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Redemption Song: Bobby Martinez Wins Billabong Pro Tahiti

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Entering the 2009 year on the ASP World Tour sans a major sponsor probably isn’t something Bobby Martinez ever anticipated taking place. However, when a well-publicized contract dispute with longtime sponsor Reef sent the two their separate ways, that’s exactly where the Santa Barbara, Ca. surfer found himself. Driven to once again prove himself as one of the top all-around surfers in the world, sponsored or not, Bobby Martinez claimed another WCT victory at Teahupo’o yesterday by beating out Taj Burrow to win the 2009 Billabong Pro Tahiti.

bobby martinez billabong pro

The win is the second for Martinez at Teahupo’o and his fourth world tour victory overall. From start to finish, Bobby surfed with as much poise, patience, style and confidence as I’ve seen him surf a ‘CT event in quite some time. While Taj was relentless in the final heat, Bobby Martinez was just way too in sync with the wave at Teahupo’o for Burrows to even have a shot. Even with the dominant performance, Martinez’ humble nature shined through in his post-victory comments. “I got lucky finding the good waves and things just seemed to work out for me today,” said Martinez. When GT asked him about the hefty cardboard check that was heading his way, Martinez was quick to let him know that today’s win at Teahupo’o was about much more than the financial reward. “I didn’t start surfing to make money. It’s about the feeling the feeling I feel right now. The money could never overcome the experience of having this feeling.”

A huge congratulations goes out to Bobby Martinez- winner of the 2009 Billabong Pro Tahiti.

*On a side note- I’d also like to thank Billabong for pairing up Joel Parkinson and Andy Irons in the commentary booth, even if it was for just one heat. The combo of A.I. and Parko was classic and made for some truly golden exchanges.

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Back On: Plenty of Action in Tahiti During Billabong Pro’s Downtime

Monday, May 18th, 2009

If it seems like it’s been forever since the Billabong Pro Tahiti first got underway…it pretty much has been. Between tricky winds and a crossed up swell pattern, Billabong’s contest director Luke Egan has had a hell of a time making the decision to pull the trigger on Rd. 2. Considering he had Billabong’s cash crop surfers Joel Parkinson and Andy Irons scheduled to surf the second and third heats once the call was made, you have to imagine Egan has had all the input he could possibly want or need. Nonetheless, the event is finally back on. Conditions at Teahupo’o aren’t exactly what we’ve come to expect from the Tahitian beast, however they are expected to improve as the day goes on.

billabong pro 2009

While Mother Nature’s fickleness has wreaked havoc on the Billabong Pro, Tahiti itself hasn’t been without excitement. The crew at Surfline has some smooth, visually stimulating footage available of super-sessions that have taken place in the downtime. The clip of Kelly Slater and Manoa Drollet’s session at a dream-like right has already reached legendary status. That’s been folllowed up with footage of A.I., Parko, Occy, and Slater blowing up a left not far from the contest site at Teahupo’o. This includes a shot of Kelly dropping in and getting covered up while surfing goofy-footed.

The beauty of what was taking place in the water and the majesty of Tahiti was accompanied with a bit of drama on land. Apparently a semi-secret meeting was held between the ASP and top 45. A few of the guys on tour aren’t thrilled with the new format and wanted to share their feelings regarding this issue. A post on The Extreme Scene summed up that situation quite well.

Having said all that, the Billabong Pro Tahiti is indeed back up and running at Teahupo’o. If you can’t make it to the water yourself, it’s always entertaining to watch a few of the world’s best go to work. You can see all of the live action here

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ASP World Tour- We Just Want to See the Best Surfers Surf the Best Waves

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

If I want to hear about records, statistics and in-game strategy, I’ll watch baseball and basketball. With surfing, all I really care about is getting the chance to watch the best surfers in the world surfing the best waves in the world. Hopefully someday we’ll have a format which allows that to happen much more often than the system currently being used by the ASP.

kelly slater teahupoo

Somewhere between Kelly Slater’s vision of a radical overhaul and Da Hui’s discombobulated criticisms of the ASP lies the very real truth that the Dream Tour is in desperate need of a makeover. The new format where the top 16 surfers get automatically seeded to the 2nd round was supposed fix some of what’s ailing the tour. Unfortunately, all it seems to have done is make a bad problem worse. Aside from the appearances of Andy Irons, Josh Kerr, Dane Reynolds and maybe one or two others; Rd.1 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti was weak and painfully boring to watch. If you were to put the Rd. 1 line-up of main event surfers side by side with the surfers who took part in the trials, an argument could very easily be made that the trials line-up contained much more talent. Clay Marzo, Mark Healey, Julian Wilson, and Bruce Irons…or Ben Dunn, Jihad Khodr, Nathaniel Curran and David Weare?

CUT THE FAT There are 45 guys on the Tour. That’s too many. Cut it in half. There are guys who lose in the second or third round at every contest. One didn’t win a single heat last year. F1 doesn’t have 45 cars on the track for a reason. There should be a competitive level at the top, and we don’t have that.” Kelly Slater

In his Rd. 1 victory over Jihad Khodr, Andy Irons did more than just remind everyone he’s still at the top of his craft, he also put the mile-wide disparity in skill level on display for everyone to see. Khodr had no business being in the water with the 3x world champion at Teahupo’o and was left trying to scrape up 4’s and 5’s on the inside after A.I. opened with an 8.67. This type of situation happens far too often on the Dream Tour and is exactly why they’ve automatically put the top 16 into Rd. 2. Maybe instead of pretending the back half of the top 44 actually belongs with the front, it’s time to trim it down and allow more opportunities for locals and wildcards to go up against the surfers being touted as the world’s best.

