The biggest names in men's professional surfing have converged on the South Pacific island of Tahiti for the Billabong Pro – the fifth stop on the 2010 ASP World Tour.
The heaviest wave in the world, Teahupoo, awaits the current world number one Jordy Smith, 2009 ASP world champion Mick Fanning and the legendary Kelly Slater.
“Teahupoo is known for its power and stands alone as one of the most unique waves in the world,” Smith said. “I don’t think there is any surfer on the planet who does not respect it, even if it's breaking at a mid-range size. As perfect as it gets, it can still crush your dreams even if you favor big waves, and I don't think anyone gets into a comfort zone out there. You can't get too cheeky.”
The stop will have a major say in not only the 2010 title race but also the mid-year field reduction from the ASP Top 45 to the Top 34, which takes place after Tahiti.
“The wildcards and lower seeds will be going all out to get themselves back into the Top 32 seeds for re-qualifying so I guess we are going to see some really good performances from them – or whoever for that matter,” Smith said.
“If we go back and look at the veteran standout World Tour campaigners, maybe Kelly [Slater], Andy [Irons], and the Hobgoods among a few others... With the mix of all the specialists, it could be dangerous. Even the local boys could possibly come away with a surprise win.”
Smith will take on former ASP world champion C.J. Hobgood (USA), 31, and wildcard Manoa Drollet (PYF) in the first round of the competition; the event window opens today.