26 August, 2015 26 August, 2015

Jeremy Flores Wins 2015 Billabong Pro Tahiti

In his comeback event following injury, Jeremy Flores has charged his way to the Billabong Pro Tahiti title in a hard-fought final against Gabriel Medina (BRA) at tricky Teahupo’o.


The Frenchman reaffirmed his status as one of the world’s best backside tuberiders with a solid display that included plenty of side-slipping and butt-dragging technique. Deep tubes against Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) in Round 5, Kelly Slater (USA) in the quarter finals, CJ Hobgood (USA) in the semis, and then Gabriel Medina in the final saw Jeremy recording high scores throughout the day. He looked unstoppable.

Before the final day started, many had predicted a Gabriel Medina vs Kelly Slater final after seeing how the draw was set up. But that notion was put to rest in quarter final Heat 4 (the eighth heat of the day), when Kelly was unable to stop Jeremy, who had priority, from catching a high-scoring wave with just under five minutes remaining. Needing a 7.06, Jeremy slid into the barrel and got spat out seconds later to the tune of 8.23pts, which left Kelly searching for a score that never came.

Jeremy Flores is one of the world’s best backside tuberiders.

On the other side of the draw, Gabriel Medina was aiming for a repeat victory at Chopes, and he was looking on course to do that with big wins over Kai Otten (AUS) in the quarter finals and Owen Wright (AUS) in the semis. Unfortunately his tactic of always staying busier than his opponent backfired in the final, when he caught a pair of waves with low scoring potential while Jeremy waited for a bomb. Patience paid off for the Frenchman when he scored a 9.87 on his opening ride to put the pressure on Gabriel. Teahupo’o was inconsistent and difficult on the final day, and both finalists waited a further 16 minutes before catching another ride.

“I was sitting out there counting the minutes and there wasn’t many waves,” Jeremy told Pete Mel in the channel after the final. “But I was always looking around at the mountains and thought to myself, ‘even if I lose this final I’m in paradise, so I’m the luckiest guy in the world.’ I had Raimana (van Bastolaer) on the boat and he was just going the whole heat, ‘calm down, calm down.’ So I was just trying to be calm.”

Gabriel caught some bombs earlier in the day, but couldn’t find more like this in the final.

Patience paid off when Gabriel once again paddled for the first wave of the set, which turned out to be a dud, leaving the better second wave to Jeremy. The regularfoot dug in for another great tube to score a 7.00, which put Gabriel in a combination situation. That was only momentarily, because Gabriel also picked up a good score (7.17pts) in the exchange on a wave behind, which left him needing an attainable 9.71 with plenty of time remaining.

Four attempts later and Gabby still couldn’t find the score he needed, his best being a 6.03 that went into his top two, before the final horn sounded and Jeremy raised his hands to the sky. Victory!

Jeremy’s final-clinching 9.87 ride.

The win moves Jeremy up five places to number seven on the Jeep Leaderboard, while Gabriel also jumped five spots for a place just inside the Top 10. Adriano de Souza and Mick Fanning, despite losing out early in Tahiti, remain at first and second respectively. The rest of the Top 10 looks like this:

1 Adriano de Souza (BRA) 34,950pts
2 Mick Fanning (AUS) 34,700pts
3 Owen Wright (AUS) 34,400pts
=4 Julian Wilson (AUS) 33,200pts
=4 Filipe Toledo (BRA) 33,200pts
6 Kelly Slater (USA) 28,400pts
7 Jeremy Flores (FRA) 27,250pts
8 Josh Kerr (AUS) 24,900pts
8 Italo Ferreira (BRA) 24,900pts
10 Gabriel Medina (BRA) 24,150pts

Go to worldsurfleague.com for all the heat reviews, photos and results from the 2015 Billabong Pro Tahiti.

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