Surfing Soapbox: Front-runner falls to local surfer in major upset

The Billabong Pro — being held amid some of the most hollow and dangerous waves in the world, with famous left barrels — resumed Tuesday in clean three- to- four-foot waves for the completion of Round 2 and the first 12 heats of Round 3.

The Billabong Pro Tahiti, the fifth of 10 events on the 2010 ASP World Tour, played host to an incredible day of surf action. There were major upsets to those in the hunt for the ASP World Title as well as surfers falling off the Dream Tour, the result of the midyear cut-off from the ASP Top 45 to the Top 34 (top 32 finishers plus two wild cards).

The day's major upset was Jordy Smith, title front-runner and last event winner, losing to Manoa Drollet, the local surfer and event wild card. Drollet used his local knowledge to control the heat from the onset and continually scored higher than Smith on the better-set waves.

In the heat directly following this upset, none other than surfing superstar and former nine-time world champion Kelly Slater scored an 8.80 in the dying seconds of his round-two heat, in a sensational come-from-behind victory.

Some other surfers advancing into round three included Dane Reynolds, C.J. Hobgood, Adam Melling, Owen Wright and Jeremy Flores. Those who failed to make the cut and continue on this year's tour were Drew Courtney, Neco Padaratz, Tanner Gudauskas, Mick Campbell, Kieren Perrow, Tom Whitaker, Kekoa Bacalso, Blake Thornton, Dean Morrison, Jay Thompson, Nate Yeomans and Ben Dunn.

Surfline, the official forecaster for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, is calling for a small mix of south and southwest swells to prevail for the last three days of the waiting period, along with moderate-to-strong easterly trades. My pick for this event remains Slater, who is on his march to an unprecedented 10th world title.


JAMES PRIBRAM is a professional surfer and John Kelly Environmental Award winner. His websites include AlohaSchoolofSurfing and ECOWarrior He can be reached at Jamo@Aloha

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