The world’s best surfers are converging at the infamous South Pacific reef pass of Teahupo’o this week for Stop No. 5 of 10 on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour, the Billabong Pro Tahiti, to be held from August 16 – 27, 2012.
Located in the small town of Teahupo’o off the south-east side of Tahiti Island, a surf break known as Chopes produces heavy, glassy waves with swells that get as large as 12ft, earning a reputation as the world’s largest wave machine. The beach is a reef break, mainly left-breaking but the outer reef also creates right breaks that surfers must be cautious of when paddling out. Chopes ranks at the top of an experienced surfer’s must ride list and is only recommended for those who are in peak physical condition.
Last year the Teahupo’o event was won by reigning 11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA). It also featured a barrier-breaking tow-in session dubbed ‘Code Red.’ The surfing world eagerly anticipates the return of this season’s Billabong Pro Tahiti and the impact it will have on the 2012 ASP World Title race.
At this time, Mick Fanning (AUS), 31, two-time ASP World Champion (2007, 2009) is the current No. 1 on the ASP World Championship Tour ratings, but remains guarded about holding the frontrunner spot at this point in the season. Although an event runner-up in the past (2007), Fanning has been unable to crack the Quarterfinals in recent years, which he hopes to change this season.
According to an ASP press release, Fanning has noted that “Tahiti’s a tricky venue to do well even for the very best guys. 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.”
Just before the big event, the Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials winner and highest placed Tahitian both earn wildcards into the Billabong Pro main event.
“The Tahitian wildcards and trialists at Teahupo’o have done some real damage in the past,” Fanning said. “The locals are obviously psyched to see the Tahitians do well and they get out there in their boats and give them an incredible amount of support. Then there’s the specialists – guys that generally spend a fair bit of time at Chopes. They’re there a week before the trials and have already surfed a few heats out there before you come up against them, so they are completely in the zone and ready to go.”
No doubt, there will be stiff competition. Who do you think has this one wrapped up? Continue reading