TEAHUPO’O, Taiarapu/Tahiti (Wednesday, August 15, 2012) – The Billabong Pro Tahiti will host the ASP Top 34 for the 5th of 10 stops on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour, and with swell forecast for opening day, it’s likely that the world’s best surfers will do battle as early as tomorrow.
Michel Bourez (PYF), 26, current No. 17 on the 2012 ASP WCT ratings, is one of the heavy favorites at Teahupo’o in any conditions, but the powerful Tahitian
“For me, I treat this event like any other,” Bourez said. “Sure, there is an advantage to growing up here and having an event here. I’m comfortable out at Teahupo’o, but the guys in the Top 34 are all very good. Every heat is a challenge and I’m taking every round seriously.”
Bourez will take on Gabriel Medina (BRA), 18, and Adam Melling (AUS), 27, in Round 1 of competition.
Owen Wright (AUS), 22, current ASP WCT No. 9 and last year’s event Runner-Up, score major hero points last year, squaring off against 11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 40, in maxing conditions at Teahupo’o.
“Without doubt I am intimidated by Teahupoo,” Wright said. “I still get butterflies every time I’m contemplating taking off. It’s a crazy wave and there is always an element of risk, but I have practised my whole life surfing heavy waves down the South Coast in preparation, so I am as ready as I can be. My preparation for Tahiti this year has been pretty strong. I spent a good amount of time along the Bukit Peninsula in Bali working on my Tahiti boards with my shaper Parrish Byrne. We saw a few swells backing up and thought it was an ideal chance to iron out any chinks in the boards and get me prepared for Tahiti.”
Wright has drawn Alejo Muniz (BRA), 22, and rookie Yadin Nicol (AUS), 26, in the opening round of the Billabong Pro Tahiti.
Jeremy Flores (FRA), 24, current No. 11 on the 2012 ASP WCT ratings, was last year’s recipient of the coveted Andy Irons Award for stellar commitment in the face of challenging conditions. The young Frenchman has spent his entire life surfing reef passes and his passion for solid waves makes him a very real threat out at Teahupo’o.
Flores will face C.J. Hobgood (USA), 33, and Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), 30, in Round 1 of competition.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, are calling for longer period, inconsistent/lully SW swell filling in through the afternoon with 5-6’ faces and occasional max sets up to 7-8’. Local, shorter period south windswell in the mix to give the surf a jumbled up and somewhat stormy feel.
Event organizers will convene tomorrow morning at 7am to assess conditions for a possible 7:30am start.
When competition commences, up first will be John John Florence (HAW), 19, Miguel Pupo (BRA), 20, and Patrick Gudauskas (USA), 26, in the opening heat of Round 1.
The Billabong Pro Tahiti will be webcast LIVE via http://www.billabongpro.com
For more information, log onto www.ASPWorldTour.com
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: John John Florence (HAW), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS), Damien Hobgood (USA), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS), Brett Simpson (USA), Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Willian Cardoso (BRA)
Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS), Ricardo dos Santos (BRA)
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA), Travis Logie (ZAF), Alain Riou (PYF)
Heat 7: Josh Kerr (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 9: Owen Wright (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Heat 10: Julian Wilson (AUS), Heitor Alves (BRA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 11: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Michel Bourez (PYF), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 12: Jeremy Flores (FRA), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)