Andy Irons wins Billabong Pro Tahiti; Slater moves to No. 2 on ASP World Tour rankings
The Billabong Pro Tahiti, the fifth stop on the 2010 ASP World Tour, culminated in climactic fashion Friday, with Hawaii's Andy Irons besting Floridian C.J. Hobgood in an explosive final clash on 3- to 4-foot waves at Teahupoo.
"I did it!" Irons exclaimed. "I dedicate this win 100% to my wife, Lindy, she is everything to me and without her, I’d be nothing," Irons said. "I really, really like competing because I love to win and I feel on top of the world today. I surf because I love to win. I love this feeling."
Irons — who beat reigning ASP World Champion Mick Fanning, 29, of Australia, 24-year-old rookie Patrick Gudauskas, San Clemente, and Kelly Slater en route to the final — opened up with a massive, freefall wipeout before utilizing his backhand tube-riding skills to net a 14.67 out of a possible 20 and collect the win.
"He paddled me inside and caught the first wave," Irons said. "The next wave was better and I just fell out of the sky. I thought my board was going to break. It has two buckles on it already. I just went after it out there. C.J. is so dangerous here. I knew he would be getting 10's or twos, and I was lucky it was twos today."
"I feel like I’m back," Irons said. "I have to thank ASP for giving me the wildcard back here. My whole dream was to come back and just win one contest, and I’ve done that now. I want more. And to win at Teahupoo, it’s my favorite wave in the world. It’s a very special win."
The form surfer of the day, however, was Slater, who scored the event’s first and only Perfect 10 in the quarterfinals for an incredible freefall layback barrel.
"It’s been a while [since getting a 10]," Slater, 38, said. "That was probably the best wave of the day. I looked at the first one, and I was surprised Ace [Adrian Buchan] went on the first one. The second one usually sucks out more and is more hollow. I was a little bit far back when I was paddling, and when I turned around to go, the wind was pushing me back. So I really had to overcompensate once I got to the bottom and finally set my edge. It was a good one though."
Despite Slaters' semifinal loss to Irons, the Floridian moves from third to second on the ASP World Tour rankings and is only 250 points behind frontrunner Jordy Smith, 22, of South Africa.
"I’m up there pretty close," Slater said. "Going all the way to J-Bay and getting 17th makes me wish I had stayed home. You lose confidence and waste time on planes. That’s the way it goes — you have good events and bad events. This one has been pretty good though. The waves haven’t been good, but we’ve seen a lot of cool things. We’ve seen the young guys really step up and we’ve seen Andy [Irons] come back and put one together."
The next stop on the 2010 ASP World Tour will be the Hurley Pro Trestles, September 12 to 18 at San Clemente's Lower Trestles.
Billabong Pro Tahiti final results:
1 – Andy Irons (HAW) 14.67
2 – C.J. Hobgood (USA) 8.33
Semifinal 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 15.00 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.93
Semifinal 2: Andy Irons (HAW) 13.57 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 10.26
Quarterfinal 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.53 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 6.23
Quarterfinal 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.80 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.33
Quarterfinal 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.67 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.77
Quarterfinal 4: Andy Irons (HAW) 16.44 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.00
Round 4 results:
Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.50 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 9.67
Heat 2: Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.83 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.83
Heat 3: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 10.00 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 1.10
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.00 def. Manoa Drollet (PYF) 5.37
Heat 5: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.70 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 8.43
Heat 6: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.67 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 8.83
Heat 7: Andy Irons (HAW) 14.17 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.07
Heat 8: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 17.00 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.66
Current ASP World Title Race Top 5 (after Billabong Pro Tahiti)
1 — Jordy Smith (ZAF) 30,250 points
2 — Kelly Slater (USA) 30,000 points
3 — Taj Burrow (AUS) 25,250 points
4 — Dane Reynolds (USA) 23,750 points
5 — Adriano de Souza (BRA) 23,250 points
— Kelly Burgess
Photo: Andy Irons bested C.J. Hobgood Friday to win the Billabong Pro Tahiti. Credit: © Robertson / ASP