After three consecutive lay days the Billabong Pro Tahiti was back on. Teahupo’o delivered a solid swell with 10-to-12-foot-plus barrels, laying the foundations for two perfect 10’s to be posted.
With conditions improving, the action packed day saw 36 of the world’s top surfers reduced to just 12, as the competition ran through the final heat of round two followed by round three.
The opening heat of round three saw the Portuguese Powerhouse, Tiago Pires, take on current ASP World No. 4 Taj Burow. Pires was in excellent form, posting two near-perfect scores — a 9.00 and 9.67 — leaving Burrows in a combination situation with minutes left on the clock. Pires takes the win and will proceed to round four.
“I love Tahiti and it’s been a few years since I got a result here. My plan was to be selective and it worked. I think it’s safe to say that was my first good heat of the year so I’m really psyched and excited for my next heat,” said Tiago Pires.
I’m stoked and I’ve never got so many barrels, I was claiming every single wave[/pullquote]
As the day continued there were more upsets and good scores. Heat six saw the current No. 1 Gabriel Medina go head-to-head with wildcard Nathan Hedge. In the opening minutes both surfers had posted excellent scores, but Medina kept his momentum and continued to drive through the double-overhead barrels with incredible confidence, logging a nine-point ride and securing the win with an 18.80 heat total.
“This is my third time in Tahiti and every time I come it’s so fun so I’m always excited to come back. I was worried about facing Nathan. He surfs this wave so well and he’s a tough guy to beat. I’m stoked and I’ve never got so many barrels, I was claiming every single wave,” expressed Gabriel Medina.
The biggest upset of the day was Bret Simpson dispatching world No. 2 Joel Parkinson in heat seven. Despite Simpson suffering a heavy wipeout, hitting the reef, he came back with two high-scoring waves. Parkinson was left searching for waves in the dying seconds, but was unable to deliver. Simpson secures a place in round four for the first time this season.
“My main thing is to look at the waves and think about whether I can make them. It’s not about charging for me. I couldn’t kick out of my first wave so I hit the bottom. I hit it pretty hard but was able to bounce back and got my best wave shortly after,” commented Bret Simpson.
Heat eight saw the battle of the Hawaiians when John John Florence and Sebastian Zietz took to the water for one of the most anticipated heats of the day. Both surfers gave it their all and put on an incredible performance, but it was Florence who took the win with a near-perfect heat total of 19.93, and the second perfect 10 of the competition. Zietz also put on an incredible performance, that would have bested many others in the competition, but unfortunately was not enough to best Florence.
“I just went for it out there today, I’m really stoked it picked up and I’m so happy to get some waves,” said John John Florence. “The last few heats I’ve had I haven’t really got too many waves. The ten-point wave I got was crazy, I just hoped for the best and it worked out.”
Otton followed with arguably the deepest barrel of the event — logging the second perfect 10[/pullquote]
The next heat of the day saw Kai Otton take down Nat Young. Both surfers got off to an exciting start with a pair of eight-pointers, but Otton followed with arguably the deepest barrel of the event — logging the second perfect 10 of the day to take the lead. Young answered with a perfectly executed steep takeoff, posting a nine-pointer. With five minutes left Otton held the win by a mere 0.11 points, and Young was unable to find the 9.05 he needed.
“I knew Nat would be ready for this event, he always gets 15 points or more and I knew he would be hard to beat. This contest is pretty pivotal in my career because I haven’t put much together this year, even though I’ve had a few good heats,” remarked Kai Otton.
Kelly Slater went all in during his bout with Jadson Andre, notching a 9.00 straight away for a tight barrel. Slater posted three nines in the opening 10 minutes, finishing the heat with five nine-point rides in all. Andre was left in a combination situation and leaves the competition in an equal 13th place.
“This is probably the best I’ve ever surfed ‘Chopes,’ It’s just big enough for that outside ledge to go hollow. I would say it’s almost sage out there. It’s 15 feet or so and this is where is gets beautiful,” expressed Kelly Slater.
The final upset of the day was delivered by Dion Atkinson, after he eliminated the reigning three-time World Champ, Mick Fanning. The pair got off to a slow start but the set they were waiting for finally came in at the 18-minute mark. Atkinson took a huge drop and posted a 9.50 and, after a brutal wipeout, Fanning answered with a mere five-pointer. With just minutes to spare Atkinson found his backup score and took the in.
“It feels bloody good,” exclaimed Dion Atkinson. “I’m surfing for my survival but these guys are surfing for the title. I”m out there to sin it, and I’m stoked I did, and got barrelled in the process. I’ve got the lineup more dialled now but I’ve taken a few days of floggings.”
Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 2 Results (1st to Round 3, 2nd finishes Equal 25th):
Heat 12: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.27 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 8.83
Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 3 Results (1st to Round 4, 2nd finishes Equal 13th):
Heat 1: Tiago Pires (PRT) 18.67 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.57
Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.33 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 14.73
Heat 3: Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.90 def. Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 14.77
Heat 4: Kolohe Andino (USA) 18.10 def. Mitch Crews (AUS) 10.17
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.10 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.10
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 18.80 def. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 13.44
Heat 7: Brett Simpson (USA) 16.23 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.17
Heat 8: John John Florence (HAW) 19.93 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 18.50
Heat 9: Kai Otton (AUS) 18.17 def. Nat Young (USA) 18.06
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.44 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 6.43
Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS) 18.36 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 5.36
Heat 12: Dion Atkinson (AUS) 16.50 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 5.94
Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 4 Match-Ups (1st to Quarterfinals, 2nd and 3rd to Round 5):
Heat 1: Tiago Pires (PRT), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Gabriel Medina (BRA)
Heat 3: Brett Simpson (USA), John John Florence (HAW), Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA), Owen Wright (AUS), Dion Atkinson (AUS)