Billabong ProTahiti

Billabong ProTahiti

Defending event winner Ace Buchan claiming the event over Kelly last year. Photo: ASP/Kirstin Scholtz

With the Tahiti leg all set to start on Friday, the world’s best have been getting some practice in at Teahupoo the last couple days.

Official forecasters Surfline are calling for a possible early start within the waiting period.

"The first couple days of the event will start off with contestable, but fading, leftovers from a swell that will have peaked earlier in the week. We’ll see a building trend of new southwest swell on Sunday the 17th, but the real fireworks will come throughout the week of the 18th as we see a series of very solid southwest swells impact Tahiti. While we need to see these forecasted storms actually develop before we can really nail down specific size and conditions, there is strong potential for the event to see some of the largest competition waves of the last few years during the final week of the waiting period."

For those that need reminding it was Adrian Buchan who clinched the event last year in a hard-fought upset win over Kelly during a marathon final day. But Kelly has won Chopes a startling 5 times, and with solid swell on the horizon (unlike in Fiji) the 11-time champ will be chomping at the bit as he looks to play catch up with Gabes Medina and Parko.

“Teahupo’o is a very special place for me and winning last year was definitely a career highlight," defending event winner Ace Buchan commented. “I’ve been coming to Tahiti for a number of years and I feel as confident at the venue as one can. At the end of the day though, Teahupo’o is in charge and teaches everyone respect. It can be humbling, but I’m looking forward to this year’s event and hopeful that I can recreate the magic from last season."

On top of local Tahitian Tuamata Puhetini and Nathan Hedge who'll compete as wildcards in the event, replacement surfer Glenn Hall will compete in the event this year in place of Jeremy Flores, who's been suspended from competition until August 27. While Aussie goofyfooter Mitch Coleborn will compete in place of Filipe Toledo, who's withdrawn from the comp due to an injury he sustained at the Mr Price Pro Ballito in July.

Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 1 Match-Ups:

Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Glenn Hall (IRL)

Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Raoni Monteiro (BRA)

Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS), Brett Simpson (USA)

Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Mitch Coleborn (AUS)

Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Nathan Hedge (AUS)

Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Mitch Crews (AUS), Tuamata Puhetini (PYF)

Heat 7: Adriano De Souza (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Dion Atkinson (AUS)

Heat 8: Nat Young (USA), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Tiago Pires (PRT)

Heat 9: Kolohe Andino (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Aritz Aranburu (ESP)

Heat 10: Josh Kerr (AUS), Julian Wilson (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)

Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Travis Logie (ZAF)

Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF), John John Florence (HAW), Kai Otton (AUS)