Jordy Smith the Top Seed as World’s Best Surfers get set for Billabong Pro Tahiti
Billabong Pro Tahiti pres. By Air Tahiti Nui
Stop No. 5 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour
August 23 – September 3, 2010
Jordy Smith the Top Seed as World’s Best Surfers get set for Billabong Pro Tahiti
TEAHUPOO, Taiarapu/Tahiti (Saturday, August 21, 2010) – The greatest assemblage of surfing talent in history is converging upon the idyllic South Pacific island of Tahiti, home of the world’s heaviest wave, Teahupoo, for Stop No. 5 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Tahiti.
Completing the halfway point of the 2010 ASP World Tour season, the Billabong Pro Tahiti plays a vital role in both the hunt for the 2010 ASP World Title and the midyear field reduction from the ASP Top 45 to the Top 34.
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 22, current ASP World No. 1, is into his third season on the elite ASP World Tour, but enters into the Billabong Pro Tahiti as the No. 1 seed, a career first for the young South African.
“Most important for me is to realize that it’s not always going to be a walk in the park,” Smith said. “Being No. 1 is much like being No. 2, 3 or 4 as there is still a long way to go this season. I am working heat to heat, and that is really all that I can do. My goals are to win heats and stay in range to win battles which, in the end, win the war. A win would be great.”
Despite having yet to net a solid result in Tahiti (a 17th in 2008 and a 9th in 2009), Smith’s growing familiarity with the wave gives him confidence moving forward.
“Teahupoo is known for its power and stands alone as one of the most unique waves in the world,” Smith said. “I don’t think there is any surfer on the planet who does not respect it, even if it’s breaking at a mid-range size. As perfect as it gets, it can still crush your dreams even if you favour big waves, and I don’t think anyone gets into a comfort zone out there. You can’t get too cheeky.”
With the added intensity of the midyear field reduction and the minefield of Teahupoo specialists lining the wildcard ranks, Smith understands the challenge awaiting him in this island paradise.
“The wildcards and lower seeds will be going all out to get themselves back into the Top 32 seeds for re-qualifying so I guess we are going to see some really good performances from them – or whoever for that matter,” Smith said. “If we go back and look at the veteran standout World Tour campaigners, maybe Kelly (Slater), Andy (Irons), the Hobgoods, among a few others, also with the mix of all the specialists could be dangerous. Even the local boys could possibly come away with a surprise win.”
Smith’s opening heat will be a real test of his competitive skills as he takes on two of Teahupoo’s standouts in former ASP World Champion (2001) C.J. Hobgood (USA), 31, and 2008 event runner-up and wildcard Manoa Drollet (PYF) in Round 1 of competition.
Mick Fanning (AUS), 29, reigning ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 6, has been a consistent performer thus far in 2010, but admits that not being a top seed in Tahiti is not necessarily a bad thing.
“I am not the top seed heading into Tahiti which may actually be a blessing,” Fanning said. “I think you need to avoid the wildcards in Tahiti as they are so dangerous. I am just going to try and put a smart event together and hope to get a solid result.
However, Fanning, the No. 4 seed in Tahiti, will have a wildcard in his Round 2 heat as he takes on the runner-up in the Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials, Tamaroa McComb (PYF), and in form 2010 ASP Dream Tour rookie Adam Melling (AUS), 25, who was runner-up to Jordy Smith at Jeffreys Bay in the last ASP World Tour event.
Bobby Martinez (USA), 28, current ASP World No. 8 and defending Billabong Pro Tahiti Champion, has historically been one of the strongest performers at Teahupoo, but the lethal goofy-footer remains cautious when considering his options for the 2010 instalment.
“Nothing is on my mind other than trying my best in the next event,” Martinez said. “There’s no point in thinking ahead of yourself. Every contest holds your hopes of winning a World Title so you’ve got to do the best in each contest or else there is no chance at all.”
Despite the certainty of hungrier performances from those looking to make the midyear field cutoff, the Californian maintains that everyone can be a threat at this level of competition, especially in Tahiti.
“I do think the lower seeds will be intense in Tahiti, but I expect that from everybody on this tour in every heat in every event,” Martinez said. “If you don’t give 100% in every event, you will not be here the following year so I think it’ll be a very interesting contest. That said, it’s like that every contest. Anyone and everyone is a contender in Tahiti. Nobody is a favourite and nobody is an underdog in my eyes. And it’s not just in this contest, but every contest. At this level, anyone can beat anyone.”
