Blake Thornton (AUS), 25, current ASP World No. 44, kept his ASP Dream Tour hopes alive today, collecting his first career victory at the Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 1.
ASP / SCHOLTZ
Slater, Smith & Fanning advance…
Two-time and defending event champion, Bobby Martinez (CA, USA) has been eliminated from the fifth event on the 2010 ASP Men’s World Surfing Tour, the Billabong Pro, which commenced today in excellent 1.5m waves at Teahupo’o in Tahiti.
Despite some nice tube rides, Martinez was bundled out of the event in last place by little known Brazilian and 2010 ASP Tour rookie, Marco Polo (BRZ), who until today had never won a heat at elite level.
In one of the lowest scoring heats of Round 2, Polo hung on for victory, defeating the Californian on a two-wave combined heat total of 9.84 to Martinez’s 7.83.
The upsets continued for current world rated # 2 surfer, Taj Burrow (AUS) who was also eliminated from the Billabong Pro, Tahiti in last place by local wildcard, Manoa Drollet (PFY).
Drollet is a six-time Billabong Pro wildcard recipient and former finalist (2008) and he showed once again why he is considered among the world’s best at the infamous break, establishing an early lead against the Australian.
Burrow has been in superb form this season with two semi-final appearances and a win from four events, but could not find the rhythm he needed today against Drollet when it counted most.
Burrow lost to Drollet in front of the Tahitian’s proud local supporters 14.76 to 12.33 points and was handed his worst result of 2010.
Drollet will now meet current world rated #1, Jordy Smith (ZAF) in Round 3.
South African-born Smith was electric today, showing the aerial acrobatics that helped him to his maiden career victory at the last event held in home waters, the Billabong Pro, Jeffrey’s Bay.
Without a Teahupo’o tube in sight, Smith decided instead to take to the skies, performing his own version of a backhand air complete with judo kick – a manoeuvre more commonly seen on skateboard ramps.
Smith’s high-flying wizardry was enough to relegate his opponent, former Billabong Pro event champion, C.J. Hobgood (Fl, USA) to Round 2, while the South African advanced with the heat win direct to Round 3.
Also advancing today with heat wins were three-time Billabong Pro, Tahiti event champion and Nine-times ASP Men’s World Champion, Kelly Slater (Fl, USA), reigning ASP Men’s World Champion Mick Fanning (Gold Coast, AUS), 2007 Billabong Pro champion, Damien Hobgood.
Last highlight : all Europeans surfers won their heats in Round 1.
Billabong’s Tiago Pires (PRT) had a solid win against Taj Burrow (AUS, current N° 2 in the ratings) and ATN-VZ trials winner Taumata Puhetini (PYF). Always dangerous on his backhand, “Saca” found his way to Round 3 with a great final barrel ride.
To top this off, all other Europeans got through Round 1 and won their seats for Round 3. Jeremy Flores (FRA) played the hardball against 2009 Billabong Pro Tahiti champion Bobby Martinez (USA). Wilcard Joan Duru (FRA) had to deal with a tough heat against two serious contenders, Bede Durbidge (AUS,current N°5) and Kieren Perrow, but his “go-for-it” attitude paid off.
The Tahitian contingent will only miss one man in Round 3 as Michel Bourez, Manoa Drollet, Heiarii Williams and Tamaroa McComb will be still pleasing the local crowd further into the competition.
Organisers will reconvene tomorrow from 5:30am for a likely 6:30 start, when Round 2 action will recommence.
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Damien Hobgood (USA) 10.07, Jay Thompson (AUS) 1.83, Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 1.00
Heat 2: Luke Stedman (AUS) 10.33, Nate Yeomans (USA) 8.83, Jadson Andre (BRA) 4.40
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.16, Marco Polo (BRA) 5.33, Bobby Martinez (USA) 5.33
Heat 4: Blake Thornton (AUS) 15.50, Tom Whitaker (AUS) 12.00, Dane Reynolds (USA) 11.60
Heat 5: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 9.66, Tim Reyes (USA) 5.34, Roy Powers (HAW) 2.73
Heat 6: Joan Duru (FRA) 10.10, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 7.60, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 6.90
Heat 7: Tamaroa McComb (PYF) 14.77, Mick Fanning (AUS) 9.50, Adam Melling (AUS) 5.70
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.30, Manoa Drollet (PYF) 10.40, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 8.41
Heat 9: Tiago Pires (PRT) 13.66, Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.40, Taumata Puhetini (PYF) 10.43
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.00, Andy Irons (HAW) 13.97, Heiarii Williams (PYF) 12.57
Heat 11: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.50, Dusty Payne (HAW) 9.03, Drew Courtney (AUS) 0.20
Heat 12: Owen Wright (AUS) 11.27, Brett Simpson (USA) 8.53, Neco Padaratz (BRA) 7.73
Heat 13: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.93, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 11.46, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 8.43
Heat 14: Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.23, Dean Morrison (AUS) 9.00, Mick Campbell (AUS) 5.43
Heat 15: Luke Munro (AUS) 14.03, Travis Logie (ZAF) 12.94, Taylor Knox (USA) 9.93
Heat 16: Ben Dunn (AUS) 10.87, Chris Davidson (AUS) 7.90, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 6.92
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Manoa Drollet (PYF) 14.76 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.33
Heat 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.00 def. Taumata Puhetini (PYF) 7.27
Heat 3: Heiarii Williams (PYF) 14.03 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.43
Heat 4: Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.27 def. Tim Reyes (USA) 12.50
Heat 5: Marco Polo (BRA) 9.84 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 7.83
Heat 6: Nate Yeomans (USA) 12.73 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.00
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI REMAINING ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 7: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Jay Thompson (AUS)
Heat 8: Chris Davidson (AUS) vs. Drew Courtney (AUS)
Heat 9: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Neco Padaratz (BRA)
Heat 10: Andy Irons (HAW) vs. Tanner Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 11: Adam Melling (AUS) vs. Mick Campbell (AUS)
Heat 12: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 13: Roy Powers (HAW) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 14: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Dean Morrsion (AUS)
Heat 15: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 16: Dusty Payne (HAW) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)