NewsBillabong Pro Tahiti

Inside the Billabong Pro Tahiti

Official Event Site
August 15 - 26, 2014
BREAK: Taiarapu, Tahiti, French Polynesia
PRIZE MONEY: $500,000
COORDINATES: 17°50′S 149°17'W
BAGGAGE CLAIM: Fa'a'a International Airport, Papeete, French Polynesia (PPT)

The History: Surfing has its deepest roots in the Polynesian islands, where the journey from Tahiti to Hawaii could only be survived by the most accomplished watermen. With their superior water skills, they brought their paipo (belly) boards. Bodyboarding still rages on the perfect lefts at Teahupo'o, known for its heavy, glassy waves that can reach double-overhead.

The Island: Tahitian culture greets you at the gates of the ferry. Markets with sarongs, soaps, oils and jewelry abound and the Tahitian pearl, also known as the black pearl, is the pride of the archipelago. Harvested in blue lagoons, the shiny jewel accounts for more than 50 percent of Tahiti's exports and its unique dark hue can range from green to pink, blue to silver, and yellow.

The Surf: The Top 34 enjoyed a shark-free event window at the 2014 J-Bay Open. Reef sharks and stingrays are also at home in Tahiti, but are both harmless and trained so that surfers can paddle in without fear of the fin. Localism in Tahiti is also much tamer than in other lineups on the ASP World Tour. Possibly, Teahupo'o's notorious poundings on the reef have created a culture of tolerance.

The Break: Similar to Cloudbreak's promise and peril at the Fiji Pro, Teahupo'o pulls over a reef that at points sits just 20 inches below the water. But the unique shape there is what makes the break truly majestic: The semicircular reef drops sharply, creating the world's only wave that breaks below sea level. The drop in reef height allows the water's rising wall to be as thick as it is steep.

The Main Event: The 2014 Billabong Pro Tahiti is the 17th installment of the contest. The competition was first on the ASP Qualifying Series (QS), but began hosting the ASP's elite Top 45 when Billabong claimed the monster pit in 1999.

Over the years, pros have taken full advantage and have put on some epic performances. In 2005, Kelly Slater (USA) surfed the perfect heat, scoring the first-ever 20 out of a possible 20 points against Damien Hobgood (USA) in the Final. The 2011 contest saw Jeremy Flores (FRA) match Slater's perfect heat with a 20-point score of his own in what's sometimes considered one of the most memorable ASP events of all time.

2013: Adrian Buchan (AUS)
2012: Mick Fanning (AUS)
2011: Kelly Slater (USA)
2010: Andy Irons (HAW)
2009: Bobby Martinez (USA)
2008: Bruno Santos (BRA)
2007: Damien Hobgood (USA)
2006: Bobby Martinez (USA)
2005: Kelly Slater (USA)
2004: C.J. Hobgood (USA)
2003: Kelly Slater (USA)
2002: Andy Irons (HAW)
2001: Cory Lopez (USA)
2000: Kelly Slater (USA)
1999: Mark Occhilupo (AUS)

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