25 August, 2015 25 August, 2015

Twelve Remain in Contention at Chopes

The first four quarter finalists of the Billabong Pro Tahiti were decided in tricky five-foot waves yesterday (Day 11 of the 12 day waiting period), as the remaining four heats of Round 3 and all of Round 4 were completed. Owen Wright (AUS), Gabriel Medina (BRA), Josh Kerr (AUS) and Kelly Slater (USA) all secured themselves a spot in the quarters, while their opponents are still to be decided when Round 5 gets underway.

Jeremy Flores recorded the day’s highest heat total – 18.87pts.

The top-scorer of the day was Jeremy Flores, who earned an 18.87 heat total for two deep tubes that scored 9.10 and 9.77 – more than enough to secure his spot in Round 4 over Joel Parkinson. And although Jeremy was competing with a helmet on as a precaution after he face-planted the reef in Indo recently (requiring two hours of surgery to get stitched-up), the Frenchman wasn’t holding back in the shallow, slabbing surf.

Only CJ Hobgood’s Perfect 10 in Round 3 against Julian Wilson (AUS) and Gabriel Medina’s 9.97 in Round 4 were scored more than Jeremy’s best ride, although Kelly also claimed a 9.77 of his own in Round 4.

Kelly Slater is still in the hunt for his fifth title in Tahiti.

Despite catching a number of waves early on in Heat 10 of Round 3, Kelly Slater took his time to find his momentum against Sebastian Zietz (HAW). But once he did, the four-time Teahupo’o champ locked in a 7.33 before backing it up with a 6.73 with two and a half minutes remaining to secure his berth in Round 4.

With a spot directly in the quarter finals up for grabs, Round 4 got underway with two surfers who are challenging for the yellow jersey paddling out to do battle in Heat 1. Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Owen Wright are ranked fourth and fifth respectively on the Jeep Leaderboard, and they would have been desperately eyeing-out a spot in the last eight. Experienced campaigner, Kai Otten (AUS) was in the mix too and also looking to advance directly to the quarter finals.

The heat started slow then kicked into gear with eighteen minutes remaining, as both Kai and Filipe took heavy falls while the sets pulsed. All three competitors grabbed a counting score on the next set, with Filipe gaining the advantage with a 7.23. Owen had secured himself a 6.67 in the exchange, however, which put him a good position when the final flurry of the heat came. The Australian locked-in an 8.17 on his last ride, which earned him a spot in the quarter finals as both Kai and Filipe failed to answer back strongly enough.

Owen Wright could grab the ratings lead with a win at Chopes.

Heat 2 of Round 4 featured two previous Billabong Pro Tahiti champions – reigning champ Gabriel Medina and 2008 winner Bruno Santos (BRA) – and they were joined by Italo Ferreira (BRA). Italo took a heavy tumble on his second ride, which appeared to take the wind out of his sails as Gabriel and Bruno pulled away. The wildcard got the better of the opening exchange by making an impossible-looking tube for a 9.00 score, while Gabriel did even better on the second exchange. The reigning Chopes champ exited a deep tube after the spit on one of the bigger waves of the day to score a 9.97, which he backed-up later in the heat with a 7.67 for a 17.64 heat total. Bruno was offered one last crack as the heat timer wound down, but could only manage an 8.10 for a 17.10 heat total. Gabby was through to the quarters.

Josh Kerr got the better of Aritz Aranburu (ESP) and Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) in a low-scoring Heat 3 of Round 4, before Kelly Slater left it late to beat Jeremy Flores in Heat 4. Needing a 7.84 with just two minutes remaining, Kelly paddled into a tricky two-sectioned drainer, which he expertly negotiated for a 9.77 score. Jeremy and CJ Hobgood, who was also in the heat albeit way behind, will get another chance in Round 5.

Josh Kerr booked his spot in the quarter finals with a win in Round 4.

With it being the last day of the waiting period, we can expect a winner to be decided today – unless nature decides otherwise, like it did in J-Bay. Tune in to worldsurfleague.com from 7:30pm (SA time) this evening to watch the event LIVE.

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