Hurry Up And Wait At The Billabong Pro Tahiti

Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP).
Foster’s Men’s World Tour.
Women’s ASP World Championship Tour.
Teahupoo, Tahiti, May 5th – 17th, 2005.

Billabong Pro Tahiti Men’s May 5-17th
Billabong Pro Tahiti Girl’s May 5-15th

Catch it LIVE on www.aspworldtour.com and www.billabongpro.com

THIS morning here at Teahupoo, we’ll use that old Hawaiian line that gets hauled outof the linguistic cupboard when the waves go flat on the North Shore…Hurry up andwait!, and that around about sums up what we’re doing again in Tahiti today. Herewe are, day four of the waiting period, day three without contestable conditions,and the swell has dropped even further, whilst the bucketing showers continue.

It’s around about now that the boys and girls of the ASP will start going a littlestir crazy — if they haven’t begun the process all ready. It’s a wonderful thingthat the Foster’s Men’s World Tour and ASP Women’s World Championship Tour nowtravels to mostly exotic locales to progressively conduct the dual WCT ratingsbattles, but one liability of some such exotic locales is that there’s not much todo when the swell decides to frequent some other locale, rather than the one we’vetaken over hoping to yield the best that particular reef has to offer for theworld’s best surfers.

Teahupoo, Fiji and Hawaii are some such locations, though that’s particularly thecase here in Tahiti. In Fiji, the surfers are interned on either the Namotu orTavarua resorts, and there, paying US$270 per night for accommodation, they at leasthave satellite television with English programs, or can get out in groups and gofishing, or play tennis, or soak in the spa, or get on line and explore theinternet.

The North Shore of Hawaii, without swell, can also send you around the twist, but ifyou’ve got a car and can tolerate what ‘normal’ citizens do, and drive to town (i.e.Honolulu) everyday, you’ll be spared of island madness. Instead of going to work,you can go and act like you’re on holidays.

“At least in Hawaii, you can go to town and watch a new release movie, or goshopping at the Ala Moana Centre, or watch English-speaking TV, but here…well, youcan’t can you! observed Joel Parkinson yesterday.

It’s true enough. Here at Teahupoo we’re a tedious mostly-winding and single lane 90minute drive from Papette, and in a place where a hamburger costs something likeUS$12.50, it’s too expensive to go shopping, and the movies are all dubbed inFrench. Likewise television, unless you get CNN on cable where you are staying — andthat gets beyond tedious in a real hurry.

The vast majority of the surfers are also without wheels here. Why? Because it costsaround us$1500 per week to hire the tiniest matchbox car here. Still, we can confessof worse places to be stuck, and we can hardly expect you to be sympathetic tied toyour work desk there in whatever city of the world.

The stir-crazy antics might have in-fact begun yesterday. The previous nightI-Surf’s videoman Brooke Sylvester made a bet on his local rugby league team, theSouth Sydney Rabbitohs. He is staying with Mick Lowe, the Hobgood brothers, GregEmslie, Travis Logie and the unlikely photographic combination of Peter ‘Joli’Wilson and Tim Jones. Their host is a fish farming fanatic, and has a large pen outthe front of his property measuring about 3m x 18m, which is full of some species ofsaltwater carp.

Sylvester’s bet was that if the Rabbitohs lost, he’d swim the length of the carppool with baguettes strapped to him. Mind you, when you throw one piece of bread inthe same pool, the surface boils like a piranha-fest. The Rabbitohs lost, and soSylvester dove in to validate his bet yesterday morning. Very honorable, but littledid he know that Mick Lowe had ducked up to the local general store and boughtseveral cans of tuna, which he threw in around Sylvester as soon as he hit thewater. All of a sudden the piranha affect was in full swing, the boys almost wettingthemselves with laughter.

So here today, as Brooke Sylvester recovers from multiple mini-bites to histattoo-ed limbs, it’s Mother’s Day. As this photojournalist stumbled along the blacksand and rocky foreshores this morning, from the End Of The Road to the BillabongPro Tahitit press centre on the point, he came across a priceless scene. There wasBillabong’s veteran warrior Mark Occhilupo (he shall not retire!!!) fossickingaround the front garden of his rented abode, plucking a collection of flowers forhis wife Mae. After I stopped chuckling, he looked up grinning, almost going red.

“Am I doing alright? I forgot to get a present for Jay to give Mae on Mother’s Day,he confessed, after only yesterday being told that today was Mother’s Day.

At least today, with the contest again cancelled for the day, all the boys and girlsof the tour will have plenty of time to ring their mothers, on this their specialday of recognition. Now if only our Mother Ocean could be worthy of the same!

The Billabong Pro Tahiti delivered by Air Tahiti Nui is proudly supported by VonZipper, Bose, Kustom and The Tahitian Surfing Federation.

(From Paul Sargeant)

Billabong Pro Live Webcast: via www.billabongpro.com and www.aspworldtour.com each day of the event utilizing live coverage in English, French and Portuguese, with the event websites being translated into these three languages plus, Japanese and Spanish. Various camera angles, highlights and replays, weather and scoring information, direct viewer interaction, celebrity guests, interviews and more are a part of the daily webcast program.