Martinez shreds in Teahupoo
Teahupoo – Bobby Martinez (USA), 26, has won the Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui, defeating Taj Burrow (AUS), 30, in clean three-to-five foot (1.5 metre) waves at Teahupoo.
Event No. 3 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Tahiti survived a marathon waiting period, culminating on the second-to-last available day in improving conditions that peaked for a climactic Final.
Jordy Smith was the best of the three South Africans in the event, finishing equal ninth when he was defeated by Adriano de Souza (BRA) in Round 3. The 21 year-old Durbanite was seeded to Round 2 for the first time this season thanks to his ninth and third place finishes in the opening two events in Australia and ousted Heitor Alves (BRA) to advance to the last 16 for the third straight event.
The result sees Smith slip from No. 3 to No.6 on the ASP World Tour and still handily placed to challenge for the 2009 World Title. David Weare (Durban) and Greg Emslie (East London) were both eliminated from the event in Round 1.
Martinez surfed a near-flawless final, opening up with an impressive 8.73 out of a possible 10 before putting Burrow in a combination situation with a Houdini-esque 9.73 out of a possible 10. Netting the highest heat total of the event, 18.46 out of a possible 20, Martinez claimed his second Billabong Pro Tahiti and fourth elite tour win, establishing himself as one of the premier tube-riders in the world.
“I feel great and a bit emotional,” Martinez said. “I feel wonderful. I waited for the good ones out there and just got lucky. There weren’t too many waves and I was lucky enough to get a couple of good ones and not fall. Things just seemed to work out for me today. I really don’t know what to say. It feels really special.”
The form surfer of the event, Martinez surfed the majority of his heats on borrowed equipment, having broken most of his surfboards early in the waiting period.
“I actually borrowed a board from Alain Riou (local Tahitian surfer),” Martinez said. “He rides Darren Handley shapes and the board was the same dimensions and pretty much the same board I ride. It was great to find that as yesterday I was a bit sceptical about today in terms of the conditions and my equipment, but everything worked out perfectly.”
Martinez, who is without a major sponsor at the moment, has rocketed himself from 19th to 7th on the ASP World Tour ratings with today’s win, putting him in excellent position for the remainder of the year.
Burrow’s efforts in the Final were nothing short of spectacular, collecting an 8.17, a 7.93 and a 7.33, but they were not enough to overtake the Martinez stranglehold on the event.
“I definitely had fun but it was tricky against Bobby (Martinez),” Burrow said. “He had a dream heat. The conditions looked pretty good for your forehand because the judges like seeing you pump on your forehand in the barrel. On your backhand, you just have to park it in the pit and you can’t do much, but Bobby did everything he had to out there and deserved the win. I still had a fun Final, but hard to enjoy out there because I was in a combination situation the whole time.”
Burrow now moves into the No. 2 position on the ASP World Tour ratings, setting the Western Australian up well as he eyes up the next events.
Aritz Aranburu (EUK), 23, former ASP World No. 39, was the “Cinderella Story” at the Billabong Pro Tahiti. Having failed to advance through a heat in the opening two events of the season, the Basque Country’s first ever ASP World Tour competitor stormed past Californian sensation Dane Reynolds (USA), 23, former event winner Damien Hobgood (USA), 29, Australian veteran Tom Whitaker, 29, and reigning nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 37, en route to a Semi-final berth.
“Bobby (Martinez) is one of the best out there,” Aranburu said. “I had one good one, but he got two good ones, and that was it. It’s my best result ever and I am stoked. I have lots of confidence going into the next events. I just want to go home and train and try new boards for Brazil and J-Bay. The biggest thing for me is to know that if I can do it once, I can do it twice.”
Michael Campbell (AUS), 35, opened his final day affair with a close win over fellow ASP Dream Tour veteran Taylor Knox (USA), 38, in the Quarterfinals, but the goofy-footer’s precision forehand approach wasn’t enough to overtake a rampaging Burrow in the Semi-finals.
“It felt like I was a bit out of rhythm in the Semi-final,” Campbell said. “I wasn’t able to capitalize on the waves I got and Taj (Burrow) posted a couple of really strong scores mid-heat that left me wanting.”
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, suffered an unfortunate Round 3 loss at the Billabong Pro Tahiti, but after two event wins to open the season up, the Gold Coaster remains the frontrunner on this year’s ASP World Tour ratings.
The next stop on the 2009 ASP World Tour will be the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro in Brazil from June 27 to July 5, 2009, followed by the Billabong Pro at Jeffreys Bay from July 9-19.
Highlights from the Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui will be available via www.billabongpro.com
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
For more on the South African contenders go to www.aspafrica.com
Billabong Pro Tahiti Final results:
1 – Bobby Martinez (USA) 18.46
2 – Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.10
Billabong Pro Tahiti Semi-final results:
SF 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.86 def. Michael Campbell (AUS) 10.00
SF 2: Bobby Martinez (USA) 17.17 def. Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 15.23
Billabong Pro Tahiti Quarter-final results:
QF 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.33 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.06
QF 2: Mick Campbell (AUS) 12.84 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 10.17
QF 3: Bobby Martinez (USA) 15.93 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.67
QF 4: Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 11.66 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 10.66
Current ASP World Tour Top 10:
1 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 3000 points
2 – Taj Burrow (AUS) 2318 points
3 – Mick Fanning (AUS) 2208 points
4 – C.J. Hobgood (USA) 2196 points
5 – Adriano de Souza (BRA) 2174 points
6 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 2076 points
7 – Bobby Martinez (USA) 2025 points
8 – Tom Whitaker (AUS) 1932 points
9 – Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 1886 points
10 – Kieren Perrow (AUS) 1742 points
10 – Taylor Knox (USA) 1742 points
10 – Damien Hobgood (USA) 1742 points
6 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 2076 points
30 – David Weare (ZAF) 1045 points
35 – Greg Emslie (ZAF) 860 points