Bil­l­abong pro tahiti

Heavy wa­ter - heavy weights.

Adventure - - Contents - Words and Images by Steve and Micah Dick­in­son

There have been great match ups and ri­val­ries in sport­ing his­tory; Pac­quiao and Floyd May­weather, Mo­hamad Ali vs. Fra­zier, Mike Tyson and Hol­ly­field. When two great tal­ents come head to head and there can only are one win­ner, those once in a life­time bat­tles are cre­ated. It was an over­cast Tahi­tian sky when Kelly Slater and John John Florence stepped into the aquatic ring which is Teahupoo and be­fore even the first punch was thrown com­men­ta­tors were talk­ing about this be­ing the great­est heat in surf­ing com­pe­ti­tion his­tory and un­like most sport­ing events it lived up to, even sur­passed the all the hype.

Kelly Slater at age 44 is with­out doubt the king (long time king) of surf­ing and John John Florence at 23 is the new heir ap­par­ent. Both surfers are renowned for their abil­ity to ride deep back­hand ag­gres­sive bar­rels – John John grew up on the North Shore of Hawaii and called the world’s most no­to­ri­ous wave Pipe­line his play­ground. Slater surfed……. well ev­ery­where bet­ter than any­one else. So the best of the old and the best of the new pad­dled out into the am­phithe­atre set­ting that Teahupoo of­fers with waves not per­fect but close. So of­ten in surf con­tests the fi­nals are a let-down due to mother na­ture not fit­ting in with the sched­ule and the surf ei­ther goes flat or the weather is bad, which means the surfers can of­ten not re­ally show their tal­ents, but this year, af­ter two days of av­er­age waves and long flat spells, the ocean switched on as if on cue for the his­toric fi­nal and Teahupoo started to pour through 8-10ft waves as the two heavy weights were about to go head to head. There was lit­tle games­man­ship, no feel­ing each other out. The two su­per­stars wasted no time in start­ing to rack up scores; they were there to get bar­rels, high scores and the ti­tles and they both went straight to work. Florence was quick to get points on the board with an 8.00 on his open­ing ride, but Slater fired back with a near-per­fect 9.77. Slater landed a mirac­u­lous free-fall drop, (which has be­come his trade­mark at Teahupoo) fol­lowed by es­cap­ing a deep bar­rel to gain a 9.17. to the deaf­en­ing screams of the crowd. There were plenty of waves though out the 40 minute fi­nal with the crowd yelling and scream­ing at ev­ery mo­ment, no waves rid­den scored less than an 8, which in it­self is a stag­ger­ing achieve­ment. Within 25 min­utes Florence was put in a com­bi­na­tion sit­u­a­tion (mean­ing he needed two new waves to catch up to Kelly score) and there was only ten min­utes left on the clock. John John con­tin­ued to hunt down those waves push­ing Slater to im­prove his al­most per­fect score line. But Slater is king for a rea­son and con­tin­ued to bet­ter his score.

Tak­ing a mo­ment to look the other way

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