2008 Billabong Pro Tahiti: Day 1

Surf: Four to six feet and excellent
Events held: Round one and five heats of round two
Nature's Call: What do I care? You're gonna do EXACTLY WHAT I WANT.
Predicted: An extremely long second day

"I dunno about surf spot psychology," said Luke Egan, "but I reckon we embarrassed her into it."

For five days, Luke, the Billabong Pro's event director, and Princess Teahupo'o had eyeballed each other across the flat broad lagoon, waiting to see who'd blink first. Luke doesn't blink easily, but Chopes - after pumping almost non-stop for the whole month of April - didn't even seem to be looking.

Last night Luke had come up with his ultimate backup game plan: switch the event location. His target? A longish left at a spot called No-Pass a couple miles up the reef.

No-Pass is fun, but my god, next to Teahupo'o, it's freakin' meatloaf. You surf it 'cause you have to, not 'cause you want to.

Evidently, Miss Chopes couldn't deal with this humiliation. One-upped by NO-PASS?? OK, she seemed to say, I give up, and this morning delivered four to six feet of fresh and magnificently playful west-southwest swell - and in the process, gave us one of the nicest days in this event's 10-year history.

Surfing magazine doesn't want to be, like, rude or something, but you know what, it was about time. Billabong did its best over that five days, even helping arrange a couple of freebie Donavon Frankenreiter sets over the weekend to cover the standoff. But there's only so many Donavon concerts a man can endure, even in Paradise, before he gets over the tropical glow and starts demanding some action.

Action man Kelly Slater, eagle eye no doubt glued to the surf report, had stayed home in California. Today he showed up and spent his first heat getting in a warm-up while Manoa Drollet spanked both him and {{{CJ}}} Hobgood.

Kelly's show wasn't as high scoring as Adriano de Souza's splendidly gutsy 19.53/20 earlier in the day, but it was infinitely more finely executed. CJ, interviewed yesterday, told us: "It doesn't matter if Kelly gets a 33rd here - he's still in the box seat, and anyone who doesn't think so is kidding." Well, he ain't getting a 33rd here, buster.Of course he is getting Manoa next round.

On the other end of the seeding, defending world champ Mick Fanning looked like he was anywhere but at Chopes against the other trials wildcard Bruno Santos. Mick's effort was that of a man still on a double honeymoon: the world champ version and the marriage one. Better come back from 'em soon, buddy, or there'll be a lot of work to do.

The swell angle isn't typical of this place, and as a result a lot of waves were squaring up to the reef in peaks, like some sort of small Tahitian Pipeline. Well as we all know Pipeline has a Backdoor, and sure enough, against all convention, Chopes was producing some nice spitting rights. Nobody seemed willing to believe in it - nobody that is until B. Irons, who got one 10 minutes into his first round heat and earned a healthy 7.5 for his efforts.

Surfing hopes B. can pull the same stunt to better effect tomorrow in the remaining Round Two.

Meanwhile, Luke is preparing for one of the most ferocious runs home of any event in recent world tour history. An evil weather change is predicted for Friday and Saturday...rain and howling onshores...which means he's honestly thinking about getting it all done by Thursday night.

There hasn't been an event finished that quick since they invented the World Championship Tour. Let's see if Teahupo'o blinks him out of it.


(1st advances to Round 3; 2nd & 3rd advance to Round 2)
Heat 1: 1- Dean Morrison, 2- Jordy Smith, 3- Ricky Basnett
Heat 2: 1- Kai Otton, 2- Luke Munro, 3- Royden Bryson
Heat 3: 1- Bobby Martinez, 2- Travis Logie, 3- Leonardo Neves
Heat 4: 1- Tiago Pires, 2- Jeremy Flores, 3- Roy Powers
Heat 5: 1- Andy Irons, 2- Tim Reyes, 3- Aritz Aranburu
Heat 6: 1- Joel Parkinson, 2- Chris Ward, 3- Ben Dunn
Heat 7: 1- Dayyan Neve, 2- Bede Durbidge, 3- Nic Muscroft
Heat 8: 1- Manoa Drollet, 2- Kelly Slater, 3- CJ Hobgood
Heat 9: 1- Pancho Sullivan, 2- Mick Fanning, 3- Jamie O’Brien
Heat 10: 1- Taj Burrow, 2- Tom Whitaker, 3- Bruno Santos
Heat 11: 1- Adrian Buchan, 2- Daniel Ross, 3- Jay Thompson
Heat 12: 1- Adriano de Souza, 2- Kieren Perrow, 3- Mikael Picon
Heat 13: 1- Heitor Alves, 2- Taylor Knox, 3- Rodrigo Dornelles
Heat 14: 1- Luke Stedman, 2- Fred Patacchia, 3- Jihad Khodr
Heat 15: 1- Michael Campbell, 2- Bruce Irons, 3- Dane Reynolds
Heat 16: 1- Danny Wills, 2- Neco Padaratz, 3- Ben Bourgeois

(1st advances to Round 3; 2nd finishes =33rd)
Heat 1: Kelly Slater def. Jamie O’Brien
Heat 2: Bruno Santos def. Mick Fanning
Heat 3: Bede Durbidge def. Nic Muscroft
Heat 4: Chris Ward def. Jeremy Flores
Heat 5: Taylor Knox def. Aritz Aranburu

Heat 6: Dane Reynolds v. Travis Logie
Heat 7: Neco Padaratz v. Royden Bryson
Heat 8: CJ Hobgood v. Ricky Basnett
Heat 9: Tom Whitaker v. Daniel Ross
Heat 10: Ben Dunn v. Mikael Picon
Heat 11: Tim Reyes v. Jihad Khodr
Heat 12: Roy Powers v. Ben Bourgeois
Heat 13: Leonardo Neves v. Bruce Irons
Heat 14: Luke Munro v. Fred Patacchia
Heat 15: Jordy Smith v. Rodrigo Dornelles
Heat 16: Jay Thompson v. Kieren Perrow

For all the live action at the Billabong Pro Tahiti, tune in to www.BillabongPro.com