Kelly threads a Teahupo'o monster as opponent Glenn Hall barely ducks under in the very first heat of the morning. Photo: ASP/Kirstin Scholtz
With more size to the sets than competitors expected first thing, thundering 8 foot plus Teahupoo greeted the world's best on Monday for the opening day of Billabong Pro Tahiti in the best waves the tour's seen all year. As the swell continued to build throughout the day, the End of the Road saw waves rise to the 10-to-15 foot range, with one unridden bomb so large it even wiped out the film crew scaffolding.
With both top seeds and underdogs soaring to the challenge, the day's action witnessed both perfect 10-point rides and of course some of the most horrific wipeouts ever.
First up, Kelly Slater who is known to excel in these kinds of conditions showed just why he’s the four-time event winner. After getting the best of the opening exchange with a 7.00, the 11-time World Champion claimed the first nine-point ride of the event.
“I couldn’t wait to start the heat and get going this morning because it was perfect," said Kelly Slater. “I’m so excited that I’m shaking. I need to calm myself down because I’m too excited. It’s going to be a great week and I think it’s going to get considerably bigger than this."
In heat 4, three-time world champ Mick Fanning picked up the pace as the swell continued to build, with a very comfortable win over Alejo Muniz and Mitch Coleborn and the second highest heat total of the day after tucking into two excellent scoring Teahupoo caverns.
“The conditions are flawless," said Fanning. “We can’t ask for anything better and I was stoked to get some good ones. It’s so clean and perfect here and that wave I got was a dream."
Parko, defending event winner Adrian Buchan and veteran wildcard Nathan Hedge continued to put life and limb on the line in the building swell at Teahupo'o. The all-Australian heat saw each surfer post a nine-point ride. Despite a tie between Buchan and Parkinson, the defending event champ had the heat's highest single-wave score and took the victory.
“Just to surf these waves, whatever happens, with all the fans watching is a huge honor," Adrian Buchan said. “Yesterday I hit the bottom really hard and I had to go to the doctor. I really wanted to be part of today so it’s great to be here. It’s crazy and watching everyone throwing themselves into these huge waves is intense."
Despite many commentators questioning Gabriel Medina's bottle at this size, the ratings leader managed to secure a win over local trials winner Taumata Puhetini and Australian tour rookie Mitch Crews for a direct ticket to Round 3.
“I’ve never surfed Teahupo’o like this before," Medina said. “It’s my first time and it’s pretty scary but I just tried to not think about it. I tried to keep focused, think about the paddle and pay attention. I’m stoked to make it through and feel like I’m living the dream. To have the opportunity to surf Teahupo’o this big and against these guys is amazing and I’m not going to waste it."
Heat 8 saw more fireworks as Nat Young, C.J. Hobgood and Tiger Tiago Pires took to the pulsing Tahitian barrels, with C.J. Hobgood offering of the day's highlights when he pulled back on a monster only to get sucked over the falls, somehow emerging relatively unscathed.
“C.J.’s wipeout was scary," said heat winner Nat Young. “I saw him paddle for the wave and I heard everyone in the channel cheering. It was huge and he went for it, but then he pulled back at the last second and he go sucked over the falls. Out there you can’t think of what’s happened or what might happen. You have to focus on getting the waves that you want and making it."
To finish up, the first two heats of Round 2 saw Parko defeat local trials winner Taumata Puhetini. The Tahitian this time less fortunate than C.J. Hobgood, suffering a massive wipeout that left him unable to continue. While event wildcard Nathan Hedge managed to post the first Perfect 10 of the competition in his round match-up against Adriano De Souza, securing himself a berth into Round 3 over the fierce Brazilian competitor.
Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.40, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 10.34, Glenn Hall (IRL) 4.53
Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.66, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 7.63, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 7.17
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.50, Brett Simpson (USA) 9.17, Adam Melling (AUS) 5.07
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.16, Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 8,47, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 8.10
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.30, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.30, Nathan Hedge (AUS) 15.77
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.33, Tuamata Puhetini (PYF) 12.17, Mitch Crews (AUS) 9.43
Heat 7: Dion Atkinson 15.33 (AUS), Adriano De Souza 13.10 (BRA), Miguel Pupo 10.94 (BRA)
Heat 8: Nat Young (USA) 16.50, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 8.27, Tiago Pires (PRT) 8.26
Heat 9: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.76, Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 11.44, Freddy Patacchia Jr. (HAW) 10.74
Heat 10: Jadson Andre (BRA) 16.64, Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.94, Josh Kerr (AUS) 7.93
Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS) 6.34, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 5.43, Travis Logie (ZAF) 3.10
Heat 12: Kai Otton (AUS) 18.24, John John Florence (HAW) 15.83, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 8.73
Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.17 def. Taumata Puhetini (PFY) 12.50
Heat 2: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 12.00 vs. Adriano De Souza (BRA) 11.77
Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 2 Upcoming Match-Ups:
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Mitch Coleborn (AUS)
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 5: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 6: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 7: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Tiago Pires (BRA)
Heat 8: Fredrick Patacchia Jr. (HAW) vs. Aritz Aranburu (ESP)
Heat 9: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 10: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Mitch Crews (AUS)
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 12: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
With the swell unlikely to drop below the 6-foot mark, Tuesday should see the rest of Round 2 run. Surfline are calling for:
Tuesday will see easing swell/surf as South wind increases in the afternoon (after light AM wind). Another strong SW swell builds Wednesday afternoon and continues Thursday as wind shifts SE (Wed) to ESE (Thur). More SW swell is due for the last 3-4 days of the waiting period, although we may see unfavorable wind develop over the weekend.