All Photos: Brent Bielmann
The beginning of the end
Today was the ninth day of the 2014 Billabong Pro Tahiti waiting period, three suns away from our expiration date. Thing sure move at leisurely pace on a lovely South Pacific isle, don’t they? Everything besides the wave at least. Today saw Teahupo’o in fine form — she grew in stature throughout the day and dolled out 9.00s like it was nobody’s business. It was a lot of people’s business, though. Kelly Slater’s. John John Florence. Ours. And now, yours.
But first, the end of the beginning
The morning started with a Round 2 heat. Read that sentence again — did it fully register? A Round 2 heat! The stepchildren’s round had not yet finished. We had one more heat until it got sent to the leper colony of our memories. That heat featured Matt Wilkinson and Lord Adam Melling and it was a mostly dull affair. So dull, in fact, that we won’t even embolden anyone’s name for it. Wilko won with 13.27 points and Adam Melling isn’t really a Lord, but didn’t that read well?
And then just Round 3
No puns here babe.
Tiago Pires: Tiago would’ve bested Taj Burrow with two of his throwaway scores — an 8.00 and an 8.57. His keeper scores, by the way, were a 9.00 and a 9.67. His smile is warm and his backhand tube riding is a hoot.
Ace Buchan: Why so defensive? The 2013 Teahupo’o champ defended his title by sending Josh Kerr home in a battle of under-appreciated Australians.
Michel Bourez: Michel Bourez warded off his home country curse for another heat, but just barely. He beat Aritz Aranburu by a humble .13 points — it wasn’t very Spartan of him. More Roman than anything. But, like, mellow Roman. No lion fighting or any shit like that.
Kolohe Andino: Before the event started, Kolohe had a crew of nerds filming him for a VISA commercial that is rumored to air during the Super Bowl. Today, he showed the world why he’s working with VISA and nothing something stupid and obscure like Discover card — 18.10 points in an annihilation of Mitch Crews. Is the media finally watching its darling become the contender we’ve built him up to be? Sure! Keep in mind, the kid is still 20.
Bede Durbidge: Bede Durbidge won a heat that he didn’t win against CJ Hobgood.
Gabriel Medina: Gabe is officially your 2014 World Champion. Not really, but when he’s dropping 18.80 points at Teahupo’o you can’t really envision him losing the title without consuming any psychedelic drugs. With those, though, you could totally envision it. Probably taste it too.
Brett Simpson: After losing every single heat of the year, Simpo beat Jordy Smith in Round 2. Then he went to Round 3 and clobbered world #2 Joel Parkinson. Look at him go!
John John Florence: John John stood up four times in his heat against Sebastian Zietz. 8.77. 9.67. 9.93. 10.00. What would have happened if he caught a fifth wave? Fire, we think. Like an actual fire.
Kai Otton: Kai Otton followed in John John’s footsteps by netting a perfect 10. Full copycat move. What’s next dude you gonna date Taylor Swift?
Kelly Slater: Why wouldn’t Kelly post 19.44 points at firing Teahupo’o? Watching him surf perfect waves still gives us the butterflies. I even sweat a bit watching too, but I’m portly.
Owen Wright: Can Owen retain the form that saw him go toe-to-toe then heel-to-heel with Kelly Slater in 2011? Has anyone seen his baseball? Matt Wilkinson sure hasn’t. 18.36 to 5.36 points is brutal.
Dion Atkinson: Sorry Dion’s not sorry, Mick Fanning.
They say that tomorrow…
The conditions might just make for the best day of the event. Your boss is going to hate you. —Brendan Buckley