Billabong Pro Tahiti to Start Tomorrow; Defending Champion Withdraws

Photo: There will be a lot more going on at Teahupoo when competition starts tomorrow.

The 11-day Billabong Pro Tahiti waiting period is nearly half over, but the wait ends tomorrow. Today, the fifth official lay day for ASP World Tour competition at Teahupoo, will be one of preparation for the World’s Top 45 surfers. A rising swell has reinforced predictions that Round 1 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti will commence tomorrow, Tuesday, May 13, 2008.

Defending Billabong Pro Tahiti Champion Damien Hobgood (USA) has officially withdrawn from competition. ASP replacement surfer Nic Muscroft (AUS) will take his place. Hobgood fractured his shoulder freesurfing at Teahupoo one month ago and was hoping to heal in time to defend his title, unfortunately, he will have to wait to see if he can do so at the next stop in Fiji – he was the last event winner there as well.

“I wanted to wait until the last minute to see if it would be possible for me to surf but my arm was too weak to be able to pull that off,” Hobgood said. “Also if I would have hit my shoulder again, that could have put me out for a lot longer and after making that mistake last year, I didn’t want to repeat it. I should be able to surf Fiji so I am really looking forward to getting back in the water for that event.”

Hobgood’s withdrawal has changed the seeding on the Billabong Pro Tahiti draw and the heat match-ups have moved around significantly. Rookie Jordy Smith (ZAF) will now face Australia’s Dean Morrison and fellow South African Ricky Basnett in the first heat of the day.

Event officials will aim to start competition at 7am tomorrow.


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