Martinez will face Jeremy Flores (FRA), 22, and Marco Polo (BRA), 29, in his opening round match.
Andy Irons (HAW), 32, former three-time ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 18, took a sabbatical from full-time competing in 2009 and his transition back to the competition singlet this season as yielded moments of brilliance amidst an overall building momentum.
“The season went the way I thought it would be – hard,” Irons said. Everyone is surfing really well and you basically can’t skip a beat or you’re off the tour. I’m feeling stronger and stronger at every comp. On my time off, I have been putting in some extra time in at the gym and I think it’s starting to pay off.”
A former winner at the Billabong Pro Tahiti, the Hawaiian’s performances at the treacherous lefthander have become the stuff of legend and Irons enters into this year’s event as the man to watch.
“Teahupoo is one of my favourite contests, that’s for sure,” Irons said. “I love the wave. I love the tropical vibe as well. It’s like being home for me. Of course, everyone is going to be charging at this year’s event regardless. The field reduction is a heavy thing and it weighs on everyone’s mind. Everyone wants to keep there job.”
Irons will take on former nine-time ASP World Champion and multiple Billabong Pro Tahiti winner Kelly Slater (USA), 38, and wildcard Heiarii Williams (PYF) in Round 1 of competition.
The major storyline threading its way through the upcoming Billabong Pro Tahiti is the mid-year field reduction of the ASP Top 45 to 34 (Top 32 finishers plus two wildcards) following the battle at Teahupoo.
Durban’s Travis Logie is one of those on the cusp of re-qualifying and is currently in a three-way tie for the No. 30 ranking. With another five potential qualifiers one spot back ranked equal 33rd, Logie needs to win at least one heat at Teahupoo to give himself a solid chance of staying on the 2010 ASP World Tour.
Logie competed four times in Tahiti while campaigning on the Dream Tour between 2005 and 2008, twice winning his Round 1 encounters and reaching Round 3 on three occasions, including recording the highest heat tally in Round 2 in his debut season. He faces veteran Taylor Knox (USA) and Luke Munro (AUS) in his Round 1 heat this year.
A full breakdown of ASP World Title Rankings possibilities for the Billabong Pro Tahiti are available at ASPWorldTour.com
The waiting period for the Billabong Pro Tahiti will begin Monday, August 23 and runs through September 3, 2010.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, are calling for a slow start to the contest waiting period with a very modest mix of southwest swells providing contestable, but small scale, surf on Monday and Tuesday.
The Billabong Pro Tahiti will be webcast LIVE via http://www.billabongpro.com/tahiti10/. The time difference between Tahiti and South Africa is 12 hours with the decision on when to get the event underway made at approximately 7pm SA time daily
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS
Heat 1: Damien Hobgood (USA), Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), Jay Thompson (AUS)
Heat 2: Jadson Andre (BRA), Luke Stedman (AUS), Nate Yeomans (USA)
Heat 3: Bobby Martinez (USA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Marco Polo (BRA)
Heat 4: Dane Reynolds (USA), Tom Whitaker (AUS), Blake Thornton (AUS)
Heat 5: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Roy Powers (HAW), Tim Reyes (USA)
Heat 6: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 7: Mick Fanning (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS), Tamaroa McComb (PYF)
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Manoa Drollet (PYF)
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT), Tuamata Puhetini (PYF)
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA), Andy Irons (HAW), Heiarii Williams (PYF)
Heat 11: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Dusty Payne (HAW), Drew Courtney (AUS)
Heat 12: Owen Wright (AUS), Brett Simpson (USA), Neco Padaratz (BRA)
Heat 13: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Tanner Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 14: Michel Bourez (PYF), Dean Morrison (AUS), Mick Campbell (AUS)
Heat 15: Taylor Knox (USA), Luke Munro (AUS), Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 16: Chris Davidson (AUS), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Ben Dunn (AUS)
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The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) is the governing body of professional surfing. Crowning surfing’s undisputed world champions since 1976, the ASP sanctions the following tours: the ASP World Tour, the ASP Women’s World Tour, the World Qualifying Series (WQS) and the World Longboarding, Junior and Masters Championships. The ASP is dedicated to showcasing the world’s best surfing talent in a variety of progressive formats and has revolutionized the way the world watches surfing via their webcasts. The organization is divided into seven different regions: Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, Hawaii, North America, and South America.