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Billabong Pro J-Bay: Kelly Slater Wins…. Again

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Kelly Slater Wins Billabong Pro JBayWhile we are only about half-way through the 2008 ASP World Tour, we are already becoming witnesses to one of the all-time great performances throughout the course of the surfing year. Eight-time world champion Kelly Slater defeated last year’s champ Mick Fanning in the final of the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay earlier today for his fourth victory at the prestigious South African break.

Slater has now won 4 out of the first 5 events in 2008, and with the victory at J-Bay he has all but essentially sealed his record 9th world title. A gracious Slater had this to say following his 38th tour victory – “I didn’t realize I was going to be overwhelmed by it, but I haven’t been in this position before, at this point of the year, with this many wins, there are great things going on in my life so I’m just trying to soak it up and be appreciative.”

The morning started off with classic Jeffreys Bay conditions keeping the 4-6 ft swell in almost perfect shape. However, after just a few heats in the morning, the wind turned onshore for the quarters, semis, and final. Both Slater and Fanning had issues adjusting to the bump and crumble that was being offered up. “It was really challenging,” Slater said. “You really have to change your frame of mind because we were looking at waves the other day where we were getting 30-45 second rides and doing six to eight maneuvers and now we’re looking at waves where if you get three moves it’s a good score. It’s really hard to change your perception on how you are going to surf a wave. I didn’t really catch on until the very end of that heat when I realized I could get a three move wave and probably seal it.” Fanning appeared uncharacteristically sloppy, even falling on waves that held opportunities for high scores. While the Billabong broadcast team wondered aloud if it was equipment issues, an obviously Fanning quickly put that all to rest. “I surfed like an idiot,” Fanning said. “I had the opportunity to win the whole thing and I fell and I don’t know why. I don’t know what happened, I just had a shocker. I was feeling great, I just couldn’t stay on my board.”

Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Kelly Slater

With the rest of the Top 44 now with deflated hopes for a world championship, it will be intriguing to see how the year plays out. Aside from Fanning’s bid to repeat, Taj Burrow, Joel Parkinson, and Andy Irons all came into the year with very high aspirations to come out on top. They are all very aware of the difficult, if not impossible, task that now lies in front of them. “Kelly wins another final, enough said, unbelievable.” Burrow said. “The door is really closing as far as I can see it. He’s got a ridiculous amount of keepers now so… how many events left? Not enough!”

It sure does appear that way. Congratulations Kelly Slater, winner of the 2008 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay!

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2008 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay: Update

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Billabong Pro Jeffreys BayRounds 1 and 2 of the 2008 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay have come and gone. The second straight lay day has been called and surfers and event organizers alike are licking their lips with the forthcoming swell said to be on its way by forecasters. While the opening rounds of the Dream Tour events may at times lack the drama and story-lines of the later rounds, Jeffreys Bay showed once again why it is one of the premier waves in the world. Watching some of the worlds best on one of the worlds best in the opening rounds has been incredible to see. The surfing that has taken place to this point is only a sign of things to come as the event moves into the business rounds.

The opening round performance of Taylor Knox was a site to behold. The 37 yr. old out of Carlsbad, Ca. looked as youthful as ever and appeared to be in complete harmony with J-Bay. Knox’s speed and synergy with the wave netted him the highest combined heat score in Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay history with an almost perfect 19.70. World No. 2 Joel Parkinson did his best to match the level that Knox was performing at, thus providing the South African crowd, as well as all the webcast junkies watching at home, one of the classic 1st round performances of all time. “It’s really enjoyable to be in a heat like that, it was unreal.” Knox said. “It was exciting, because Parko got the first wave and I could see that it was such a good wave and I knew that once it went by me it would barrel. Right then I saw a big one out the back and just thought, ‘I’m going to get barreled.’”

Round 1 also saw the unusual opening round match-up of Bruce and Andy Irons in the same heat. With Bruce set to leave the WCT following the year, there’s a high probability that this is one of the final time the Irons brothers will go head to head in a ‘CT event. The match-up saw Bruce narrowly edge out his big brother and move onto Rd. 3. However the 3x world champion Andy took out his Hawaiian counterpart Granger Larsen on his way to a 3rd round meeting with Brazil’s Heitor Alves.

