Marlon Lipke

The Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui has been called off for the day, with lumpy four-foot (1.5 metre) swell and onshore winds replacing the near-perfection of yesterday.

Stop No. 3 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Tahiti saw the opening 14 heats of the man-on-man elimination Round 1 completed yesterday, and with the projections calling for improved conditions in the coming days, event organizers opted to hold competition off for the day.

“We obviously don’t have the idyllic conditions that graced us yesterday with the swell a bit lump and the wind onshore,” Luke Egan, Billabong Pro Contest Director, said. “We’ve called competition off for the day, but are monitoring swell and winds for the coming days and it looks like we may be running again soon. We’ll be back tomorrow morning to make another decision.”

Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 6:30am to assess conditions for a possible 7am start.

When competition resumes, first up will be Heitor Alves (BRA), 27, against 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie Michel Bourez (PYF), 23, in Heat 15 of Round 1.

Surfline, official surf analysts for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, are calling for the current of Southeasterly swell to pulse through the day with variable winds before being replaced by a more favorable WSW swell on Tuesday and Wednesday with improved winds.

Highlights from yesterday’s Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui are available at http://www.billabongpro.com/

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Dean Morrison

The Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui, Stop No. 3 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, got underway this morning, with the world’s best surfers contesting the first 14 heats of the elimination, man-on-man Round 1 in pulsing four-to-six foot (2 metre) barrels on offer at Teahupoo.

Dean Morrison (AUS), 28, current ASP World No. 19, took today’s top honors as he displayed sensational form for his Round 1 win over 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie Nathaniel Curran (USA), 24. The Australian exhibited a preternatural rapport with the ledging Teahupoo lefthanders, netting an excellent 9.00 out of a possible 10 single-wave score en route to the highest heat total of the day (a 17.00 out of a possible 20.)

“I just try to position myself well and try to get the set waves or rather the best one in the set,” Morrison said. “Just try to read it right and get deep in the tube. The secret is actually not taking off at the peak, but a little behind the peak so that you can edge into it. Just take off and hold on – that’s all you can do.”

In addition to putting up the biggest scores of the day, Morrison also entertained the throngs of spectators in the channel with the most spectacular wipeout of the round, a late to cart-wheeling inside the tube before being blasted towards the shallow reef.

“That wave was probably pretty funny from the channel,” Morrison said. “It was a bit of a late and I should have came more over my front foot, but I was on my backfoot and did a few summersaults in there. Fortunately, I was pretty deep and didn’t hit the bottom.”

Recovering from a devastating hip injury that saw Morrison sit out the last several events of the 2008 ASP World Tour season, the progressive natural-footer is on the mend and looking to claw himself back to the top of the ASP Top 45 ratings. Despite a disappointing equal 33rd place finish at the opening event of the season, Morrison has since rebounded, collecting an equal 9th at the second event before putting in today’s sterling performance.

“My recovery has been pretty good,” Morrison said. “The last few months, that’s been my main focus, rehabbing. It’s been hard work, but it’s been worth it. I still don’t feel like I’m surfing at 100%, but I am getting there and I feel like I’m getting stronger every day.”

Andy Irons (HAW), 30, former three-time ASP World Champion, is on sabbatical from full-time competition this season, but accepted a wildcard into the Billabong Pro Tahiti, where the powerful Hawaiian dispatched of Brazilian Jihad Khodr, 25, convincingly, netting an impressive 8.67 out of a possible 10 for a sizzling backhand pit

“The win feels good,” Irons said. “It’s been four months since I put a jersey on and it still fits. Surfing fun-sized Teahupoo with one other guy out, there’re no complaints. I’m stoked to get through and looking forward to the next one.”

Irons, a past winner at the Billabong Pro Tahiti (2002), will face last year’s ASP World Tour Runner-Up Bede Durbidge (AUS), 26, in Round 2 when competition recommences.

“It’s going to be really hard against Bede (Durbidge),” Irons said. “He is a really focused competitor. I’m not worried though. I’m not here competing for points or anything like that. I’m just here having fun and I’ll be stoked to surf against him.”

Heiarii Williams (PYF), 22, Von Zipper Trials winner and wildcard in the Billabong Pro Tahiti, continued his devastating roll today, ousting 2009 ASP World Tour rookie and current ASP World No. 9, Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), 23, in Round 1 of competition.

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Joel Parkinson enjoys 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.”

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