Event No. 5 of 11 of the 2011 ASP World Title season, the Billabong Pro Tahiti has enjoyed a historic run of swell for the event, with the world's best surfers pushing the limits of paddle-in surfing at the infamous lefthander and locking in some incredible rides.
Jeremy Flores (FRA), 23, current No. 15 on the ASP World Title rankings, became the third surfer in history to lock in a Perfect 20 heat total in his Round 5 bout against an in-form Michel Bourez (PYF), 25, this afternoon.
"I'm so stoked!" Flores exclaimed. "What's on my mind right now is I just had a heat out there with Michel (Bourez), one of my best friends on tour and it's so big and perfect and we got some amazing barrels. I was saying the other day that I'd never got a 10 before and that I'd like to get one, and now I've gotten two in the same heat. I'm so stoked."
The young Frenchman has been the form surfer of the event thus far, conquering the biggest days with aplomb and navigating his way through the some of the heaviest backhand barrels with unparalleled poise.
"It's as good as it gets out there," Flores said. "They are just so hollow and just keep spinning forever. It's incredible. This is everything I ever wanted in a surf, let alone a contest. It's the best surf of my life."
Flores will take on Josh Kerr (AUS), 27, in Quarterfinal 1 when competition resumes.
Owen Wilson is warming as a favourite in the Billabong Pro Tahiti
Owen Wright (AUS), 21, current No. 9 on the ASP World Title rankings, was another to cement his reputation as one of the premier Teahupo'o specialists this afternoon with the second highest heat total of the year, a 19.77 out of a possible 20. In a hard-fought Round 4 bout with Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), 29, and Raoni Monteiro (BRA), 29, Wright built an impressive score line, opening with 7.77 before grabbing a 9.77 and finishing with a Perfect 10.
"I had a dream heat," Wright said. "I opened up with a pretty good barrel and then Freddy (Patacchia) got a bomb. I got a solid one after that and then I just slid into that perfect runner. The waves out here are just so sizey and meaty. I love it out here. It's the best wave."
Wright will battle Raoni Monteiro (BRA), 29, in Quarterfinal 4 at the Billabong Pro Tahiti.
Kelly Slater (USA), 39, reigning 10-time ASP World Champion, continued to breeze through the competition today, dispatching of lethal wildcard Ricardo dos Santos (BRA), 22, in Round 3 before blitzing his Round 4 heat.
"The waves are insane today," Slater said. "This is probably the best I've ever surfed it – it's just so big and perfect. It can be really intimidating when you're on the spot and a wave comes in. Everyone is hooting and hollering and you have to go. There's no other experience like it in surfing."
Kelly Slaters world title hopes have gained a huge boost with his progression through to the Quarterfinals and the elimination of Joel Parkinson, Jordy Smith, Taj Burrow and Mick Fanning
Always one to push the limits of board design, Slater has opted to surf a quad-fin craft significantly smaller than the majority of his peers.
"I'm riding a 5'11"", Slater said. "My normal shortboard is a 5'9" so the board I'm riding out here is my step-up. There's been a lot of discussion regarding surfboards that work best out here. You definitely need enough foam to get in and under the ledge, but once you're in, you want to have a short enough board to maneuver around."
With the Top 5-rated surfers on the ASP World Title rankings already eliminated from competition today, Slater (current No. 6) stands to benefit significantly with a result in Tahiti.
Slater will take on Matt Wilkinson (AUS), 22, in the Quarterfinals when competition resumes.
Travis Logie’s entry into the Quarterfinals is his best performance at Teahupoo
Travis Logie (ZAF), 32, current ASP World No. 44, gained entry into of the Billabong Pro Tahiti with the withdrawal of Dane Reynolds (USA), 25. Looking to break into the top 32 on the ASP World Rankings before the September rotation, Logie is into the Quarterfinals and already looking at a solid result.
"I owe it all to my wife as I was wavering on whether or not to actually make the trip from Europe and she convinced me to come," Logie said. "I barely made it here in time for my first heat, have been surfing on borrowed equipment and this has been a huge result for me. Into the Quarterfinals, this is my best result ever here and hopefully it keeps going."
Logie will face Brett Simpson (USA), 26, in Quarterfinal 3 when competition resumes.
When competition resumes, up first will be Josh Kerr (AUS), 27, against Jeremy Flores (FRA), 23, in the opening Quarterfinal of the Billabong Pro Tahiti.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 6:30am to assess conditions for a possible 7:30am start.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, are calling for very solid surf this morning, with a decreasing trend through the day. We'll get a reinforcing pulse of new south-southwest swell on Monday, although the overall swell trend will be a slow fading one through early next week. Easterly trades continue to ease on Sunday, with light ENE/E flow early next week.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
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 20 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 18.13
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 11.84 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 11.56
Heat 3: Brett Simpson (USA) 17.33 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 14.00
Heat 4: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 15.50 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 15.14
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
QF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
QF 3: Travis Logie (ZAF) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
QF 4: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)