As a fan of surfing and someone who likes to see how far it’s progressing, I watch the webcasts to see the best surfers surf the best waves. Unfortunately, for now anyways, the system being used by the ASP doesn’t always allow for that to take place.

Posted in Surfing | 5 Comments »

“Money-Hungry Pig Idiots”: Da Hui Rips Billabong, ASP

Friday, April 24th, 2009

For those who have yet to witness, Da Hui has taken to YouTube to share their feelings regarding Billabong and the ASP. Their point of conflict lies with a trials format that only allows 1 local surfer into the main event of the Billabong Pro Tahiti; a far cry from the 16 spots allotted by the Pipeline Masters. In the letter addressed to “Tahitian surfers of the Tahitian Surfing Federation and all it may concern”, a spokesman for Da Hui eloquently refers to the ASP and Billabong as “money-hungry pig idiots” and informed the Tahitians that “its time to stick out your chests, not your asses.”

I’m not going to pretend to know the inner-workings of the ASP and Billabong’s arrangement with Tahiti or their apparent monopoly of Teahupo’o. And no one would argue that there isn’t more than just 1 local surfer capable of hanging with and beating anyone on the Dream Tour. All you need to do is look at Manoa Drollet’s brilliant 2008 performance as evidence of how talented and dialed in the native surfers are when it comes to their wave. Over the years, Billabong has no doubt reaped a hefty reward from the natural wonder that is Teahupo’o. Opening the door for a few more local surfers to prove themselves under the bright lights of the ASP World Tour would certainly go a long way to further show their appreciation.

Where the stance taken by Da Hui gets confusing is their citing of the 16 wildcard spots allowed at the Pipeline Masters. They say that “all Polynesians should be allowed to have their talent shine and not have it blemished by foreigners”. Yet if you look at the list of the 14 wildcards who have already been confirmed for the 2009 event, it would be a stretch to say that even 50% would qualify as native Hawaiians or Polynesians. Considering it’s a system that’s left out past Pipeline Masters Rob Machado and Bruce Irons for this year’s event, it might not be a bad idea to re-evaluate the format being used at Pipeline as well. The ‘peer poll’ method used to select 6 of the final 16 especially leaves a lot to be desired. When Jamie O’Brien barely squeaks in at number 6 for the Pipe Masters, it might be time to go back to the drawing board.

While there’s no question changes could be made to allow more of the top native talent into the main event at Teahupo’o, I’m not exactly sure the Pipeline Masters has proven itself to be the gold standard on this matter.

Posted in Surfing | 3 Comments »

Kelly Slater Giving Surf Travel Tips

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Surf Travel

With the recent price gouging by most major airlines for checking surfboards, surf travel has been a hot topic lately. But usually those topics are focused on which airlines you should boycott and which still play friendly to us surfers. Despite the ridiculous fees, sometimes as much $300 per board each way (Delta), unless your content surfing your 1-2 foot sloppy beachbreak, getting away to score epic waves is still a must. And who better to give us the 411 on the best surf destinations then Kelly Slater?

Unlike other travelers, surfers are interested in surfer-friendly places to crash, snagging the best airline rates for surfboards and where to hang out.

Here’s Slater’s list of five great surfing meccas along with some hints about how to fully enjoy your search for the proverbial endless summer.

CNN, with the help of Slater, just published an article on 5 of the top surf spots in the world. These include; Pipeline, Cloudbreak, Teahupoo, Snapper Rocks, and Hossegor France. Included with each break are tips on where to stay, eat, hang out, how to get there, best time to go, and what the vibe is like. Oh, and each of them includes a couple nice little quotes from Kelly on what he likes about them.

And what would a surfing article from the mainstream press be without a little cheeseyness throw on top? Yes, the even include a helpful little table of surf slang so all those tourists can finally understand why everyone in Hawaii keeps calling them a Haole. These include; Bro-down, Gnarly, Goofy foot, Grom, Haole, Kook, Shredder, Sniveler, and sponger.

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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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Slater, Burrow, Durbidge, and Smith out at Billabong Pro

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

billabong pro manao drolletA lot of big names bowed out early at the Billabong Pro Tahiti today as Kelly Slater, Taj Burrow, Bede Durbidge, and Jordy Smith were all defeated in round 3 action at 4-6 foot Teahupoo.

Kelly Slater wasn’t looking too sharp again and was caught a couple times dropping in too deep, getting drilled in the head by one of the heaviest waves in the world. It didn’t matter though, as he suffered an early interference penalty and was literally surfing a heat he couldn’t possibly win. It seems there’s something about going up against local favorite Manoa Drollet that gets in Slater’s head, as he performed similarly when then two competed against each other in rd. 1 action. “This is just one of many events, you’re going to have throw-aways,” said Slater.

The highly anticipated matchup between Jordy Smith and Dane Reynolds saw Smith go down as Dane was on absolute fire. If he continues to surf like he did in round three, Dane could possibly in serious contention for his first ever ‘CT victory, only three events into his rookie season. He was looking good. CJ Hobgood is another surfer to watch this event. He posted an amazing 19.64 in round three and has been looking awfully good here at ‘Chopes. Seems super-confident as well when you listen to his interviews and he no doubt wants to keep the Billabong Pro Tahiti title in the Hobgood family.

Andy Irons and Joel Parkinson – who are both tied for current world #6 – can definitely smell blood. All five surfers ahead of them exited early from this event and now they’ll definitely be taking advantage and looking to gain as many points as possible. Look to both of these guys to make a run at winning this event.

kelly slatertaj burrowteahupoojordy smithbede durbidgewct

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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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