There was a moment yesterday while I was watching the tow-session webcast from the safety of my lounge when my brother, Cory, came across the screen preparing to tow with Fred Patacchia. I can’t deny it, but I felt the urge to be there and grab that rope. Granted, that feeling quickly passed as I went back to screaming, laughing, and crying at my computer while so many of my friends and family cheated death. Yes, I was crying. It was so heavy that I couldn’t help but think that one of these wipeouts had to kill somebody. Heck, there were two girls towing into waves no man should ride. Maya Gabeira came shockingly close to expiring after a worse-case scenario with Teahupoo’s poor excuse for a channel--in truth, it’s a place where an unrideable right meets up with a barely rideable left--and by the grace of God she has been steadily regaining strength ever since.
Today, in friendlier-yet-still-too-maxed-out-for-paddling conditions, three rounds of shocking competition played out. At the beginning of Round 3, if you would’ve offered to bet me a million dollars that both Hobgoods and Cory would lose at big Chopes to regular footers not named Kelly or AI, I’d have taken the bet and you would be waiting a long time on that million bucks. But that’s why we run contests, as David always gets his chance to take down Goliath. In one of the most talked about heats of the day, fellow Zaffas Travis Logie and Jordy Smith took to the water in their Round 3 heat. A testament to just how dangerous the conditions were, Jordy would suffer an injury to his ribs that resulted in the heat being stopped, re-started, finished, and eventually re-surfed. According to the ASP Rulebook, the heat cannot be stopped and would require the pair to surf again. In the re-surf, Logie defeated the World Title favorite. To say that it was an odd turn of events would be a huge understatement. The extent of Jordy’s injuries are not yet fully known other than he has injured his rib(s).
The 2010 Pipe Master, Jeremy Flores, has already collected the scalps of Cory, Bourez, local destroyer Heiarii Williams, and Teahupoo herself. You see, while defeating Bourez, he scored a perfect two-wave total of 20 points, crushing Tahiti’s favorite son while also taking the teeth out of Teahupoo and giving rise to the notion that Flores is one of the hardest-charging surfers in the world.
Brett Simpson’s also been a surfer turning heads at Chopes. His impressive wake of destruction bears the likes Parko, Damien, and Fred. Those performances were enough for me to believe in Simpo’s resolution to be much more than a two-time U.S. Open Champion.
While the Brazilians have been going mad during this event and the ensuing tow-session, Raoni Moneteiro has progressed into the quarters and proven himself a raving-mad lunatic in the process--all the characteristics it takes to ride Teahupoo. This new generation of Brazilians are tough as nails. Along with Raoni, Alejo Muniz and Jadson Andre also left it all out there in the Pacific Ocean at this event.
As one of the last events before the mid-year cut, you can guarantee that those surfers sitting on the bubble have run every possible scenario through their heads. Simpo, now safely into the OWR top 32 before the cut, has a ton of new confidence to draw from as he progresses deeper into the ranks of the WT. While his quarterfinal opponent, Travis Logie, needs a semi-final finish to find himself on the cusp of requalifying. For Jeremy Flores, well, he won’t be happy unless he wins the whole damn contest. And Raoni, good luck wiping that smile off his face after the performances he’s put on thus far.
As far as the surfers that have moved into the quarters are concerned, we have Kelly sitting in sixth place, Owen Wright in ninth, and Josh Kerr also in 9th, all of whom stand poised to gain ground and distance themselves from the rest of the Top 10 with either this quarterfinal finish or a possible victory in their future. Kelly looked and sounded as if he was having a hard time registering his good fortune after so many around him in the ratings have suffered shocking defeats so far. A win for Kelly sees him right back in the driver’s seat for number 11, even after missing J-Bay. If Owen or Kerr pull off the win, their name goes instantly into any World Title discussion.
It wouldn’t be a surf contest if there wasn’t a joker in the midst. After Davo’s dismissal tonight, Wilko becomes the sole loose goose remaining in the quarters. And like his surfing, behavior, and interviews, not even Kelly knows what he has in store for us all tomorrow.
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI REMAINING ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 4: Michel Bourez (PYF) def. Dusty Payne (USA) - Payne withdrew from competition due to injury sustained during a free surf on Thursday afternoon.
Heat 5: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.77 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.94
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.60 def. Ricardo dos Santos (BRA) 15.84
Heat 7: Travis Logie (ZAF) 14.93 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.43 - Re-surfed at the end of the round.
Heat 8: Chris Davidson (AUS) 11.77 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 10.86
Heat 9: Brett Simpson (USA) 17.26 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 16.70
Heat 10: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.80 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 5.00
Heat 11: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 12.20 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 6.44
Heat 12: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 12.60 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 7.93
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Josh Kerr (AUS) 16.30, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.16, Kai Otton (AUS) 8.10
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.77, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 6.50, Michel Bourez (PYF) 2.90
Heat 3: Travis Logie (ZAF) 15.66, Brett Simpson (USA) 15.00, Chris Davidson (AUS) 14.43
Heat 4: Owen Wright (AUS) 19.77, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 12.23, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.60