TEAHUPOO, Tahiti - The 2009 Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui is days away from commencing with the world’s best surfers descending upon the tiny town of Teahupoo at ‘the end of the road’ for Stop No. 3 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, running from May 9 – 20, 2009.
This year’s event will run the new format, seeding all competitors directly into man-on-man elimination heats, with the Top 16 seeded directly into Round 2 while the remaining surfers battle it out in Round 1.
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 27, current ASP World No. 1, has been in devastating form this season, collecting two wins in two events with an eye on an inaugural ASP World Title. The phenomenal natural-footer has demonstrated incredible focus thus far and is the frontrunner heading into Tahiti.
“The difference this year has been my understanding of what it takes to get the best out of myself and then my desire to do what it takes,” Parkinson said. “Making sure that every day, I am better prepared than what I was the day before and that preparation is specific to each contest that I compete in.”
Parkinson’s recent results at the Billabong Pro Tahiti have been impressive, netting equal 3rd place finishes in 2007 and 2008, establishing himself as a legitimate contender at Teahupoo.
“I do feel like over the years I have become more familiar with the wave and whilst Teahupoo is never predictable, it is reassuring to know that I have done the work here before.” Parkinson said. “I am excited to go back there this year and build on my results from the last two years.”
Despite his excellent results this season and his solid track record at the Billabong Pro Tahiti, Parkinson is wary of the many challenges he’ll face as the world’s best surfers angle for a result in Teahupoo’s ledging lefthanders.
“I think everyone will be in the mix for a win,” Parkinson said. “Remember, it is only the third event so everyone is still keen to do well – myself included. But on an individual side of things, the wildcards will be sure to shake things up like they have the first two events. Andy Irons will be challenging for the title. And of course Mick (Fanning) will be a threat because he is the best surfer right now and probably the hungriest.”
Parkinson is seeded directly into Round 2, where he’ll meet one of the advancing surfers from Round 1.
Fred Patacchia (HAW), 27, current ASP World No. 3, has been in sizzling form this season, racking up a 9th and a 3rd in his first two events on the ASP World Tour before collecting an impressive win at the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Prime 6.0 Lowers Pro in Southern California over the weekend.
“I’ve been really focusing on my backhand surfing,” Patacchia said. “My first couple years on tour, I felt like my backhand attack wasn’t good enough. I’d go into a heat feeling negative and defeated. This year, I’m feeling confident and more prepared. I’ve made some slight changes with my boards and that’s made a big difference. No big plans for Tahiti, just pull in deep and come out. Not much to it.”
Patacchia came as close as runner-up in Tahiti in 2006, but the young Hawaiian is keen to improve his personal best at the infamous lefthander in hopes of maintaining a solid footing in the ASP World Tour ratings.
“I love getting shacked,” Patacchia said. “Tahiti is one event I’d love to win. I don’t necessarily feel comfortable, but I know for a fact I feel more comfortable than most of the Top 45. I’d love to break into single digits. I’m sick of getting second. I want to win an event.”
Patacchia is seeded directly into Round 2, where he’ll meet one of the advancing surfers from Round 1.
Bruno Santos (AUS), XX, defending event champion who surfed from the trials to the title in 2008, will join former three-time ASP World Champion Andy Irons (HAW), 30, and Von Zipper Trials Winner Heiarii Williams (PYF) as wildcards in the 2009 Billabong Pro Tahiti.
Santos, Irons and Williams will face Kai Otton (AUS), 29, Jihad Khodr (BRA), 25, and Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), 23, respectively in Round 1 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti.
Surfline, official foreers for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, are tracking a head-high Southwest swell for the upcoming weekend before a stronger tem moves into place early the following week.
The Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui boasts a waiting period from May 9 through May 20, 2009.
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Tim Reyes (USA) vs. Mikael Picon (FRA)
Heat 2: Chris Davidson (AUS) vs. Ben Dunn (AUS)
Heat 3: Dean Morrison (AUS) vs. Nathaniel Curran (USA)
Heat 4: Chris Ward (USA) vs. Phillip MacDonald (AUS)
Heat 5: Drew Courtney (AUS) vs. Marlon Lipke (DEU)
Heat 6: Dane Reynolds (USA) vs. Aritz Aranburu (EUK)
Heat 7: Dayyan Neve (AUS) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 8: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) vs. Heiarii Williams (PYF)
Heat 9: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Bruno Santos (BRA)
Heat 10: Jihad Khodr (BRA) vs. Andy Irons (AUS)
Heat 11: David Weare (ZAF) vs. Dustin Barca (HAW)
Heat 12: Jay Thompson (AUS) vs. Greg Emslie (ZAF)
Heat 13: Tim Boal (FRA) vs. Nic Muscroft (AUS)
Heat 14: Tiago Pires (PRT) vs. Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat 15: Heitor Alves (BRA) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 16: Roy Powers (HAW) vs. Mick Campbell (AUS)
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. TBA
Heat 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. TBA
Heat 3: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. TBA
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. TBA
Heat 5: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. TBA
Heat 6: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. TBA
Heat 7: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. TBA
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. TBA
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. TBA
Heat 10: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. TBA
Heat 11: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. TBA
Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. TBA
Heat 13: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. TBA
Heat 14: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. TBA
Heat 15: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. TBA
Heat 16: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. TBA