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Santa Barbara surfer Bobby Martinez wins Billabong Pro contest in Tahiti

May 19, 2009 |  7:40 pm


*Updated with quotes and details

Bobby Martinez has defeated Australia's Taj Burrow in a dramatic final to win the Billabong Pro Tahiti surfing contest in 3- to 5-foot waves at notoriously hollow Teahupoo.

The triumph, for a surfer who was raised in Santa Barbara's gritty and gang-infested westside, puts Martinez in the race for the world title. He vaults from No. 19 to No. 7 in the ASP World Tour rankings after three of 10 competitions. His best finish in three years on the tour was No. 6, as a rookie in 2006.

Australians still hold the top three spots in the rankings, with Joel Parkinson first, followed by Burrow and Mick Fanning. Martinez and Burrow traded barrels in the final of a contest otherwise plagued by poor surf, with Martinez prevailing in the best-two-waves format, 18.46 to 16.10.

Martinez's score was buoyed by a 9.73, earned on a wave in which he briefly disappeared deep inside the barrel of a set wave. It was his second win at Teahupoo but only his fourth World Tour contest victory.

“I feel great and a bit emotional,” he said afterward. “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 next competition is the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro in Brazil, scheduled June 27-July 5.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Bobby Martinez dips inside a Teahupoo barrel. He would emerge from the final against Taj Burrow winner of the Billabong Pro contest in Tahiti. Credit: Steve Robertson/ASP/CI via Getty Images