Billabong Pro Tahiti Presented By Air Tahiti Nui Just Two Days Away

Billabong Pro Tahiti pres. by Air Tahiti Nui
Stop No. 3 of 11 on the 2008 ASP World Tour
Teahupoo, Taiarapu, Tahiti
May 8-18, 2007

TEAHUPOO, Tahiti (Tuesday, May 6, 2008) – The Billabong Pro Tahiti,  the third of 11 stops on the 2008 ASP World Tour, enters its official waiting period on Thursday, May 8, 2008. Eight-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) enters the event World No. 1 after claiming victories in the first two events of the year.

Slater and the rest of the world’s Top 45 surfers last donned ASP World Tour competition singlets six weeks ago. From the looks of things, they may go a few more days before pulling one on. Current surf reports are not forecasting much activity in the South Pacific this week.

“There’s no swell on the map,” Slater said. “It looks like we’re going to have a wait-around event unfortunately. I love Tahiti like few places in the world. It’d be nice to have swell for this event just once like they get in the trials. I think I’ll surf the trials from now on!”

The Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials, a 80-man trials event held to decide two of the three wildcards who earn spots into the Billabong Pro Tahiti, went off in solid eight to 15 foot surf last week. Hawaii’s Jamie O’Brien and Brazil’s Bruno Santos finished 1st and 2nd in the trials respectively and will join local surfer Manoa Drollet (TAH) as wildcards into the Billabong Pro Tahiti.

“Jamie O and the boys were really lighting it up and charging on that swell,” Slater said. “It’s probably better for all of us guys that it’s going to be small because he’d probably school most of us. Bruno and Manoa are great out there and I’m sure they’re looking forward to more swell for the event but that would only be at the end of the waiting period. Cross your fingers, people.”

Slater, who is a three-time winner of the event, will meet 2004 Billabong Pro Tahiti winner C.J. Hobgood (USA) and local specialist Manoa Drollet in Heat 8 of Round 1.

Current world No. 2 Bede Durbidge (AUS) will no doubt use any spare time he can find to garner a little more practice at Teahupoo. Durbidge has yet to really shine at the venue, but has epitomized consistency over the last six months.

“I haven’t had the results I have wanted in Tahiti but I feel I get more comfortable there every year,” Durbidge said. “It’s hard living on the Gold Coast because we don’t get to practice in waves like Tahiti. During the break though, I have just been trying to surf as many lefts as possible to fine-tune my backhand. I’m really looking forward to the event this year and I think we’re definitely due for a solid swell.”

Durbidge jumped to 5th in the world in 2007 after finishing 15th in 2006 and 29th in 2005. To be rated second only to Slater for the past six weeks has been surreal for the soft-spoken surfer.

“It’s been great having this time off and knowing I have had a great start and I’m the closest to Kelly,” Durbidge said. “I’m really happy with how things are going at the moment. It’s so good Kelly is doing the tour again too this year, he has been on there for so long and he is still doing the best surfing in the world.”

Durbidge will face Dayyan Neve (AUS) and Chris Ward (USA) in Heat 7 of Round 1.

The Billabong Pro Tahiti will be webcast LIVE on www.aspworldtour.com and www.billabongpro.com.

Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Dean Morrison (AUS), Luke Munro (AUS), Daniel Ross (AUS)
Heat 2: Kai Otton (AUS), Leonardo Neves (BRA), Ricky Basnett (ZAF)
Heat 3: Bobby Martinez (USA), Roy Powers (HAW), Royden Bryson (ZAF)
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Tim Reyes (USA), Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 5: Andy Irons (HAW), Ben Dunn (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Damien Hobgood (USA), Aritz Aranburu (EUK)
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Dayyan Neve (AUS), Chris Ward (USA)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Manoa Drollet (PYF)<
Heat 9: Mick Fanning (AUS), Pancho Sullivan (HAW), Jamie O’Brien (HAW)
Heat 10: Taj Burrow (AUS), Tom Whitaker (AUS), Bruno Santos (BRA)
Heat 11: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Jordy Smith (ZAF), Mikael Picon (FRA)
Heat 12: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Jay Thompson (AUS), Heitor Alves (BRA)
Heat 13: Taylor Knox (USA), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Jihad Khodr (BRA)
Heat 14: Luke Stedman (AUS), Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA), Michael Campbell (AUS)
Heat 15: Dane Reynolds (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Ben Bourgeois (USA)
Heat 16: Neco Padaratz (BRA), Bruce Irons (HAW), Daniel Wills (AUS)