2014 Billabong Pro Teahupo'o preview
The Billabong Pro Teahupo'o is here, and as the best surfers in the world amass at "the end of the road" in Tahiti, the ASP world title race is heating up. Kelly Slater finds himself sliding down the rankings, but if ever there was a wave where he could get his groove back, it's Teahupo'o. But there are a few other guys to keep an eye on; here's some of them.
Sure, Teahupo'o is a barrel riding contest, but Joel Parkinson's wrap is a thing of beauty. A second place at J-Bay has him surfing with some determination. And just like J-Bay, Fanning got Parko in the final in Tahiti in 2012. Could it finally be his turn for a win?
Owen Wright is a man on the move. He may not vie for a world title this year, but after getting over his back problems, he is quickly climbing the rankings. Teahupo'o is a wave he has had a lot of success on and can handle at any size. He will do the goofy-footers proud.
With the wave breaking a good distance out to sea, locals tie off their boats on the edge of the reef to watch all the action. When there's swell running, it can be chaos.
Leading the ASP World Tour rankings, Gabriel Medina will face a huge test at Teahupo'o. No question he can thread the barrel, but does he have the fortitude when it's kegging 12 feet on the ledge? That's the stuff world champs are made of.
John John Florence
Come on, John John, would you get it together and win something? Teahupo'o is yours. Just get angry and go crazy. Channel your inner Andy Irons and get busy out there. Or flame out in Round 2. It's up to you.
For French fans, Jeremy Flores will be sitting out Teahupo'o after being suspended following an altercation with the judges at the J-Bay Open. We will miss his whining.
Code Red Redux?
The great thing about Teahupo'o is that if it gets really big and organizers have to call the contest off, the free-surfing session can be an even better show. In this case, Mark Healey holds his line while Garrett McNamara photobombs him.
Last year, Ace Buchan played the role of spoiler, beating Kelly Slater in a hard-fought final. Not many expected him to make it that far in the event, let alone beat somebody with the experience of Slater, but sometimes good things happen to good people.
Not one to hold back at Teahupo'o, CJ Hobgood is willing to do anything to try to get a score. Watch for him this year; he's going to be dangerous -- and not just to himself.
Yeah, the scene in the channel can be a bit of a party, especially come finals days.
To the victors go the funny hats. Buchan and Slater celebrate a great day of surf.