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Thu, 15 August 2019

Could the old man of the sea make it lucky #7 at the Tahiti Pro presented by Hurley coming up at the infamous lefthand reef pass of Teahupo’o in six days? Contest preview by Spike.


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SIX SLATER SLOTS: Can King Kelly crack a seventh crown at Teahupo'o? Photo WSL / Cestari


Even at the age of 47 you can't put that feat beyond him. If it heaves, the barrel-riding nous comes out, and a guy who has won it six times has muscle and mental memory. So do others, like Brasilian Gabriel Medina (last year and 2014). Andy Irons (2002, 2010) has bagged two wins here to match Medina's sloppy seconds, as has Bobby "Tennis Tour" Martinez (2006, 2009).

Exuded the suitably schizophrenic combination of humility and hunger to winThe current Jeep Leaderboard rankings leader Kolohe Andino (USA) has severe talent, and while he has never won here, he is certainly due for a big one after finishing 5th, 3rd and 5th here over the last three years, the latter when Slater last won in 2016. Andino exuded the suitably schizophrenic combination of humility and hunger to win in the officially espoused quote: “It’s a place where I grew up watching guys like Andy (Irons) and Kelly (Slater) absolutely dominate. It’s a spot I really wanted to get good at and I love coming here. I’ve had some decent results in recent years, but I want a win. That’s always the goal and a win helps the Title campaign. Hope we get some solid surf.”

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CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST: This big tent has open skies and a thundering reef. Photo WSL / Cestari


Andino becomes the first Californian male to lead the pack at this time of the tour in 23 years since Shane Beschen in 1996. Interestingly, that year Beschen became the first (and only) to get three perfect 10 point rides for a 30 out of 30 in the then ASP three-wave scoring system, says Wikipedia.

And guess who was the first to score two perfect rides for a 20 out of 20 under the newer ASP two-wave scoring system? Slater, and it was at Chopes during the final of the Billabong Pro Teahupoo in May 2005.

For dwindling but ever-hopeful Saffa hopes, Jordy Smith (#6 on the Jeep Leaderboard) looks to gain ground in his hunt for a maiden world title, but must back up that plan with high scoring backhand tube riding to see off the likes of the competing pack all around him: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Italo Ferreira (BRA) and Kanoa Igarashi (JPN). In Round One, Jordy faces 2013 Chopes winner, the erudite, Shakespear-quoting Adrian Buchan.

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TIME TO SHINE: Jordy Smith will look to appease his ever-hopeful legion of fans. Photo WSL / Cestari


A pity for John John Florence (HAW), who clings on to #3 in the rankings despite missing two events. His ruptured ACL in Brazil means he will quietly slip further behind in the wake of the others as they clammer for the title. Rehab rather than re-entries lie ahead for the lanky blonde.

You can't discount Medina, reigning two-time WSL Champion and defending Tahiti Pro winner. Despite his stalled start to 2019 (back-to-back 17ths in Bali and Margaret River) the current #7 and defending Tahiti Pro winner comes off a win at JBay. He faces rookies Peterson Cristano (BRA) and Soli Bailey (AUS) in the opening heat of the Round 1.

Hurley, into their second year as presenting sponsor for 2019, is apparently excited to see the world’s best back at one of the critical waves on earth: “Teahupo’o is one of the most special places in the world. It’s an arena unlike any other, and has hosted some of surfing’s most spectacular performances and historical moments,” Jeff Hurley, said. “Hurley is thrilled to be the presenting sponsor of the Tahiti Pro, and we can’t wait to see the best in the world do what they do best.” Ho hum PR speak.

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UNDER OVER: View of a Place of Skulls and the tin hat it sometimes wears. Photo WSL / Poullenot


Injuries to John John, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITL) and Mikey Wright (AUS) mean space for Caio Ibelli (BRA), Francisco Morais (PRT), and Tahitian Matahi Drollet (PYF). Drollet will be placed into the draw once the trials are complete.

The two remaining places in the draw will be determined via the Tahiti Pro Trials, a 32-man, one-day trials event that will take place between August 16 and 18.

The Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o presented by Hurley opens on Wednesday, August 21 and runs until Sunday 1 September. Check out www.WorldSurfLeague.com.


Seeding Round (Round 1) Match-Ups
Heat 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Peterson Cristanto (BRA), Soli Bailey (AUS)
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 3: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Adriano de Souza (BRA)
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), TBD
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Joan Duru (FRA), TBD
Heat 6: Kolohe Andino (USA), Yago Dora (BRA), TBD
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA), Deivid Silva (BRA), Francisco Morais (PRT)
Heat 8: Ryan Callinan (AUS), Willian Cardoso (BRA), Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 9: Julian Wilson (AUS), Michael Rodrigues (BRA), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 10: Michel Bourez (PYF), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Griffin Colapinto (USA)
Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS), Wade Carmichael (AUS), Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 12: Conner Coffin (USA), Seth Moniz (HAW), Jack Freestone (AUS)

Tahiti Pro Past Winners
2018: Gabriel Medina (BRA)
2017: Julian Wilson (AUS)
2016: Kelly Slater (USA)
2015: Jeremy Flores (FRA)
2014: Gabriel Medina (BRA)
2013: Adrian Buchan (AUS)
2012: Mick Fanning (AUS)
2011: Kelly Slater (USA)
2010: Andy Irons (HAW)
2009: Bobby Martinez (USA)
2008: Bruno Santos (BRA)
2007: Damien Hobgood (USA)
2006: Bobby Martinez (USA)
2005: Kelly Slater (USA)
2004: C.J. Hoobgood (USA)
2003: Kelly Slater (USA)
2002: Andy Irons (HAW)
2001: Cory Lopez (USA)
2000: Kelly Slater (USA)
1999: Kelly Slater (USA)

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