The Billabong Pro Tahiti Isn’t Going To Be Amazing, So Let’s Watch When It Was

Was John John v Kelly the greatest heat in competitive history?

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Did you watch any of the Billabong Pro Tahiti yesterday? It was pretty tough going. No Slater. No waves. No Ronnie Blakey. Pretty tough going indeed. At least we have Sean Doherty on the ground doing the writing. He summed up the day with this gem:

“What was really noticeable today was how Kelly’s absence changed the energy of the whole event… or more to the point drained it. It was only round one, sure, but on a day like this he was always good to liven it up with some ocean conjuring or some vaudeville shit. And if he was missed in round one, wait till finals day.”

With the absence of everything that makes this event great, I cello taped together some old video news releases from everything that does: Kelly Slater, John John Florence, and perfect Teahupo’o, all connected in a single semi-final at the Billabong Pro Tahiti in 2014. The footage is raw, but it’s great viewing. It might even be the greatest heat of competitive surfing in history. Is it? Sure!

And as a bonus, the Tournotes clip from that event, featuring John and Kelly discussing their historic half hour. “It’s easy for me to say,” says Kelly, “’cause I won the heat, but I think In a few years you’ll probably be like, ‘That was cool, we tied.’”

It’s been a few years, and you’re right Kelly, that was cool.

The details:
Kelly Slater rode three waves: 10, 8.17, 9.77.
John John Florence rode four: 9.90, 9.10, 9.40, 9.87.
Both of their two wave totals left them on 19.77, which gave Kelly Slater the win on countback due to his 10.
The end result: Kelly met Gabriel Medina in the final and lost. Both surfers again scoring double 9s. The win helped Medina win the World Title that December at Pipeline.

Mike Jennings