Championship tour number seven takes place this August in Tahiti, with the event window opening on the 11th and carrying through to the 22nd. The Billabong Pro in Tahiti is one of the most decorated events on the surfing calendar and has the same type of vibe and excitement as the Pipe Masters.
After an entertaining but interrupted J-Bay contest, we now shift the action to French Polynesia to the island of Tahiti. The Billabong Pro is held at Teahupoo and has been part of the WSL Tour since 1999. Teahupoo (Chopes) is a left hand reef break which provides some of the most hollow barrels you will ever witness. Forget the cutback, floats and airs it's time to focus on the drop in and control. If the swell is large the surfers can find it hard to control their board in the barrel as the water just sucks right off the reef which can cause some hefty wipeouts.
Last year Kelly Slater took home his fifth Billabong Pro title ahead of John John Florence in two nine plus rides, and will look to be the first surfer to go back to back at Teahupoo. While on the veterans, Joel Parkinson is slowly moving up the leaderboard, now ranked sixth after a round three exit at J-Bay. Never a winner at Chopes but did claim a runners up in 2012, Parko has enjoyed a fairly consistent year and will push hard for a spot in the finals or even better, a victory!
Brazilian Filipe Toledo took home his first title for 2017 at Jeffreys Bay last month and showcased what is to come from the young up and coming surfer. Filipe is now seventh in the standings ahead of Julian Wilson and could cause some upsets late in the 2017 season. He took out Portuguese rookie Frederico Morais in his first final appearance for the year. Morais is another one of those rookies who isn't just out there to compete and get knocked out in the second or third round. We have seen numerous times this year rookies such as Connor O’Leary, Leonardo Fioravanti and now Frederico Morais push hard and fight for a final appearance.
After reaching the final here last year John John Florence would love to add Teahupoo to the trophy cabinet. As of late we haven't seen him on top of the podium, but he did make quarterfinals only to fall short after Morais scored a ten point ride. Florence is one of the best on tour with wave decision and growing up on the north shore might help with a victory at Teahupoo in 2017.
Over the years we haven't seen much action at Chopes with the goofy foot. Gabriel Medina is the only one to win in the 17 years of contest at Teahupo'o on his goofy foot. With the contest less than a week away will we see a shift in the rankings with Matt Wilko, John John and Jordy Smith looking to extend or lead the contest, or will the experience with Slater and Parko spoil the fun? Expect to see the contest kick off on day one as it looks like the swell will hold to the end of the week.
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