The Surf World Still Recovering from “Greatest Surf Contest of All Time”
In the days leading up to the 2014 Billabong Pro Tahiti, a solid forecast of three large SW swells had fans and competitors alike rubbing their hands together in anticipation of some mind-blowing barrels. After Day 1 opened with flawless 8-10 ft dream surf, a few days of waiting left event organizers the freedom to run the remaining two days in the best surf possible. And that’s just what they did.
On Sunday 8/24 the call was made to run Round 3 as the building swell was expected to fill in throughout the day. By midday there were some stellar tubes racing across the reef to the West Bowl. The lips at Teahupo’o were 6-8 ft thick and the glassy tubes spit water all the way into the gallery of boats watching the show in the channel. There were multiple 9’s in every heat and frightening wipeouts. Even though the surfers are only scored on their best two waves, Kelly Slater snagged an incredible FIVE 9+ point rides in his heat, while John John Florence and Kai Otton got the event’s 2nd and 3rd perfect 10 point rides. By days end, there were an astounding nineteen 9+ point rides and two 10 point rides in Round 3 alone.
John John’s Massive Perfect 10
Kai Otton’s Screaming 10 Point Ride
The action in Rounds 1 through 3 would have been enough to make it one of the best events ever held in Tahiti since the contest’s inception in 1999, but the Final Day took things to a whole other level. The “Code Red” swell during the 2011 event may have had bigger waves, but those were unrideable without a ski. This year the South Pacific gave Tahiti it’s finest conditions with perfect wind and swell size, just on the edge of what is rideable with two human arms for propulsion.
As Round 4 began on Monday 8/25, the stage was set for some serious charging. Extra large 10-12ft mutant bombs exploded on the reef with ferocity. Luckily, none of the surfers got their boardshorts ripped off of them like Bruce Irons did in the Code Red swell of 2011. Every heat winner throughout the day was claiming that they just had the best waves in their lives during their post heat interviews. It was nuts. Thirty one 9 point rides went down with an unprecedented four 10 point rides!
The Kelly Slater vs. John John Florence Semi-Final is not only being touted as the heat of the event, but the “Greatest heat of all time!” It was a spectacular show of the two best tuberiders in the world riding the heaviest tubes ever ridden. Only seven waves were ridden between the two, yet each one was utterly perfect. The lines drawn on these walls were almost cartoonish, with Kelly getting a perfect 10 for his surreal high-line speed carve deep inside a frightening crystal cavern. When the horn blew, the two were actually tied, but a countback gave Kelly the nod because of the 10 point ride.
Kelly vs. JJF Semi-Final
Kelly’s Perfect 10
The final was solid with Gabriel Medina getting the first two waves and setting the tone for the heat. It appeared that Kelly might have peaked in the Semis. Then Slater bounced back with a 9.63 on a crazy tube. But in the end Gabby’s two waves were a bit bigger and Slater fell on a good one. With this result, Medina looks like he has a lock on the 2014 ASP World Title.
There’s not much more to say that hasn’t been said already except watch more of these clips of the contest and see for yourself!
2014 Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 3 Highlights (Sunday)
2014 Billabong Pro Tahiti Final Day Highlights (Monday)
2014 Billabong Pro Tahiti ASP Post Show
All photos and videos courtesy of ASP Imagery/Kirstin.