Perfect Surf, Perfect Scores in Tahiti
Day two of the Billabong Pro Tahiti was filled with perfect surf and huge scores. The waves lingered in the three- to five-foot range, the wind was virtually nonexistent, and besides the odd lull here and there, the conditions couldn't have gotten much better. And as things go, with perfect surf came some perfect performances.
France's Jeremy Flores set the tone when he locked into a day's first 10-point ride. Facing California's Brett Simpson, it was one of the more entertaining, back-and-forth heats of the day. But a perfect 10, combined with a 9-point ride he got for getting barreled on a right, gave Flores the commanding win and a ticket into Round 3.
"I think the only 10s I've had have been at Teahupoo," said Flores from the channel when it was all said and done. "It's perfect and terrifying at the same time, even when it's small. It feels good to get a 10. I didn't expect to get a right like that. It felt like Backdoor. It was a proper right and spat me out. That right was a good wave. I knew if I didn't come out I would get cut up by the reef. There was definitely some pressure to get out of that barrel."
More perfection would come, as John John Florence put on yet another masterful performance, and earned a 10-point ride of his own. Facing Miguel Pupo in Round 3, Florence found himself further up the reef and in position when a solid six-footer came through. Holding priority, Pupo opted out of the wave while Florence swung and turned it into a perfect score, proving that he's very much one of the frontrunners to win this whole thing.
"That 10 was one of those lucky wide ones," described Florence. "To get those wide ones, you have to be so close to peak to get the wave and I was over far enough to get it. I thought I'd be deep and I had to grab my rail. it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster on that one."
Not to be outdone by a 20-year-old, two-time world champ and defending Billabong Pro Tahiti champ Mick Fanning added to the tally of 10s when he locked into a beast in the dying seconds of his Round 3 heat against wildcard Ian Walsh.
More an act of desperation than anything, Fanning found himself trailing Walsh at the end of the heat and needed a big score. A big score he got, and thus he lives to surf another day.
"It's times like those when you need those clutch performances when you're going for a title and I've had those in the last couple of events. That's what you train for. It's about staying cool," said Fanning.
And of course the day wouldn't have been complete without Kelly Slater putting in another freakish performance. While he didn't earn himself a 10, he got close with a 9.97 and a 9.00 in his duel with wildcard Anthony Walsh.
"I got a little too greedy to start and he started off with a good one," said Slater. "Luckily I got that 9 and backed it up. This is the best Teahupoo I've surfed in a couple of years, for the size."
After two very full days of competition the back half of the draw is starting to take shape. Surfline is reporting a moderate southwest swell expected to fill in over the weekend, which could provide enough surf to finish this thing, but they are also noting the possibility of a potential swell for Friday, Aug. 23. It'll be up to the discretion of contest director Luke Egan, but whatever happens, so far the Billabong Pro Tahiti has delivered in all the right ways.
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.90 def. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 17.70
Heat 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 17.87 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.60
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) 18.53 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 17.83
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW) 19.10 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.13
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 17.03 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 16.27
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.83 def. Ian Walsh (HAW) 17.60
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.97 def. Anthony Walsh (AUS) 16.23
Heat 8: Kai Otton (AUS) 16.43 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 16.27
REMAINING BILLABONG PRO TAHITI REMAINING ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 9: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 10: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Heat 11: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 12: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Alain Riou (PYF)
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI REMAINING ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 5: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 15.53 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.76
Heat 6: Josh Kerr (AUS) 17.17 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 13.17
Heat 7: Julian Wilson 14.77 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 8.60
Heat 8: Adam Melling (AUS) 14.10 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.10
Heat 9: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.30 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.97
Heat 10: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 19.33 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 17.10
Heat 11: Kai Otton (AUS) 19.06 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.33
Heat 12: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.90 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 13.60