahupo’o today as the Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui completed Round 2 and the opening three heats of Round 3.
Event No. 5 of 11 on the 2011 ASP World Title season, the Billabong Pro Tahiti ran in some of the biggest surf ever in the event’s 13-year history today, with some phenomenal performances logged by the ASP Top 34.
Jeremy Flores (FRA), 23, current No. 15 on the 2011 ASP World Title rankings, proved to be the most in-form surfer of the day, surviving the opening heat of the morning in terrifying conditions against local wildcard Heiarii Williams (PYF) before besting lethal replacement surfer Cory Lopez (USA), 34, in Round 3 of competition.
The Frenchman would go on to post the highest heat total of the event, an 18.93 out of a possible 20, in his afternoon Round 3 heat, exhibiting a masterful display of backhand bravado.
Raoni Monteiro (BRA), 29, current ASP World No. 25, scored the first Perfect 10 of the event this morning, navigating a backless eight-foot (2.5 metre) monster from the south end of the point through the west bowl to the eruption of applause and hoots from the hundreds in the channel. The fearless Brazilian was exuberant after his Round 2 victory.
Josh Kerr (AUS), 27, survived the shootout of the event this afternoon in Round 3, going blow-for-blow against an inspired performance from 2011 ASP Dream Tour rookie Julian Wilson (AUS), 22. While the youngster jumped out to an early lead with a near-perfect 9.67 on his opening ride, it was Kerr who would answer back with his own 9.70 out of a possible 10 at the end of the heat to take the win and advance through to Round 4.
The day would host a bevy of major upsets in the context of the 2011 ASP World Title Race with three of the Top 5 eliminated in Round 2 of competition.
Brett Simpson (USA), 26, current ASP World No. 31, caused the upset of the event, dispatching the current frontrunner in the hunt for the 2011 ASP World Title, Joel Parkinson (AUS), 30, in Round 2 of competition.
Michel Bourez (PYF), 25, current No. 7 on the ASP World Title Rankings, utilized his superior local knowledge today to thread some impressive barrels on his backhand, netting a 17.04 out of a possible 20, en route to Round 3.
Facing Dusty Payne (HAW), 22, in Round 3 of competition, Bourez opted to postpone their clash (which would have finished the day’s action) in order to allow Payne time to heal after he suffered a severe injury to his knee during a training session last night.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, are calling for an even larger and very solid, long period SSW swell to show Saturday, fading Sunday. Another solid SSW swell could move in on Monday, before easing Tuesday. Moderate E trades prevail Saturday before backing down by the end of the weekend, with very light wind possible early next week.
Photos credit : Robertson and Scholtz / ASP