TEAHUPOO, Tahiti (Wednesday, May 16th, 2007) – Damien Hobgood (USA) has been crowned the 2007 Billabong Pro Tahiti Champion after beating Foster's ASP World Tour ratings leader Mick Fanning (AUS) in a last-minute victory in 5 to 7 foot (1.5 – 2 metre) surf at Teahupoo.
Hobgood bowed out of the 2005 Billabong Pro Tahiti Final halfway through after dislocating his shoulder – a circumstance which made his win today that much more meaningful.
"It's insane – I was stoked to have another chance at it," Hobgood said. "I feel that things happen for a reason and I did my best out here in 2005 and came up short. I replayed that wave in my mind a hundred times going, 'I should have tried to stay in that barrel and not come out doggy-door,' but I feel like I can put that out of my mind now."
Hobgood took off on a set wave needing an excellent scoring ride of 8.21 with one minute remaining. Fanning caught the wave behind but came up short in the exchange – Hobgood's 8.60 won him the heat.
"Even though there was only a minute left, I was still holding on and thinking I could do it," Hobgood said. "I was able to just barely pull it off but the heat was so close – Mick put on a great performance."
Hobgood and Fanning met in a Foster's ASP World Tour final in Brazil last year that produced an outcome opposite to today's. Even though Fanning led for the majority of the heat, he was humble in his recognition of Hobgood's accomplishments today.
"There's nothing you can do," Fanning said. "You pray and hope that he falls, but in the same sense, you want to see someone get a good barrel. It's all good. I got him last year in Brazil so he got me back."
Fanning's 2nd place result at the Billabong Pro Tahiti has seen him pull away from the pack on the official ASP World Tour ratings. Having already featured in two out of three finals on this year's Foster's ASP World Tour, Fanning is well and truly in pursuit of his maiden world title. He finished 3rd in the world in 2005 and 2006.
"I always feel comfortable at home (on the Gold Coast) and in Bells," Fanning said. "I never really had a good result here at Teahupoo so I'm stoked to get one and put it towards the World Title. This year, I've had a few results at the start of the year – in the past I've always seemed to do well the second half of the year. "
Fanning peaked in his semifinal against rookie Kai Otton (AUS), earning the only perfect 10.00 wave score of the event. Otton posted the second highest wave score of the event (a 9.90) in his Quarterfinal against Cory Lopez (USA), but lost to Fanning after making a critical priority mistake by giving the ratings leader the wave of the day.
"Mick scored that 10.00 under my priority, but that's what happens, guys get scores underneath priority," Otton said. "I just thought I was a little deep and it didn't look that good but he was in the perfect spot, got really deep and got the 10.00."
Otton has moved to 10th on the Foster's ASP Ratings with this result; right behind French rookie Jeremy Flores who now sits 9th in the world.
"It's unbelievable," Otton said. "I'm having a dream start for a rookie. If I can keep on a roll maybe I can avoid surfing the 'QS."
Joel Parkison (AUS) has moved to fourth on the world ratings after his 3rd place finish today. Parkinson lost to Hobgood in Semifinal 1.
"The set came through and it had this big lump and it came to a peak and went straight to Damien and he got a 9.0 on it," Parkinson said. "I was 10 feet too deep and sometimes that's all it takes. I knew I needed to be patient but it never really happened for me after that. I'm happy with the result though, a 3rd is great."
The next stop on the Foster's ASP World Tour will be event No. 4, the Rip Curl Pro Chile, from June 20 to July 1, 2007.
Visit the media center on www.aspworldtour.com for transcribed athlete interviews, audio downloads, hi-resolution photographs and heat by heat updates for all the Billabong Pro Tahiti action thus far.
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI FINAL RESULTS
FINAL: Damien Hobgood (USA) 16.60 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.20
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI SEMIFINAL RESULTS
SF 1: Damien Hobgood (USA) 18.17 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.67
SF2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.87 def. Kai Otton (USA) 15.33
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI QUARTERFINAL RESULTS
QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.53 def. Andy Irons (HAW) 12.00
QF 2: Damien Hobgood (USA) 17.17 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 14.23
QF 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.73 def. Luke Stedman (AUS) 14.33
QF 4: Kai Otton (AUS ) def. Cory Lopez (USA)
Foster's ASP World Tour Ratings after Stop No. 3 of 10, the Billabong Pro Tahiti
1. Mick Fanning 3108 points
2. Taj Burrow 2676 points
3. Damien Hogood 2342 points
4. Joel Parkinson 2340 points
5. Bede Durbidge 2232 points
6. Kelly Slater 2208 points
7. Andy Irons 1989 points
8. Michael Campbell 1932 points
9. Jeremy Flores 1742 points
10. Kai Otton 1701 points