- 19 May 2009 | Surfing
Basque surfer Aritz Aranburu (Zarauz, EUK), 23, caused the upset of Round 2 at the Billabong Pro Tahiti last night by eliminating nine-time and reigning ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (Florida, USA), 37, in Round 2 of competition. Aranburu, who found his rhythm in the three to four foot (1 to 1.2 meter) waves breaking over the infamous sharp reef of Teahupoo, not only defeated Slater but also posted an impressive 17.27 point heat score (out of a possible 20), the highest total of the day, to finalize his exceptional performance.
"Kelly (Slater) is the best competitor and the best surfer in the world and I was just trying to stay focused out there so I could get my own waves," Aranburu said. "Once I got that first score I almost felt more pressure because I was surfing against Kelly and I know what he can do with his priority. I just tried to put the pressure off and luckily I got a second good score and it worked out."
By besting Slater, Aranburu follows the footsteps of fellow European surfers Jeremy Flores (Capbreton/New Caledonia, FRA), 21, who defeated Slater on his first year among the ASP Top 45 at the same venue of Teahupoo in the Quarterfinals of the 2007 edition, and Tiago Pires (Ericeira, PRT), 27, who took the best over Slater in Bali last year.
Aranburu, a former ASP European Junior top competitor who qualified for the ASP World Tour in 2007, had not made it through to Round 3 of any event since the season started in February and was looking to eventually break the bad roll, something he achieved in style at Teahupoo nailing a near perfect 9.77 point ride (out of a possible 10) in the first minutes of his encounter with Slater, the best single wave score of the Billabong Pro Tahiti thus far.
"I was lucky to get that first wave," Aranburu said. "I paddled deep because I knew I was going to need a big score against Kelly (Slater) and when I was paddling into it, I thought I was going to fall, but I made it, so I'm happy."
- 19 May 2009 | Surfing
Following four consecutive lay days, the Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui roared back to life this morning, with the world’s best surfers tackling the three-to-four foot (1 – 1.5 metre) waves on offer at Teahupoo.
Stop No. 3 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Tahiti saw perennial favorites C.J. Hobgood (USA), 29, Taj Burrow (AUS), 30, and Michael Campbell (AUS), 35, advance through to the Quarterfinals alongside Taylor Knox (USA), 38, current ASP World No. 14 and longest-serving competitor on the ASP Dream Tour, who eliminated current ASP World No. 1 Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, from competition this afternoon with a staggering 9.03 out of a possible 10 single-wave score in the final heat of the day.
“It was one of those heats where we were jockeying for position in the ning,” Knox said. “I got a 6 and then it went flat. Joel (Parkinson) was tired of waiting and used his priority on a wave that didn’t offer much. Then that really good one came through and I was in position for it. I really thought there were going to be more waves in that heat and that I’d need more than a 6 in my score line, but that’s the way it worked out. I won my heat so I’m stoked and will go home happy now.”
While this afternoon’s four Round 3 heats laid the groundwork for some intense Quarterfinal match-ups, it was this morning’s completion of Round 2 that provided some of the day’s most dramatic upsets and exciting action.
Aritz Aranburu (EUK), 23, current ASP World No. 39, caused the upset of the event, eliminating reigning nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 37, in Round 2 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti. For Aranburu, it would mark his first heat win of the 2009 ASP World Tour season the young Basque surfer putting up an impressive 17.27 heat total to Slater’s 15.00.
“Kelly (Slater) is the best competitor and the best surfer in the world and I was just trying to stay focused out there so I could get my own waves,\" Aranburu said. “Once I got that first score I almost felt more pressure because I was surfing against Kelly and I know what he can do with his priority. I just tried to put the pressure off and luckily I got a second good score and it worked out.\"
The win was no easy feat as the pair locked in the highest-scoring heat of the event, but Aranburu’s near-perfect 9.77 out of a possible 10, for an extremely deep backhand barrel in the opening minutes of the bout, assisted the European in his landmark victory.
"I was lucky to get that first wave,” Aranburu said. “I paddled deep because I knew I was going to need a big score against Kelly (Slater) and when I was paddling into it, I thought I was going to fall, but I made it, so I’m happy."
Aranburu will now face current ASP World No. 9 Damien Hobgood (USA), 29, in Round 3 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti when competition resumes.
For Slater, today’s disappointing result marks his third, consecutive equal 17th place finish in 2009, leaving many to ponder the iconic Floridian’s state of mind in regards to his campaign for an unprecedented 10th ASP World Title.
“That may have just given me an excuse for a big, long vacation,” Slater said. “I don’t know yet. It’s really decision time for me. With that many 17ths, you’re really hard-pressed to win an ASP World Title. I’m not here to just make up the numbers, but I don’t want to fall off the map either – I guess I kind of have though. Numbers-wise, I’m still within the possibility of getting in late in the year, but I don’t know. I guess I have a lot on my mind.”
Slater has yet to confirm if he will attend Stop No. 4 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro in Brazil, from June 27 to July 5, 2009.
- 19 May 2009 | Surfing
Royden Bryson (East London) made the most of the great conditions at Durban’s North Beach as he outsurfed Durban local Antonio Bortoletto in the Final of the ASP WQS 1-Star Lizzard Nando’s Surf Pro.
Bryson led from the start, and despite his best efforts, Bortoletto was unable to chase down Bryson’s eventual heat total of 12.25, coming close with a score of 11.90. Bryson and Bortoletto traded waves in a very closely contested Final, with Bryson adopting a high-risk approach by boosting a big and clean frontside 360 air.
The seventh edition of the contest, which was held between May 15 - 17, offered over US$10 000 in prize money available and featured an exciting man-on-man heat structure.