Stay tuned for the call on rounds 3 and beyond of the 2008 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay.

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Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Upon Us

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

jeffreys bayThere are few breaks in the world that contain the prestige and history of South Africa’s Jeffreys Bay. Its a wave unlike any other that has been known to bring out the best in many of the greatest surfers to ever step foot on a board. Tomson, Curren, Occy, Slater, and so many other surf legends have seen J-Bay be the site of some of their most impressive and inspired performances. And now with the arrival of the 2008 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay upon us this week, we have another opportunity to witness a few of the worlds best on one of its greatest waves.

The holding period for the Billabong Pro J-Bay, the fifth of 11 events on the 2008 ASP World Tour, is set to open on July 10. While for us it means a chance to see the top 44 and others do work at Jeffreys Bay , for everyone taking part in the tour it only means one thing – possibly the last hope to putting an end to Kelly Slater cruising through to his 9th world championship.

Current world No. 2, Joel Parkinson knows this better than anyone, and is even hoping for the Aussie legend Mark Occhilupo to help stop the damage that Slater has been inflicting. “When it comes down to perfect 6 foot J-Bay, you know Occy has still got it. He is in the trials, so hopefully he gets into the main event and helps the rest of us by taking Kelly out early,” said Parko. Parkinson himself is extremely well suited for the long burly right, and Slater knows that he will be one of his biggest obstacles standing in front of his 4th win at J-Bay, as well as his fourth victory on the ‘08 tour. “JBay has been one of my best events,” Slater said. “I’ve had three wins out there, but it’s obviously a good event for Taj, a good event for Parko, a good event for Andy and it suits Bede really well.”

The stop at Jeffreys Bay has solidified itself years ago as one of the truly special events of each year. The chance to see another round of memorable performances is something that shouldn’t be passed up. Even those who aren’t huge WCT followers can appreciate the magic of seeing these guys carve up the endless walls that J-Bay is known and loved for.

You can give it a peep for yourself as the 2008 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay will be webcast live on aspworldtour.com as well as billabongpro.com

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Billabong’s Acquisition of Sector 9

Monday, July 7th, 2008

sector 9Last weeks announcement of Billabong’s acquisition of San Diego based skateboard brand Sector 9 has generated quite the buzz as well as a wide variety of reaction among the boardriding communities. Sector 9 has built itself on the production of incredibly solid, stylish longboards and has in many ways become the face of the longboard explosion in the U.S. “Sector 9’s products, primarily its longboards, really differentiate it from other brands in the boardsports channel and have appeal to surfers, skateboarders and the broader youth market,” said Billabong CEO Derek O’Neill. “The company has not only proved the viability of the longboard segment, it has experienced sustained growth over the past decade and has become synonymous with the California boardsport lifestyle.” Acquiring one of the premier skateboard companies around obviously had left our friends at Billabong very excited and overflowing with optimism. But what does a transaction of this shape and magnitude mean for you and I?

It’s understandable that many who have cut their longboarding teeth on Sector 9 boards will look at this deal with a fair amount of skepticism. The fear that Sector 9 will lose the identity that has made it what it is today and become absorbed into the Billabong brand is a normal one. However if a deal like this was inevitable for Sector 9, I’m not sure there is a better fit than with the Billabong team.

The first positive sign is that Co-founders and owners Steve Lake and Dennis Telfer and co-owner Dave Klimkiewicz are being retained as part of the acquisition in their current roles. The Sector 9 masterminds are highly respected among the industry and are as passionate about their brand as any. Keeping them at the helm will go a long way to keeping the quality and identity if Sector 9 intact. The opportunity to combine their forces with Billabong has them looking forward to a growth in the international markets. “While Sector 9 continues to maintain solid growth in the US, we are most excited at the prospect of combining our brand’s growing international awareness with Billabong’s proven global distribution network,” said Lake.

With this growth will come the need for new designs, shapes, and jut overall inspiration for longboards that have already proven their worth over the last decade. While I understand the hesitancy of the many who have come to know and love Sector 9 to get amped about a deal like this, there is quite a bit to look forward to with the joining of forces of two of the action sports leading brands. Hopefully for Sector 9, the best is yet to come.

