2008 Billabong Pro Tahiti: Day 2

Surf: Four to six feet and excellent
Events held: Remaining round two and 14 heats of round three
Nature's Call: You're all still in the palm of my hand
Predicted: An out of the box winner – 'cause the top seeds are gone!

This was the longest Tahitian day you could possibly imagine. Twenty-five heats! Man. I don't think that's been done since they dropped the old 18-inch minimum size rule.

Back in the bad old days of dribbly beachbreaks, it'd have sent grown men insane. But on a good day at Chopes, 25 heats means you get to see pretty much every confrontation there is. There was gold, there was crap, and there was everything in between.

At the end of it all, the five top seeds had been given the boot, controversy had arisen and been dispelled, and 2008's first three 10-point rides had been earned – most rightfully, we might add.

Even the crappy efforts were entertaining, if only because of the comments they drew from onlookers. Wayne "{{{Rabbit}}}" Bartholomew, for one. Bugs watched woeful performances from Ben Dunn and Jihad Khodr, both of whom looked entirely out of their league, and was incensed. "It's embarrassing," he said. "To be on this tour, in your early 20s, and not want to take on a spot like this and master it …that's what this is supposed to be all about!"

If the woeful ones wanted a contrast, or at least a lesson, they coulda watched the long-awaited heat between Dane Reynolds and Jordy Smith. Neither surfer knows a whole lot about Teahupo'o, but they didn't care. The heat was like watching a bar fight. Both surfers swung at it with complete abandon and with anything they could find; both ended up on the reef; Dane went right twice and ate it badly once; Jordy snapped a leash and pulled a reverse onto the coral. Dane took the first win of what seems clearly destined to be a great rivalry. Jordy walked across the reef, and his leash drifted away to be gnawed at by the fishes.

Two guys today scored 10s and lost their heats. Leonardo Neves lost because he wasn't able to convincingly back up his ace against a savvy and consistent Bruce Irons. Tiago Pires lost because he made an enthusiastic Chopes-rookie error, letting Joel Parkinson get the better of him on a priority switch. It almost sent the event website into meltdown. "Parkinson not come to Europe…REAL," warned one ominous anonymous post. Others quoted the ASP rulebook at length, surprising your correspondent, who thought he and head judge Perry Hatchett were the only two people on earth who'd read it. Tiago himself just sucked it up: "I made a mistake," was his simple summary.

That was controversy number one. The other was generated by the most experienced surfer on the tour, and it was entirely straightforward. Kelly Slater went out to tackle Manoa Drollet, and Manoa let him go the first wave, a too-deep barrel. Kelly came up from the wipeout all fired up, paddled out, and pushed the lip down on Manoa. Result: priority interference. It took the judges a couple of minutes to make the call, but once they did, the Manoa fans in the channel hooted their heads off.

Kelly was pissed, and rightly so – at himself. But he sucked it up. Now he's lost two heats this year, both to the same guy. Wonder how long it'll be till he loses another.

The third 10 belonged to the man most unlikely: Chris Ward. Can I tell ya, Wardo makes us here at SURFING magazine cry, both with despair and with pure surfing joy. Late this afternoon he evicted world tour number three, Bede Durbidge, with what we reckon was the best wave of the WCT year so far: a flawlessly controlled four-second foamball ride through the heart of Princess Teahupo'o's glowing green evening cavern.

Wardo's had a weird year so far, awaiting the result of an incident in the {{{Sierra}}} back in January. But here in the tropics, four thousand miles from care, he's on fire. He'll face the phenomenally controlled {{{CJ}}} Hobgood in tomorrow's showdown, and given Miss Chopes's co-operation, it'll be a zinger.

Seventeen heats are now left in the event, and Captain Luke Egan intends to rip through 'em tomorrow, if he can. Which brings us to:

The top half of the draw's a mess. No Fanning, no Slater, no Burrow. Andy Irons would be the logical pick, but something nudges us toward Dane Reynolds for the final. He's gotta have tested blood by now.

The bottom half…. Well now. There's seven goofyfooters in the top 28, and only two of 'em to be seen down this end of the street. It's damn well time for one of those right foot forward wackos to take out the big bucks. Kai Otton and CJ to fight out a death battle in the semis, and the winner to defend goofy honors at the pointy end.

Can't wait.

Bruce Irons

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

(1st advances to Round 4; 2nd finishes =17th)

Heat 1: Andy Irons def. Royden Bryson
Heat 2: Luke Stedman def. Jay Thompson
Heat 3: Dane Reynolds def. Jordy Smith
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson def. Tiago Pires
Heat 5: Dean Morrison def. Michael Campbell
Heat 6: Adrian Buchan def. Ben Bourgeois
Heat 7: Tom Whitaker def. Dayyan Neve
Heat 8: Manoa Drollet def. Kelly Slater
Heat 9: Bruno Santos def. Taj Burrow
Heat 10: Tim Reyes def. Pancho Sullivan
Heat 11: Kai Otton def. Heitor Alves
Heat 12: Adriano de Souza def. Daniel Wills
Heat 13: Chris Ward def. Bede Durbidge
Heat 14: CJ Hobgood def. Luke Munro

Heat 15: Bobby Martinez v. Mikael Picon
Heat 16: Taylor Knox v. Bruce Irons

(1st advances to Quarters; 2nd finishes =9th)

Heat 1: Andy Irons v. Luke Stedman
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson v. Dane Reynolds
Heat 3: Dean Morrison v. Adrian Buchan
Heat 4: Tom Whitaker v. Manoa Drollet
Heat 5: Tim Reyes v. Bruno Santos
Heat 6: Kai Otton v. Adriano de Souza
Heat 7: CJ Hobgood v. Chris Ward
Heat 8: TBA

Read Nick Carroll’s report from Day 1 HERE

Visit the Billabong Pro Tahiti website at www.BillabongPro.com