TEAHUPOO, Tahiti (Friday, August 12, 2010) – Event No. 5 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Teahupoo, boasts a venue largely considered one of the most dangerous waves on the planet, and with solid swells projected and the added pressure of the mid-year ASP field reduction, this season's Billabong Pro Teahupoo is turning into one of the heaviest events in history.
Culminating the first half of the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Teahupoo will be the final opportunity for the ASP Top 45 to secure the results needed to finish in the Top 32 on the ASP World Title rankings. Following the event in Tahiti, only the Top 32 ranked surfers will continue on throughout the back half of the season.
Tom Whitaker (AUS), 30, is into his eighth season amongst the world's elite, but a slow start in 2010 could see the Sydney-sider slip off the ASP World Tour following the Billabong Pro Teahupoo.
"The waves have been pretty fun this year and some great surfing has been going down," Whitaker said. "Obviously, I have not got through as many heats as I would have liked, but that's surfing – be patient and hopefully the waves will come."
Currently ranked No. 33 on the ASP World Title rankings, Whitaker is confident in his abilities at the infamous break, and admits that his biggest concern will be missing his newborn son.
"The goal is to move up and get tubed," Whitaker said. "I'm trying not to get too focused on the cutoff, just keep it simple and enjoy. Being away from my new son Finn is probably going to be the biggest challenge. It always takes a while to run the contest over there. Hopefully it's pumping – that will make the contest really cool for the guys at the back fighting for the cut and for the finals day."
Jeremy Flores (FRA), 22, currently ranked No. 24 on the ASP World Title rankings, is into his fourth season amongst the world's best surfers, and despite feeling relatively safe from the mid-year cut-off, admits to his slow start to 2010 playing with his confidence.
"This is kind of new for me," Flores said. "I’ve always started the year well at the first few events, but not this year. I was injured last year. I did everything to be back healthy and in good form. I felt really good physical all year, but I’ve been struggling a lot trying to find some good board. I’ve been trying to change my dimensions and stuff, but it's tough. However, I feel good in Tahiti. I love left barrels so hopefully I’ll do something good there."
Patrick Gudauskas (USA), 24, currently ranked No. 33 on the ASP World Title rankings, has been one of the rookies faced with enduring a harsh learning curve in 2010. Formerly offered the opportunity of a whole season to figure things out at the highest level of competition, this season's rookies have had to perform quickly or face the cut-off.
"My rookie year thus far has been all about learning," Gudauskas said. "With every heat under my belt, I feel more confident and comfortable heading into the next one. I haven’t had the breakout result I expected, but I believe I am capable of it. I think in part it’s due to getting more and more experience at the different waves. Plus a few tight losses going to the veterans. I’m not beat up as much as I just feel energetic at another chance to show my stuff."
Despite the necessity for a solid result, Gudauskas remains positive of the situation and in his ability to perform at Teahupoo.
"I love challenges," Gudauskas said. "Sitting behind the cutoff, I’m excited for the challenge heading into Tahiti. I’m preparing my best for it and looking forward to putting it all on the line. The biggest challenge will probably be just getting in rhythm with the lineups and making sure you get onto the best pits. Time to get some quality time in the green room."
Ben Dunn (AUS), 24, into his fourth season on the ASP World Tour, is currently sitting No. 38 on the ASP World Title rankings and faces the possibility of falling outside the world's elite in Tahiti. An able performer in all conditions, Dunn is avoiding thoughts of the cut-off until the Billabong Pro Teahupoo is finished.
"I'm trying not to think about that too much," Dunn said. "Tahiti is an easy place to do well and it's an easy place to lose. You just need to get the best waves and get pitted. If it's big, it's different. I'm just going to try to get the best pits and win my heats."
Nate Yeomans (USA), 28, is another rookie who has had to deal with the harsh learning curve this year, and will need a major result in Tahiti if he is to keep his spot amongst the world's best.
"It's been a huge adjustment, but I feel I have been improving with each event," Yeomans said. "So the cutoff after five events is a bit rough for the rookies. It's just a whole new level of surfing and a different format. It hasn't been ideal for me, but I'm really looking forward to Tahiti. I've been there about eight times so I have had some experience in that lineup. It's such a heavy wave that if you haven't been before, I think it would totally blow you away."
Currently ranked No. 40 on the ASP World Title rankings, Yeomans understands what it takes to win out at Teahupoo and will put everything on the line to keep his dream alive.
"Getting the right waves is crucial out there," Yeomans said. "That event out of all the events (besides maybe Pipe) seems that you have to be patient and choose your waves wisely. If you're not on the best waves out of the 25 minutes, the chances are you're probably going to lose."
A full breakdown of ASP World Title Rankings possibilities for the Billabong Pro Teahupoo are available at ASPWorldTour.com
Surfline, official forecasters for Billabong Pro Teahupoo, are already suggesting that excellent surf is promising. The Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials is expected to start promptly on Monday morning in eight-to-ten foot waves according to Surfline's expert swell forecaster, Sean Collins.
"The swell will be generated from a very close storm to the south, about 600 miles below Tahiti," says Collins. "The peak day will be Sunday with the largest sets in the 12-foot range, allowing all trials competitors to warm up in some serious surf. Monday should still be in the eight-to-ten foot range."
Thirty-two of the world's foremost tube riders and big-wave specialists will compete in the trials, along with 32 local invitees. Just two surfers are guaranteed a wildcard from there into the Billabong Pro, Tahiti main event.
The waiting period for the Billabong Pro Teahupoo will begin Monday, August 23 and run through September 3, 2010.
The Billabong Pro Teahupoo will be webcast LIVE via billabongpro.com/tahiti10/.
For more information, log onto aspworldtour.com.