Monday 17 August 2015 | Published in Regional
Only eight of the 12 heats of Round 1 were completed on the first day. The event was stopped due to inconsistent surf. Nevertheless, there was time for a few results surprises.
Kelly Slater posted the highest heat total of the day and he is through to Round Three. The Floridian suffered a massive wipeout, but he managed to find the best barrels.
“That one wave lurched and landed on my back. It slammed my face into the water, and I thought I lost a tooth. I’m surprised I didn’t hit the bottom.”
Slater, who arrived in Tahiti just 12 hours prior to his heat, looked confident and at ease in the lineup despite the heavy wipeout.
The win sent Slater directly to Round Three while Jadson Andre and Brett Simpson, who were unable to find any solid scores, move on to elimination Round Two.
Mick Fanning put fear behind his back and delivered a competent performance in the wind-blown Teahupo‘o barrels.
The world number two surfer breezed through the first round.
The Australian fought shark attack paranoia and sent Adam Melling and Tahitian Taumata Puhetini to Round Two.
“It was great to get back in the singlet and focus on surfing again. There’s been so much hype about the incident in J-Bay and so much media attention and I just want to move on. It happened and will be one of those stories when I’m old,” explained Fanning.
Fanning’s good mate and fellow J-Bay finalist Julian Wilson was also strong, winning his heat to advance to round three.
Ratings leader Adriano de Souza of Brazil was delivered an upset defeat. Dangerous wildcard and 2008 event winner Bruno Santos, also of Brazil, stole the lead from De Souza in the final minutes and advanced directly to Round Three.
Michel Bourez of Tahiti will join De Souza in elimination Round Two.
The 2016 Billabong Pro has so far at best been called “challenging”.
Surfingmagazine.com gave this commentary on the first day of competition: “No words like stellar, spectacular, amazing, fantastic, fabulous, fantabulous, wild, crazy, insane, nuclear, hot, sexy, sweaty or perfect can be used.
“The 2015 Billabong Pro Tahiti started today and it was, uhh, pretty average.
“Unless you want to talk about Mick Fanning’s return to competition – the guy got two mid-range scores, won his heat and didn’t get bitten by a shark.
“Call it triumphant, heroic, marvelous, unbelievable, sportsmanlike, bold or daring if you must. We’ll just call it surfing.”
Round One heats were finalised in difficult conditions again yesterday morning and saw the New Zealander Ricardo Christie – along with Brazilian star Gabriel Medina – sent to Round Two after placing third in a heat won by Brazilian Italio Ferreira.
Round Two sudden death heats continued yesterday.