After a delay of more than a week, the first round of the Billabong Pro Tahiti finally got underway on Tuesday, with the late start catching some of the world’s top ranked surfers cold.
The fifth event on the ASP World Tour commenced in excellent 1.5m waves at Teahupoo, with Jordy Smith once again one of the standout performers.
Smith advanced to the third round where he will face Manoa Drollet (PFY) after Drollet scored one of the biggest upsets of the day by defeating Smith’s closest rival in the ASP standings, the world’s number two, Taj Burrow.
Drollet, a six-time Billabong Pro wildcard recipient and former finalist in 2008, has a history of knocking out bigger names in this competition and he showed once more why he is considered among the world’s best at the infamous break.
Without a Teahupoo tube in sight on this occasion, Smith decided to take to the skies.
The South African's high-flying wizardry was enough to relegate his opponent, the former Billabong Pro event champion C.J. Hobgood (USA), to Round 2.
The other big news was the elimination of defending event champion Bobby Martinez (USA) by little known Brazilian and 2010 ASP Tour rookie Marco Polo who had never before won a heat at elite level.
Making relatively easy work of their respective heats were three-time Billabong Pro, and reigning ASP world champion, Mick Fanning (AUS), Tahiti event champion, and nine-times ASP world champion, Kelly Slater (USA) and 2007 Billabong Pro champion Damien Hobgood, with all three progressing through to the third round.