Bruce Irons: jumpin' jack flash

The world's best surfers are traveling to the heaviest lefthander for the 2012 Billabong Pro Tahiti.

The infamous South Pacific reef pass of Teahupoo will be expecting epic rides and endless barrels from August 16th-27th, where Kelly Slater will be defending his 2011 title.

Last year, the world surfing community saw a barrier-breaking tow-in session dubbed "Code Red" changing the perspective of impossible surfing. Now, all eyes are on the 2012 ASP world title race. Mick Fanning, 31, leads the rankings and is guarded about holding the frontrunner spot at this point in the season.

"The advantage is knowing that I'm in the race and I'm collecting the kind of results that could count toward a title," Fanning said. "I've had pretty average starts to the past few seasons and managed to finish pretty well so it feels good to have some early momentum for a change".

"Being at No. 1 at this stage though means very little, it's a long year and there's nothing separating me and the rest of the guys in the Top 10. I don't get too worried about who is chasing, I just try and collect big results at every stop."

Although an event runner-up in the past (2007), Fanning has been unable to crack the Quarterfinals in recent years – an issue he hopes to remedy this season.

"Tahiti's a tricky venue to do well even for the very best guys," Fanning said. "I'd expect the Hobgood brothers to be in the Final out there every year but it doesn't work like that".

"At a venue where one big barrel can turn a heat, there's always going to be upsets. So the biggest challenge is making sure you're on the best waves in the heat and you get yourself nice and deep in that barrel."