Today, 4- to 6-foot Teahupoo served up such an idyllic setting for Round 1 of the Billabong Pro that all of us at home would have likely given our left nut for 35 minutes in the three-man lineup. The action began in the opening heat when my brother, Cory, slid effortlessly into a couple aquarium-clear tubes and continued all the way to Heat 12 with Julian Wilson's dramatic last-minute 9.83 to surpass Josh Kerr.
Now Julian may have had the finest come-from-behind victory of the round--with conditions as they were today, everyone down at the end of the road proved to be a winner--however, certain people shined brighter than others.
Nobody came close to CJ Hobgood's dazzling display in the tube. The former world champion has had a tumultuous run as of late, but today, that fact looked to be the farthest thing from his mind. An excellent small-wave surfer, CJ becomes one of the most dangerous/accomplished competitors in the world at any hollow venue. Today's performance was undoubtedly one of his--or anyone's--best ever at Teahupoo during competition, with four of his waves scoring in the excellent range. To boot, he also netted the day's highest score with a 9.87. If you missed the heat, simply click here and you'll find not only find C.J.'s waves, but every wave of every competitor--a first in webcast history.
Jordy Smith surprised the crap out of me in the midst of putting on an A.I.-like performance today. Two reasons I should have seen such a show coming: First, 4- to 6-foot Teahupoo to someone of Mr. Smith's size is the equivalent to us mere mortals toying with 2- to 4-foot surf. No lip or foam ball stood a chance of knocking him off his desired course. Secondly, Jordy has looked to the best surfers at every WT spot around the world for a blueprint to achieving success. Modeling Parko's early J-Bay performances with his own worked marvelously for Jordy with his back-to-back wins there providing the proof. And now at Teahupoo, I couldn't help but see the resemblance in Jordy's approach to A.I.'s. Matching Andy in the 12-foot stuff may prove to be a much more difficult task.
Just a few days ago, Dusty Payne dropped a third at the U.S. Open--only losing as a result of Slater sticking a one-in-a-million air. Today, in a location about as far removed from HB as you could be, Dusty continued to impress and stood victorious over two of Teahupoo's best in the forms of Michel Bourez and Kieren Perrow. You're going to want to watch this heat on demand as well. Moving forward, definitely keep an eye out for any of Dusty's upcoming heats.
For the boy's fighting to stay in the top 32 after the New York cut, today proved to be a day of days. Freddy P., Taylor Knox, Dusty Payne, Cory Lopez, Kai Otton, and Travis Logie all advanced straight to Round 3 and have begun adding some much-needed points to their tallies to secure their spots on the tour.
A heat win today also almost guarantees your next heat will be in a life-threatening 12-foot lineup. Good luck sleeping the next few nights in preparation for the Armageddon that's slated to go down between the South Pacific and a very shallow, sharp reef. It's easy for me to laugh about this now that I'm no longer in such a position, but the very real truth is that each and every surfer in this contest will have some death thoughts running through their heads as they prepare to push themselves way past their comfort zones.
This is gonna be fun.
If things unfold the way the forecasts predict, this events has all of the ingredients to make legends. Or better yet, legends will recognize their moment and rise to the occasion, cementing their place in history. After a few years without this challenge/opportunity, it'll be interesting to see which veteran still has the fortitude, and what newcomers have the sack to match the flash.
Like I said before, this is gonna be fun.
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Cory Lopez (USA) 12.83, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.47, Chris Davidson (AUS) 4.67
Heat 2: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 15.83, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.73, Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.27
Heat 3: Travis Logie (ZAF) 16.07, Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.40, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.73
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.23, Gabe Kling (USA) 13.97, Tiago Pires (PRT) 7.97
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.36, Ricardo dos Santos (BRA) 14.47, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 8.47
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.96, Daniel Ross (AUS) 13.07, Heiarii Williams (PYF) 10.47
Heat 7: Kai Otton (AUS) 11.47, Heitor Alves (BRA) 10.53, Owen Wright (AUS) 10.33
Heat 8: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 19.38, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.60, Adam Melling (AUS) 10.33
Heat 9: Taylor Knox (USA) 12.90, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 12.53, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.10
Heat 10: Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.73, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 13.10, Brett Simpson (USA) 8.83
Heat 11: Dusty Payne (HAW) 16.76, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 15.63, Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.17
Heat 12: Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.50, Josh Kerr (AUS) 15.84, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.27