TEAHUPOO, Tahiti (Monday, May 14th, 2007) – For only the second time in professional surfing history, the Association of Surfing Professionals, the surfers and Billabong have activated an extension of a Foster's ASP World Tour event waiting period.
Citing better swell on the horizon, the Billabong Pro Tahiti has been called off for the day and the competition window will now stretch to Wednesday, May 16, 2007. Only seven heats, roughly three and a half hours of surfing, remain.
"It's a historic day for surfing and I am really appreciative to the ASP for granting the extension," Contest Director Luke Egan said. "I couldn't be more proud of the opportunities presented and the attitudes of the remaining competitors, the ASP and the event sponsors."
Current swell forecasts sent by Surfline.com indicate that conditions will improve immensely by Wednesday afternoon.
"Our latest swell models show that a sizable swell is due to fill in over the course of the next few days and it looks like we could be running the final day of competition on Wednesday," Egan said. "That being said, we will still be back tomorrow morning for a 7am call to assess the conditions to see if the swell is filling in early."
Less than ideal conditions today, the last day of the original Billabong Pro Tahiti waiting period, prompted officials to explore an ASP rule which has not been enacted since its conception nearly a decade ago.
"The ASP rule was created due to a precedent set during the 1996 Billabong Pro in Jeffreys Bay when we had flat conditions and it was impossible to run the event," ASP World Tour Manager Renato Hickel said. "We had no option but to extend the waiting period until the forecast predicted that waves would be coming. It was then voted on at board level and became a rule at ASP. Since then, we have never used the rule."
Because there were no conflicts on the Foster's ASP World Tour calendar and the ASP always endeavors to put the world's best surfers in the world's best waves, it looks as if the Quarters, Semis and Final of the Billabong Pro will wrap up in excellent waves at Tehupoo later this week.
"This year, due to the cancellation of the Fiji event, we have the luxury of using this rule," Hickel said. "We are down to the Quarterfinals at the Billabong Pro Tahiti and the ruling was voted on by the remaining eight guys," Hickel said. "Although there were a few 'ifs and buts,' it was ultimately decided by all the surfers that we would wait and stay the extra two days if need be."
Cory Lopez (USA), 2001 Billabong Pro Tahiti Champion, is one of the remaining quarterfinalists keen to wait around for the swell to fill in.
"I really want to wait for the bigger waves," Lopez said. "If Wednesday is as good as they're saying, we can make this a really classic event and have some really good waves – maybe it will go down in history as one of the best 'Chopes contests ever. I definitely want that and I know the guys at Billabong want that. I definitely want this to go down as a big wave event and I want history to show that."
The remaining eight quarterfinalists include Joel Parkinson (AUS), Andy Irons (HAW), Damien Hobgood (USA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Mick Fanning (AUS), Luke Stedman (AUS), Cory Lopez (USA) and Kai Otton (AUS).
Official Billabong Pro Tahiti forecasters at Surfline have called for the swell to drop throughout the day before a new swell begins to pulse in over the next couple of days with it picking up substantially on Wednesday, May 16, 2007.
The next call for the Billabong Pro Tahiti will be made tomorrow morning at 7:00 for a potential 7:30 start. All the Billabong Pro Tahiti action will be webcast LIVE on www.aspworldtour.com and www.billabongpro.com.
Visit the media center on www.aspworldtour.com for transcribed athlete interviews, audio downloads, hi-resolution photographs and heat by heat updates from yesterday's Billabong Pro Tahiti action
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Andy Irons (HAW)
QF 2: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
QF 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Luke Stedman (AUS)
QF 4: Cory Lopez (USA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)