Billabong Pro Tahiti: Highs And Lows From Day 1 At Chopes
Day 1 of the 2010 Billabong Pro Tahiti finally kicked off today after a week of waiting for contestable surf, and depending who you asked, it certainly paid off. With a pulse of swell that could only be called a "pleasant" three-to-four foot and perfect (for us mortals at least), heats ran from sunup to sundown to make up for lost days on the island paradise. Of note was Taj Burrow getting knocked out by event wildcard and fellow Billabong team rider Manoa Drollet. While the Aussie announcer Ronnie Blakey was moaning about it, patriotic revelers in the channel—who were quite buzzed by the late afternoon exchange rolled around—were loving it. Bede Durbidge soon joined Burrow after he was dispatched by a fired up Heiarii Williams, a buck wild Tahitian who loves a party.
Game On. Were those head high barrels we saw at Teahupo'o? Hell yeah! After a week of flatness, the contest finally kicked off in really fun surf, nothing deadly, just fun.
Jordy Smith. To the delight of the channel trash—and thousands watching online—the big kid from South Africa and current world ranked #1 blasted a big judo air (he called it a "Froggy" after the heat) just over the live coral reef. Normally you can only get a score with tube rides out there but in this case, he was rewarded with a 7-point something which is pretty good for a one air wave.
Tamaroa McComb. The talented regular footer from Huahine (a small island about 100 miles from Tahiti) crushed Mick Fanning and Adam Melling. His bros back home were probably not too stoked on the announcers hyping the surf on Huahine however…
AI vs. Kelly vs. Heiarii Williams. Anytime you have Andy and Kelly together in a heat together expect fireworks. Joining them was Tahitian wild card (and wild man) Heiarii Williams. The Tahitian had the best barrel of the heat but could find a backup and placed third. Andy and Kelly had a close heat with the 9-time world champ getting the best of Irons by .03 points.
Oops! Was that über post-heat interviewer Greg "GT" Tomlinson who didn't realize the mic was on and said, "That was the funniest shit ever!" to Ace Buchan after his heat against Dusty Payne and Drew Courtney?
Femme Magnifique. Lots of hot chicks in the channel…props to the ASP cameramen for keeping an eye (and lens) on the talent.
Wright On! He may not have gotten the highest scores of the day, but Owen Wright was more than impressive today at Chopes. He caught a flurry of waves, the highlight being a cutback right into the barrel. Even better, he's on my FASL team!
Fabulous Freddy P. Surfing in the windy afternoon conditions, Fred Patacchia threw caution to the wind (the Pulitzer is coming after that line) and racked up a win over Tanner Gudauskas and Matt Wilkinson with big snaps and a few tubes where he employed the “arm bar” technique to stall.
Manoa Drollet: Props to one of Tahiti's best surfers Manoa Drollet! An event wildcard, Drollet took out Taj Burrow in conditions that were perfectly suited for the Aussie. Also on my FASL team, Manoa just earned me mad points!
The Axe. The much-talked about “trim down” of the World Tour was on everyone’s mind, yet, with Nate Yeomans and Blake Thornton both making it through their respective round two heats, we have yet to see a member of the tour fall victim to the process… it’ll happen today though.
Trouble On The Coconut Wireless. My morning was all set; bust ass ’til 10am then kick it and watch the contest but my plan was foiled when the Web cast failed. Defeated, real work ensued. The Web cast finally came up on my computer after an hour or so and it was fine after that. Let’s hope they’ve fixed the issue—I need my Chopes fix.
Bobby Martinez. 2009 Billabong Pro Tahiti Champion Bobby Martinez was bounced from the event after a last-minute wave that got Marco Polo into the lead of their round two matchup. Bobby had two chances in the waning moments but wasn’t able to make it out of a couple thick barrels. Bobby showed off his class after the heat by congratulating the Brazilian as he paddled by the media boat where Polo was being interviewed,
Taj Burrow. It was a rough day for last year’s finalists as both Taj and Bobby both lost in round two.
CJ Hobgood. If that was an interference against CJ I'm gonna win the Pulitzer Prize for this write up…
Justin Cote. I haven't missed the event since 2000 so it was extra tough to watch everyone whoop it up in the channel, swill Hinanos, and cheer on their favorite surfers without me.