A Bugs Eye View

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A bit of down time to begin the window for the Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui. It's probably going to be small and sketchy until mid next week. According to Contest Director Luke Egan there is a chance it could come up Tuesday but Wednesday looks likely. Of course Big Louie will be checking out Teahupoo at dawn each morning and if there is a possibility of running longer heat times he will definitely consider running.

The reason being that there is no major swell looming in the window and it may very well be a hot dog Chopes year, like the year when Kelly surfed off against Shane Dorian for the first of his three Billabong Pro Tahiti titles. If in fact we are looking at a one modest swell cycle toward the back end of the waiting, there is a distinct possibility that the dual heat format will be deployed.

This format was successfully implemented at the Billabong Pro Pipeline Masters last December. It allows the guys to have longer heat times, up to 40 minutes per heat, yet still shaves running time off the event. At Pipe the heats were only 30 minutes in duration, the guys have 15 minutes without priority then switching to priority for the second half of each heat. It worked a treat; there was fantastic, free flowing surfing, lots of action for the spectators and a great final.

For the competitors this situation throws up a different set of challenges. The guys in the first heat, Dean Morrison, Luke Munro and Daniel Ross, are basically on call every morning, and with the event forced to eke out any pulse, they have to be ready for battle. That's a tough call; especially when the days are spent kicking back or fishing or kayaking or finding a little reef pass.

Being the start of a back to back South Pacific leg, the stakes are high coming into Teahupoo. With Kelly Slater dominating the Oz leg for two wins out of two, the chase is well and truly on. Bede Durbidge has a career best start going on, plus he won the dual heat Pipe Masters. World Champion Mick Fanning is on the next grid, a second here last year bolstering his odds, while Andy, Taj, Joel and Jeremy Flores are a win away from truly contending.

Depending on what the ocean throws up during the period, different sets of challengers come into the picture. Obviously full throaty Teahupoo brings Damien and {{{CJ}}} Hobgood into the frame. They are both total masters out here and definitely have developed a winning culture during this leg. Bobby Martinez and Fred Pattachia are hot at Chopes, and the backside brigade is ably led by Andy, Bruce and Kelly.

Let's hope something happens towards the end. Good luck to all.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, Les Cavaliers in Anglet, France plays host to the Oxbow WLT presented by Orange. This event pits the world's premier longboard aficionados against each other head to head in the first of two World Championship events that make up the ASP World Longboard Tour of 2008.

Working with the massive tides and a cute 3' of clean swell, organizers have worked their way through the obligatory 3 man heats of Round 1 (it is a Men's WCT format) and are now into the elimination phase. This is a critical stage, a 33rd virtually wipes out any chance of claiming this years World Crown, so big names like Hawaiian veterans Duane de Soto and Dino Miranda join Aussie stars Josh Baxter and Grant Thomas in the trenches trying to avoid relegation. Other well known longboarders trying to advance into the seeded Rd 3 are Brazilian's Alex Salazar and Eduardo Bage, France's Jonathon Larcher and Edouard Delpero and Japan's Anri Nabeshima.

Defending World Champion Phil Rajzman, after being dispatched to Rd 2 by the man he deposed as World Champ Josh Constable, fought his way back to the winner's side of the ledger with a comfortable victory over US surfer Brad Vetter. Danilo Rodrigo won a hard fought battle over former 3 times World Champion Rusty Keaulana and another notable, Taylor Jenson, who was ambushed by British surfer Ben Skinner, posted an impressive two wave total of 15.75 to right the ship over local French surfer Damien Castera. Another couple of surfers of interest will be rising Aussie talents Harrison Roach and Bryce Young, who are pitted against Eugene Teal representing Japan and Jonathon Larcher respectively. The Young/Larcher match-up could be the heat of the round.

Well, results are in and Bryce Young has won through to a showdown with Romain Maurin. The remaining Rd 2 heats were run off yesterday and some big scores were posted, led by Harrison Roch on 18.40, Dino Miranda's 15.25, Duane de Soto 16.00 and great two wave combo's by Cole Robbins & fellow US surfer Tom Lloy, Brazil's Alex Salazar and Grant Thomas.

Pretty much all the other title contenders won through rather convincingly. The surprise packet was France's Antoine Delpero who high scored with 16.{{{90}}}, followed by Harley Ingleby(16.00), Ben Skinner(15.50) and 3 times champion Colin McPhillips(15.25). A host of guys posted respectable winning scores averaging in excess of 7 points per ride, including Troy Mothershead(USA), Josh Constable, Ned Snow(Haw), Kai Sallas(Haw) and Jared Neal(Aus). One of the most exciting showdowns of the day featured sparring partners Bonga Perkins and Duane de Soto, with Bonga grinding out a victory and bypassing the sudden death losers round.

The creme de la creme of World Longboarding are lining up for battle in Round 3, with South Africa's Mathew Moir, Aussie Jackson Close and France's Romain Maurin all booking safe passage courtesy of opening heat wins. There are some smashing match-ups, Taylor Jensen vs Kekoa Uemura, Danilo Rodrigo vs Dino Miranda, Ned Snow vs Duane de Soto and Colin McPhillips Vs Kai Salas are all bellringers.

It is great to see Oxbow's continued support for ASP Longboarding, and the guys are going to put on quite a show, giving it their all to gain the advantage at the halfway mark of the World Longboard Tour. Good luck to all in Anglet.

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