The Billabong Pro Tahiti, Stop No. 7 of 11 on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour (CT), recommenced today with the 12 heats of Round 2 completed in challenging three-to-five foot (1 – 1.5 metre) conditions at Teahupo’o.
Matt Wilkinson (AUS), current Jeep Ratings Leader, survived elimination in Round 2 against event wildcard Hira Teriinatoofa (PYF). Teriinatoofa took control of the heat with a 6.43 and a 7.07, but Wilkinson fired back with an excellent 8.00 barrel ride. Teriinatoofa, needing a 7.11, had one last opportunity in the dying seconds of the heat, but could not finish the ride to challenge the Australian. Wilkinson will advance to Round 3 where he will surf against Bruno Santos (BRA) in a heated Round 1 rematch.
“I came into Tahiti really psyched,” said Wilkinson. “I went out yesterday and John John [Florence] was in the heat before mine and he got some absolute nuggets. When I went out for my heat, I was so psyched but there was not a proper set in the heat and it was low-scoring. Bruno [Santos] got me and it was frustrating. Going in this morning, I knew it was small and slow, but when they come, there are still some beautiful tubes. I wanted to put some pressure on him. I got that one set that sealed the deal, so I am stoked.”
2016 WSL Rookie Alex Ribeiro (BRA) upset the competition today as he dispatched reigning WSL Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA). The heat saw low scoring rides, but the rookie stayed busy catching eight waves to the veteran’s three. With three minutes left in the heat, Ribeiro took the lead. De Souza only needed a 3.24 to regain control, but fell on his takeoff. De Souza will be eliminated in equal 25th place, his first Round 2 loss this year. The victory marks Ribeiro’s first Round 2 win of the 2016 season.
“I feel happy and stoked to make my heat today,” Ribeiro said. “The conditions out there were really hard. We were waiting and waiting, but there were no barrels coming. Luck was on my side and I am happy to make the next heat. I felt pressure going against Adriano [de Souza] because he is one of the best competitors in the world. The conditions were difficult and I knew I had to maximize my opportunities.”
“The waves are tricky today, but that is no excuse because we are professional athletes,” said De Souza. “We have to perform when it is amazing and when the waves are bad. We have to deal with whatever the ocean brings us. I will go back home and study what I did in this heat and come back strong for Lowers. Well done to Alex [Ribeiro]. He surfed well and best of luck to him and the rest of the team from Brazil.”
Keanu Asing (HAW) eliminated local favorite Michel Bourez (PYF) in Round 2 Heat 3. Asing got to work early in the heat with big carves and snaps to earn a 9.67 two-wave combined heat score. Bourez found a solid tube to earn a 5.70 and counter the Hawaiian. As the time wound down, Bourez searched for a section up the reef for the 3.97 needed to advance. Bourez was not able to find the required score. Bourez will leave the event with a 25th place finish, his worst result this season.
“I am glad I got a heat win,” said Asing. “You have to be smart out here when the conditions are like this. I was against Michel Bourez, who is the Tahitian prince out here. The whole channel is filled with Tahitians rooting for him, but I have to do what I have to do to stay on the CT. Whether I am doing bad on the rankings, I am just trying to do my best. I’ve come here to give it all that I have.”
Joel Parkinson (AUS) blazed through his heat against WSL rookie Jack Freestone (AUS) with a 14.00 combined score. Parkinson, former WSL Champion and event runner-up, posted a 6.67 and 7.33 to dominate the heat. The CT veteran will advance to Round 3 where he will face rookie Kanoa Igarashi (USA), who closed out the last heat of the day against Miguel Pupo (BRA).
“The last few years I have done pretty well here,” Parkinson said. “A couple of heat misses, but that is always expected, especially when conditions are like this. Teahupo’o is one of those places where you have to get in a good rhythm with it. It was hard to do in that heat but I just kept busy. I saw some bomb waves that came through, but just missed them. It is hard going against Jack [Freestone] because I watched him grow up and climb through the ranks. He is someone who I hope to pass the baton to, push and watch him do well.”
Heat 4 saw a heated battle between Julian Wilson (AUS) and 2016 WSL Rookie Ryan Callinan (AUS). Callinan put up a tough fight against Wilson, locking in one of the highest single wave scores of the day, an excellent 8.17. Wilson fired back with clean turns to earn a strong 7.17 and 6.67. On his last attempt, Callinan needed a 5.67, but just fell short with a 5.33. Wilson took the win by a narrow 0.34 margin over the rookie and will advance to Round 3.
“There are not that many opportunities out there and I just really wanted to start my heat well,” Wilson said. “Ryan [Callinan] took a few at the start and we were out of position for the best wave of the heat. I just had to wait for something that looked substantial and where I could get a barrel. That was a great heat against Ryan, who has been performing well all year. He is a good guy and I wish him all the best in the next event. I was happy to get away with a close one against a great competitor.”
Dusty Payne (HAW) scored the highest heat score of the day, a 14.27, which included the critical 7.10 that knocked out rookie Conner Coffin (USA) in the dying seconds of Heat 11. Payne will advance to Round 3 where he will face Josh Kerr (AUS), who won Round 2 Heat 9 against Stuart Kennedy (AUS).
“It probably was an exciting heat to watch,” said Payne. “Conner [Coffin] had a couple of good waves and I had a couple of good ones. We kept going back and forth. I made a priority mistake after going on that one wave and got an upper-cut to my chin. I am so stoked that last wave came. I was not sure if it would be a good barreling wave and it held open. Luckily I was able to sneak in.”
When competition resumes, up first will be Italo Ferreira (BRA) up against Keanu Asing (HAW) in the opening heat of Round 3.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, are calling for:
Stronger SSW swell looks likely to fill in Monday PM and into Tuesday with favorable winds and conditions. Surf eases Wednesday and Thursday. An increase in windswell and swell mix is possible for Friday and into next weekend but local wind conditions look poor at this point.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. local time for a possible 7:35 a.m. start.
Highlights from the Billabong Pro Tahiti will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.17 def. Hira Teriinatoofa (PYF) 13.50
Heat 2: Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 6.23 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 5.70
Heat 3: Keanu Asing (HAW) 9.67 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 8.57
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.84 def. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.50
Heat 5: Matt Banting (AUS) 10.93 def. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 8.33
Heat 6: Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.43 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 6.63
Heat 7: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 11.17 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 6.23
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.00 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 2.03
Heat 9: Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.17 def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 11.00
Heat 10: Nat Young (USA) 11.40 def. Davey Cathels (AUS) 10.10
Heat 11: Dusty Payne (HAW) 14.27 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 13.74
Heat 12: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 14.34 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.33
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 5: Nat Young (USA) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 6: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Bruno Santos (BRA)
Heat 7: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 8: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 9: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 10: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 11: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat 12: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)