Event No. 3 on the Foster's ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Tahiti, plays a crucial role in shaping this season's world title race. Today's action saw frontrunners Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Andy Irons (HAW) both remain in contention with Kelly Slater (USA), Taj Burrow (AUS), Mick Fanning (AUS) and Bede Durbidge (AUS) slated to compete tomorrow.
Parkinson, who is currently rated 5th on the Foster's ASP World Tour, survived the heat of the day, going blow for blow against fellow Australian Shaun Cansdell. Following strong opening rides from Cansdell, Parkinson kept himself in the hunt by securing a 7.40 before turning the heat upside down with the event high single-wave score of a 9.83 out of a possible 10.00.
"I was really lucky to get that wave because at the halfway point I thought my Teahupoo event was over," Parkinson said. "I was sitting around for so long that I thought my heat was over but then there was a little pulse and each wave got bigger and bigger. I managed to get two scores out of the pulse. Sometimes you never know what will happen in the last 15 minutes of a heat."
Irons, former three-time Foster's ASP World Champion and 2002 Billabong Pro Tahiti Champion, escaped a near-elimination of his own today as he faced off against natural-footer Trent Munro (AUS). With the heat lead exchanging several times, Irons massacred a bowling lefthander in the dying minutes to pull ahead of Munro.
"It was a really slow heat," Irons said. "It was really close at the end, I needed a 5.8 and I got a 6.8 so it wasn't a walkthrough by any means. I wanted to make the heat and I want to do well in the contest but at that point I was almost looking forward to going home; Trent almost axed me."
Irons will now face fellow Hawaiian Pancho Sullivan in his upcoming Round 4 heat.
"That's pretty wild, me and Pancho, two big boys," Irons said. "I guess it's a pretty even playing field. He was one of my favorite surfers growing up so it will be fun to surf against him. I've never surfed against him man on man so I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully we get some six foot and real hollow waves and we can really get into it."
Jeremy Flores (FRA) capped off today's action by posting a convincing win over fellow young gun Adriano de Souza (BRA). The duo, who both entered into their Foster's ASP World Tour careers after winning their respective World Qualifying Series (WQS) seasons (de Souza in 2005, Flores in 2006), were one of the more anticipated matches of the day. Despite de Souza opening with a solid wave, Flores quickly took command of the heat with his committed full-rail approach.
"I've been surfing against Adriano for so long – since we were 13," Flores said. "He's beaten me so many times and I've beaten him many times as well. It's nice to beat him again."
Flores now faces the potential of drawing reigning and eight-time Foster's ASP World Champion Kelly Slater in Round 4.
"I've surfed against Kelly a lot," Flores said. "I've always surfed pretty good against him, but you have to surf really good against him. The waves are pretty small so I'm just going to try my best and keep going."
When Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 3 action resumes, Heat 8 will feature reigning and eight-time Foster's ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) squaring off against rookie Floridian Gabe Kling (USA).
Visit the media center on www.aspworldtour.com for transcribed athlete interviews, audio downloads, hi-resolution photographs and heat by heat updates.
Another call on competition status will be made tomorrow morning at 7:00 for a potential 7:30 starts. All the Billabong Pro Tahiti action will be webcast LIVE on www.aspworldtour.com and www.billabongpro.com.
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 3 RESULTS – HEATS 1 – 7:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.23 def. Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 16.93
Heat 2: Michael Campbell (AUS) 11.57 def. Ricky Basnett (ZAF) 5.83
Heat 3: Pancho Sullivan (HAW) 13.43 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 12.93
Heat 4: Andy Irons (HAW) 14.70 def. Trent Munro (AUS) 14.07
Heat 5: Damien Hobgood (USA) 12.33 def. Dayyan Neve (AUS) 6.56
Heat 6: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.37 def. Bruce Irons (HAW) 12.63
Heat 7: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.00 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.10
BILLABONG PRO ROUND 2 RESULTS – HEATS 9 – 16:
Heat 9: Trent Munro (AUS) 13.90 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 12.67
Heat 10: Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 16.66 def. Frederick Patacchia (HAW) 7.50
Heat 11: Greg Emslie (ZAF) 12.40 def. Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA)11.50
Heat 12: Dayyan Neve (AUS) 13.67 def. Leonardo Neves (BRA) 6.77
Heat 13: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.00 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.77
Heat 14: Cory Lopez (USA) 14.84 def. Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 10.87
Heat 15: Luke Stedman (AUS) 16.00 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.13
Heat 16: Kai Otton (AUS) 12.83 def. Michael Lowe (AUS) 11.00
REMAINING BILLABONG PRO ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 9: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Troy Brooks (AUS)
Heat 10: Dean Morrison (AUS) vs. Chris Ward (USA)
Heat 11: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Bernardo Miranda (BRA)
Heat 12: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Luke Stedman (AUS)
Heat 13: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Victor Ribas (BRA)
Heat 14: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Cory Lopes (USA)
Heat 15: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA)
Heat 16: Daniel Wills (AUS) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)