2009 Billabong Pro Tahiti: Day 3

Jordy Smith

Conditions: 3 to 5 feet, junky lottery.
Events Held: Day three of the Billabong Pro Tahiti
Nature's Call: {{{Compass}}} or set squares anyone?
Prediction: Slater to quit.


Has a little known surfer from the Basque region of Spain ended the career of surfing's greatest?

Aritz alters his facebook status – I beat the champ mothafuckas…lol J

So confusing were conditions on day three of the Billabong Pro, surfers could have used a T-square to judge which waves would hit the reef correctly. The result saw title hopes peter out in fifteen minute lulls, the number one contender beaten by a surfer nearing middle age and the sport's greatest ever, more than likely surf his last heat.

Kelly's competitive career would seem certain to conclude following today's loss. It caps the worst rut of his career, and the conundrum which has no doubt bobbed about his cerebral fluid for the past few years, is now showing on the radar of the public – Quit now or risk tarnishing an impeccable career?

After what Kelly called "his best surfing experience in Tahiti ever," in which he gallanted about Moorea scoring mindless right hand caves with Manoa Drollet leading up to his round two heat, he was beaten. And with not too much ardour either.

His oppressor was Aritz Aranburu, a Basque surfer ranked equal last and as anonymous as any athlete on tour. (On any given night you will find him bludging the free Internet connection from the media center to Facebook or Skype his girlfriend.)

The result was not unexpected. After examining the heat draw, Andy was heard to remark that Kelly may well be fucked coming up against the Basque local in round two, and that "Aritz is one of the most underrated guys out here."

When I quipped to Aritz following his victory that he was supposed to lose, that Europeans did not do well here, he pointed out that he had spent his life surfing awkward, unpredictable barrels on his backhand. He grew up in Mundaka.

Kelly was only one of the big names to wither on day three. After edging past local trialist Heiarii Williams, Parko was then smoked by the oldest surfer on tour, Taylor Knox. While Fanning would emerge from certain defeat in the final five seconds to beat equal last ranked surfer Ben Dunn.

The upsets were not unexpected. On a day like today, a surfer need only exercise superior wave selection to win. Every one of these guys can stick a drop on a four footer and thread the tube. The gap between the top and the bottom guys had been removed.

The cruellest story of the day, however, belonged to Bede Durbidge. Already possessing one throwaway after a 17th at Bells, Teahupoo held particular significance for his title hopes. With a yearlong number two seeding, Bede rightly assumed he would "get the guys with the least experience."

With three world titles and two Billabong pro crowns, Andy Irons is not one of those guys.

"It's pretty weird to get him when you're this high in the ratings. He's one of the most experienced guys on tour," said Bede about the skewed seeding system. Before adding, "but it was a good chance to beat him. And we're still in a nice place like Tahiti. You can't complain too much." – Jed Smith

Event organizers will reconvene at 6:30am tomorrow morning to assess conditions for a possible 7:30am start.

Highlights from today's Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui will be available at www.BillabongPro.com

For more information, log onto www.ASPWorldTour.com

Heat 7: Taylor Knox (USA) 11.50 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 10.63
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.26 def. Heiarii Williams (PYF) 9.67
Heat 9: Andy Irons (HAW) 13.16 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.00
Heat 10: Bobby Martinez (USA) 9.17 def. Dayyan Neve (AUS) 7.94
Heat 11: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.67 def. Dustin Barca (HAW) 8.{{{80}}}
Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.33 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 14.34
Heat 13: Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 17.27 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 15.00
Heat 14: Damien Hobgood (USA) 16.06 def. Dean Morrison (AUS) 9.00
Heat 15: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.84 def. Ben Dunn (AUS) 11.43
Heat 16: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 14.16 def. Tim Boal (FRA) 4.50

Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 15.50 def. Jay Thompson (AUS) 6.17
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.04 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 9.40
Heat 3: Mick Campbell (AUS) 15.07 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 8.50
Heat 4: Taylor Knox (USA) 15.46 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 5.{{{57}}}

Heat 5: Andy Irons (HAW) vs. Bobby Martinez (USA)
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
Heat 7: Aritz Aranburu (EUK) vs. Damien Hobgood (USA)
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Tom Whitaker (AUS)

QF 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)
QF 2: Mick Campbell (AUS) vs. Taylor Knox (USA)

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