Posted in Brands | No Comments »

Billabong’s Freewave Challenge Moves to the Mainland

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Timmy Reyes BackdoorThe second edition of Billabong’s Freewave Challenge is set to kick off on the continental U.S. on June 20th. As summer officially kicks off, so does the follow-up to the inaugural virtual surf contest put on by Billabong this past winter in Hawaii. You gotta think surfers who are looking forward to entering their clips are praying that Jamie O’Brien has no plans to make his way over from the islands to take part in this edition of the Freewave Challenge. O’Brien took both 1st and 2nd in the Best Performance Ride category, while Huntington Beach’s Timmy Reyes easily brought home the Best Tube Ride honors with a Backdoor shack that many called one of the North Shore’s best waves of the winter.

With the growing success of the Freewave Challenge concept as a showcase for the best surfing outside of typical surf contests, the event has evolved and added new categories. Video clips may be uploaded and entered in five different categories: Monster Maneuver, Small Fries (16 and Under surfers), Best Barrel, Heartbreaker (Female Performance) and the Longest Ride. A total of $40,000 in prize money will be awarded to the surfers and videographers with the most progressive and popular rides. Surfers and vidographers have until Sept. 22 to get their entries entered before the judging process begins.

This new style of format for a surf competition is exciting in that the door truly is opened for any surfer that wants to enter. Jamie O’ and Timmy Reyes were highly deserving of their wins in the Hawaii version of the event, but how rad would it be to see some unknown surfer step up and take a win in the mainland version of the Freewave Challenge? With the best of the best being on the North Shore for the winter, it made it unlikely for anyone to come out of the dark to pull it off. The pool of contestants is sure to be quite a bit larger and the door wide open for any surfer on the continent to make a name for himself in this version of the Billabong Freewave Challenge.

Summer is set to start. If you feel like you have what it takes and want to make some extra cash just for doing what you love, be sure to check out the rules and regs for the Challenge and get set to capture your best stuff.

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Bruno Santos Wins Billabong Pro Tahiti

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

billabong pro bruni santosIt was the wildcards, Manoa Drollet and Bruno Santos, that stole the show today at the Billabong Pro Tahiti. Ultimately it was Bruno Santos who won the event after defeating Teahupoo local Monoa Drollet in a very undramatic final. Big congratulations goes out to the Brazilian, Bruno Santos, as he was an absolute giant slayer defeating Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow, CJ Hobgood, and others on his way to winning one of the biggest events on the ASP World Tour.

It was a long-slow day at Teahupoo as one of the most notorious waves in the world failed to deliver any kind of a consistent swell. The heats throughout the day were very slow as the 2-3 ft swell was on the decrease which made for long waits between sets. Unfortunately, that left many of the surfers unable to find any kind of decent waves in their heats, often times seeing competitors catch one or less decent wave in a 30 minute period.

It’s unfortunate that a contest of this caliber at a break this heavy has to be decided in small waves like this. It would’ve been interesting to see what would have happened had mother nature cooperated. We can’t take anything away from Bruno Santos though as he rightfully deserves the victory he earned today. Here’s to hoping Fiji’s pumping!

teahupoowctasp world tourbillabong

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Billabong Pro: Mick Fanning & Jaime O’Brien Out

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

kelly slater billabong proFor the first time in 2 years, reigning world champion and current world no.3 Mick Fanning will finish a WCT event with the dreaded T-33 next to his name. Fanning was upset by Brazilian wildcard surfer Bruno Santos 10.00 to 9.17 in round 2 of a Billabong Pro that is really starting to liven up. “Things could be better,” Fanning said. “Every wave was a battle for fours and fives out there. They weren’t opening up and then I was either too wide or too deep – I couldn’t find the happy medium, but it happens. The waves were good, I wasn’t good.”

Fanning won’t be the only big name making a sooner than expected exit from Teahupoo. Jamie O’Brien had the unexpected misfortune of meeting Kelly Slater in rd. 2 following Slater’s round 1 loss to ‘Chopes-specialist Manoa Drollet. Kelly came out firing in their heat and O’Brien quickly found himself in an a combination hole that would lead him to sharing the same fate as Fanning following an 18.70 to 13.90 loss.

