Irons Hot for Billabong Pro Tahiti

Billabong Pro Tahiti 2005

Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP).
World Championship Tour (WCT).
Teahupoo, Tahiti.
May 5th — 17th, 2005

Air Tahiti Nui/ Von Zipper Trials April 25th-29th
Billabong Pro Tahiti Men’s May 5-17th
Billabong Pro Tahiti Girl’s May 5-15th

live at www billabongpro.com www.aspworldtour.com

Irons Hot for Billabong Pro Tahiti

For three adrenalin filled weeks the eyes of the surfing world will be focused on the dredging barrels of Teahupoo (Chopes) as the world’s best male and female surfers contest the Billabong Pro Tahiti delivered by Air Tahiti Nui from May 5th-17th. The action will commence a week before the main event as 80 big wave surfers vie for the two wildcards on offer in the Air Tahiti Nui/Von Zipper trials, from April 25th.

Reigning world surfing champion Andy Irons (HAW) will be heading into the main event poised to regain the ratings lead at his favourite destination of Teahupoo, the heart stopping surfing arena of the third event on the Foster’s men’s World Championship Tour (WCT).

Renowned for his critically deep take-offs and fearless back-hand barrels at the heaving left-hander, arguably the heaviest wave on the planet, Irons is currently rated third behind talented Australian duo Trent Munro (AUS) and Mick Fanning (AUS) after the opening two WCT events.

With three previous Teahupoo wins to his credit, having won the 1997 World Qualifying Series (WQS), 2000 WCT Trials and the 2002 Billabong Pro WCT, 26-year-old Irons is aware of what victory will mean to his campaign for a fourth consecutive world title.

“As far as a title run goes, winning at Tahiti is huge, it’s the most respected spot on tour, said Irons. “I am definitely going to be going there looking for a result and anything less than quarters I will be pretty disappointed. It is the win that everyone wants it’s a really nice trophy and at a spot that everyone respects. Winning would be massive, especially to get my confidence on a flow and carry it on for the rest of the year.

For the first time since 2002 Irons won’t be heading to Tahiti as the worlds number one ranked surfer but will look to draw on his immense experience and intimate knowledge of the twisting reef break, situated 400m off shore.

Regarded by his surfing peers as the man to beat at Teahupoo, Irons remains realistic about facing a field which contains four previous event champions, including duel winner Kelly Slater (Florida, USA), defending champion CJ Hobgood (Florida, USA), legend goofy footer Mark Occhilupo (Coolangatta, AUS) and known charger Corey Lopez (Florida, USA), coupled with a dynamite list of WCT surfers and Tahitian wildcards.

“For Chopes, the main guys to look out for are definitely the Hobgood brothers (Damien and CJ), they are tight and compact and really comfortable out there, said Irons. “Corey Lopez and definitely Slater, he is always a factor anywhere. Other than that, depending on the size, if it is really big there is a handful who just charge it, if its average size there is a whole bunch of surfers who are really smart out there.

2004 Billabong Pro Tahiti champion CJ Hobgood, 25, remains a significant threat in 2005, always remarkably confident over dredging left hand reef breaks. The current world number five and 2001 world champion will also be out to cement his position in the top ranks with a result at Teahupoo.

“The win last year was more of a relief for me than anything else, said Hobgood. “I felt like I had been so close year after year, I had got a couple of seconds there before, so it was good to finally win that contest. I don’t think being defending champ puts anymore pressure on me because I feel I have already got my confidence up out there.

Occhilupo has more runs on the board at Teahupoo than any other Australian, winning the tournament in his 1999 world title year and featuring in the semi-finals in both 2000 annd 2001. Occy will be competing in the Billabong Pro Tahiti for the final time as a full time touring professional following his recently announced retirement plans for the end of the 2005 season.

“I’m taking the family in this year, said Occhilupo. “The Tahitian family I stay with can’t wait to see Jay. They said don’t come back if you don’t bring Jay.

The 38-year-old will be striving for the first win of his testimonial year and is in fighting form in anticipation for the massive waves Tahiti is renowned for.

“I have worked on my equipment early, since Hawaii last year, so I feel like I have got the right boards, said Occhilupo. “They are a bit thicker so you can paddle into the wave easier. I have done a lot of pre season training so I am pretty much ready. I’ve heard they haven’t had many waves over the last couple of months so maybe they are waiting for us.

Currently holding the WCT top spot for the first time in his professional surfing career, the formally underrated Munro has charged into the spotlight in 2005, clocking up an equal third and a win in the opening two events. The 27-year-old natural footer, the form surfer over the Australasian leg, will be hoping to display his surfing diversity in the magnified surfing arena of Teahupoo.The Billabong Pro Tahiti Girls event will be staged in conjunction with the men’s WCT from April 5th to 15h. The world’s top 17 female surfers and one wildcard will contest the fourth event on the women’s WCT for 2004.

The Air Tahiti Nui/Von Zipper trials will be run from the 25th-29th of April to decide the final two positions in the Billabong Pro Tahiti for 2005. The worlds largest and most prestigious WCT trials has become a revered event in its own right, with legend surfers, former world champions, rising stars, big wave specialists, underground surfers and local Tahitians either qualifying for or invited to compete in the much anticipated tournament.

The total trials field of 80 will comprise of 40 Tahitians and 40 Internationals. The winner of the trials event and the highest place Tahitian surfer will earn their right of passage to challenge the world’s elite for a shot at the Billabong Pro Tahiti title.

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

Billabong Pro Tahiti Fast Facts: link: www.aspworldtour.com

Billabong Pro Tahiti Live Webcast: via www.billabongpro.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 apart of the daily Webcast program.Media ContactsDaily press releases will be available via e-mail or on www.billabongpro.com