Kelly Slater: he keeps going and going

The Quarterfinalists of the 2011 Billabong Pro Tahiti have been decided in eight-to-10 foot (2.5 – 3 metre) barrels exploding across the reef at Teahupoo. The world’s best surfers pushed the limits of paddle-in surfing at the infamous lefthander and locked in some incredible rides, a day after a memorable tow-in session that can be seen, here.

Jeremy Flores became the third surfer in history to lock in a Perfect 20 heat total in his Round 5 bout against an in-form Michel Bourez.

“I’m so stoked!” Flores exclaimed. “What’s on my mind right now is I just had a heat out there with Michel (Bourez), one of my best friends on tour and it’s so big and perfect and we got some amazing barrels. I was saying the other day that I’d never got a 10 before and that I’d like to get one, and now I’ve gotten two in the same heat. I’m so stoked.”

Owen Wright was another to cement his reputation as one of the premier Teahupo’o specialists this afternoon with the second highest heat total of the year, a 19.77 out of a possible 20.

“I had a dream heat,” Wright said. “I opened up with a pretty good barrel and then Freddy (Patacchia) got a bomb. I got a solid one after that and then I just slid into that perfect runner. The waves out here are just so sizey and meaty. I love it out here. It’s the best wave.”

Kelly Slater continued to breeze through the competition today, dispatching of lethal wildcard Ricardo dos Santos, in Round 3 before blitzing his Round 4 heat.

“The waves are insane today,” Slater said. “This is probably the best I’ve ever surfed it – it’s just so big and perfect. It can be really intimidating when you’re on the spot and a wave comes in. Everyone is hooting and hollering and you have to go. There’s no other experience like it in surfing.”

Always one to push the limits of board design, Slater has opted to surf a quad-fin craft significantly smaller than the majority of his peers.

“I’m riding a 5’11””, Slater said. “My normal shortboard is a 5’9” so the board I’m riding out here is my step-up. There’s been a lot of discussion regarding surfboards that work best out here. You definitely need enough foam to get in and under the ledge, but once you’re in, you want to have a short enough board to maneuver around.”

BILLABONG PRO TAHITI QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:

QF 1: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
QF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
QF 3: Travis Logie (ZAF) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
QF 4: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)