Kelly has now moved into rd. 3 where he will face the man responsible for putting him up against O’Brien in the first place, Manoa Drollet. “It’s excellent to beat Kelly,” Drollet said. “I feel bad, he was a bit pissed, but it’s a contest. I was lucky to get the best two waves of the heat, Kelly got one in the end and he almost came back. In this competition, the guy who gets the good waves is going to win the heat, and that was me today.” Drollet kept Slater out of position for most of their rd. 1 heat, forcing Kelly to take off deeper than he wanted do which resulted in the 8x world-champ getting pitched a time or two. Their rd. 3 match-up will surely see both surfers coming out ready for battle.

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Billabong Pro Tahiti Underway

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

2008 billabong pro tahitiAfter 5 days of waiting and watching, the 2008 Billabong Pro Tahiti is officially getting underway. The waves are in the 3 foot range and although it’s not the Teahupoo we’ve all come to love seeing, 3 foot swell here is still able to lay down a dirty-licking from time to time.

As the first heats are getting going there is still no sign of Kelly Slater anywhere in Tahiti. It has been assumed that Kelly will show up, but maybe the lack of swell has sent the WCT point leader chasing waves in some other part of the world. He’s scheduled to surf in heat 8 today against C.J. Hobgood and Manoa Drollett so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Looks like just another case of Kelly being Kelly.

Contest Director Luke Egan has been on pins and needles with each passing day of the holding period. The new swell is expected to continue building and has him as well as all of the competitors optimistic. The plan today is to cram in as much surfing as possible and hopefully begin moving into the 2nd round. That should make for one hell of a day and anyone interested in catching the action live can check it out here.

billabongasp world tourwctteahupoo

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Betting Odds for Billabong Pro: Check Jamie O’Brien

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

surfing bettingThis one’s for all of my degenerate gambling friends out there… you know who you are! Upon learning that bookmakers in the U.S. would be opening up their books and fielding bets on the 2008 WCT I decided to sign up for Surfing-Odds.com e-mail alerts which notify me of the listed odds in the days leading up to each event. My interest in the alerts wasn’t so much for the gambling aspect. In my very limited gambling experience, I’ve quickly realized I am a casino’s best friend and unofficially the worst gambler on the planet. What caught my attention though was seeing how and where they decided to place the odds as each particular event approached.

With the Billabong Pro Tahiti fast approaching, Surfing-Odds was right on cue with the odds for this event. After checking out the Teahupoo odds I thought I would pass on a couple of interesting bets for those who may be looking to lay some cash down on the upcoming event. They’ve even decided to get crazy on us and add a “to make the semi’s market.”

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2008 Billabong Pro Tahiti Right Around the Corner

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

2008 billabong pro tahitiWhen you’re a wave like Teahupoo, you don’t really need any hype thrown your way. With that being said, I’m throwing hype anyway. We’re just about two weeks out from the 2008 Billabong Pro Tahiti. And if the swell trends continue this could possibly be one of the all-time events at the bone-crushing left.

Teahupoo has made quite a name for itself in not much more than a decades time. The break that was once thought to be unsurfable, will be on display for it’s 10th WCT event From May 8-18 and as we covered previously, it has taken it upon itself to remind all surfers that it’s right around the corner with its thrashing of last years champ Damien Hobgood.

Those hoping to catch Kelly Slater in the ‘CT standings know how crucial it is do well at this event. If Slater locks this up, or even finishes in the top 5, his 9th world championship may be all but locked up. Mick Fanning knows this and is once again arriving early to get some practice time in. “Kelly had an amazing start and I had a lot of things happening,” Fanning said. “Really good things, but I have finally had some time to myself and I feel really excited about competing again. I’m looking forward to Tahiti. It is always a great event.”

Yep, we’re only two weeks away from the 2008 Billabong Pro Tahiti….

Past Billabong Pro Tahiti Champions:
2007: Damien Hobgood (USA)
2006: Bobby Martinez (USA)
2005: Kelly Slater (USA)
2004: CJ Hobgood (USA)
2003: Kelly Slater (USA)
2002: Andy Irons (HAW)
2001: Cory Lopez (USA)
2000: Kelly Slater (USA)
1999: Mark Occhilupo (AUS)

teahupoobillabongwctasp world tour

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