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Jeremy Flores Triumphs in Tahiti : De Souza Retains Rankings Lead

August 29th, 2015
Jeremy Flores captured his second elite tour victory at the Billabong Pro Tahiti Photo: WSL / Robertson

Jeremy Flores captured his second elite tour victory at the Billabong Pro Tahiti Photo: WSL / Robertson

Surfing Column for Independent on Saturday – 29 August 2015

By Paul Botha

Jeremy Flores clinched the prestigious Billabong Pro Tahiti title at the storied surfbreak of Teahupo’o on Tuesday, defeating reigning World Champion and defending event champ Gabriel Medina in the final.

Flores’ victory was all the more remarkable as it came in his first contest appearance since suffering an horrific head injury while free-surfing in a remote area of Indonesia in June. He had to be airlifted out and was then flown straight to France for treatment.

Flores wore a helmet while competing in Tahiti to prevent any further injury on the shallow, razor-sharp coral reef that lies just below the surface at Teahupo’o. The Reunion Island born Frenchman also was very selective, only taking two waves in the difficult to read two metre hollow surf during the final.

He recorded a near-perfect score of 9.87 out of 10 on the first and then adding a 7.0 s while Medina rode eight waves, the best of which earned the Brazilian a 7.17.

Flores stellar run saw him defeat former World Champions Joel Parkinson of Australia and Floridians Kelly Slater and CJ Hobgood on his way to the final and them jump five places to No. 7 on the rankings.

Adriano de Souza of Brazil retained the Jeep rankings leader’s yellow jersey when he and his closest rivals, Australians Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson, all bowed in round three. Owen Wright, who finished equal third with Hobgood, overtook Wilson and moved into third spot with the top five separated by a slender 1 500 points.

Durbanite Jordy Smith has slipped to No. 23 and outside the top 22 who automatically re-qualify for the elite tour next year. Smith injured his knee in Rio de Janeiro in April, missed Fiji and then returned for J-Bay, only to hurt his back which saw him withdraw from Tahiti.

The good news is that the next event is at Trestles in California where Smith is the defending champion and near to the home he set up in San Clemente last year. After Trestles the Tour stops in France and Portugal, where Smith has posted excellent results in past seasons, before ending at Pipeline in Hawaii in December.

The country’s emerging crop of pro competitors have been busy on the Qualifying Series with Umhlanga’s Beyrick de Vries moving up to eight spots to No. 35 on the QS rankings after an excellent third place finish in the Vans Pro at Virginia Beach,USA.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the North Atlantic, the likes of Jeffreys Bay’s Dylan Lightfoot and Matt McGillivray and Durbanites David van Zyl and Slade Prestwich have shown impressive form in both QS and Pro Junior events on the European leg of the series that sees the top 10 in the yearend rankings qualify for the Championship Tour.

Durban’s Shaun Tomson, the 1977 World Champion whose photos adorned the walls of thousands and surfers, both male and female, during the 1970’s and ‘80’s, turned 60 last week. The country’s most influential international surfer, now a motivational speaker, author and movie producer, lives with his family in Santa Barbara, California.


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