Weak Swell Forecast Opens the Door For Small Wave Specialists
It’s time once again for the most anticipated ASP World Tour event of the year. Yes, The Billabong Pro Tahiti has surpassed the Pipeline Masters as the most popular surf contest in the world, and deservedly so. Last year’s Code Red swell was a milestone in surfing and surfing competition. Unfortunately, this year’s swell forecast is not so good. This is a huge development as many big wave chargers were hoping to capitalize on Teahupo’o's massive barrels to give them a mid-year push in the ratings.
Given the forecast, the playing field will be leveled in a big way. Looking at most recent results from the Top 34 in South Africa and Huntington Beach, here is a breakdown of who’s hot for and primed for a win in Tahiti.
Kelly is always at the top of any list that has to do with surfing. No matter what the swell is doing, Kelly will be a contender for sure. Look for Slater to remain in the hunt through the later rounds of the event by surfing smart and using experience to defeat frothing young pros.
Mick is the current World #1 and is a model of consistency. You can count on Mick being extra fierce in the water as he tries to protect that top ranking. Expect some serious paddle battles with whoever he is facing, especially in the latter rounds. Mick’s boards are his best ever, he is in better shape than ever, and it appears that he is in a good place mentally. That means bad news for anyone that faces him in Tahiti.
Gabriel continues to silence critics that think “the kid can’t surf big waves”, or “he can only do airs.” With his runner-up finish to Slater at maxing Fiji in June, and a quarter-final finish at the biggest Pipeline Masters last December, it would be naive and foolish to claim that the 18 year old can’t handle himself in good waves. And if the waves are small? Well, if the waves are small you can expect a show like no other from Medina as the rest of the field watches and take notes.
Miguel has some major momentum after his runner-up finish at the US Open of Surfing. Due to the smaller than usual conditions, expect Pupo to be a contender as aerials and turns creep into the criteria. Competition savvy and wise beyond his years, Pupo could be standing on the podium after the final.
Mr. Wilson is just coming off a huge win at the US Open of Surfing where he dismantled the world’s best surfers in mediocre waves. Julian has talent and skill to spare and can easily win any event if he gets his head in the right place. With short 2 or 3 hit waves on offer, look for Julian’s smooth style and radical approach to take him past his opponents.
Adriano de Souza
Adriano is a warrior. A pint-sized, wave-hungry competitive warrior. Because of this tenacity, Adriano will easily make it into the latter rounds no matter what the conditions. With his amazing Round #1 finish today where he posted the highest heat score of the day, Adriano has his sights set on victory, or nothing else.
Dusty Payne – Back in the water after 6 months on injured reserve, Dusty is the X-Factor of the event. His first few heats will dictate the rest of his year on tour.
Taylor Knox – Taylor won his first heat of 2012 at the event today. He mentioned his new quiver had changed his game in the post-heat interview. Look for this to help motivate the oldest surfer on tour to his best result this year.
Joel Parkinson – Parko’s surfing has been quiet for the last few months. This could mean that he is losing his motivation, or that he has been secretly getting ready for Chopes! After his 3rd place finish at the Molokai to Oahu paddleboard race last month, Parko is in the best shape of his life. Always a good factor when facing a very fit and focused ASP Top 34.
Ricardo Dos Santos won the Trials before the event started in waves that will most likely be better that the main event. Check out the video below.
Look for the ASP and contest organizers to push through Rounds 1,2 & 3 in the next two days as they try to capitalize on the dying swell.
Watch all the action live at www.billabongpro.com