At first light Teahupo’o was similar to day one of competition; perfectly clean, four foot with energizing sunshine. By about 9.30am, an hour into proceedings, the wind had swung cross-offshore, but it didn’t effect wave quality too much. Nor did it effect the action and upsets in the line-up. Luke Egan was happy with conditions, admitting his stoke that “it’s more consistent than yesterday”. We’d been waiting a long time, but today was the real deal. Finally it was game on and we were to crown the champion. Today, that man was Bobby Martinez.
Although going down to Bobby in the final, Taj Burrow had an impressive journey to the final. In his quarterfinal bout with CJ Hobgood he ruled the first wave busting a speed float to huge backside hit. Taj knew the waves had changed from the morning’s conditions and that now it was, “good for turns, so I tried to open up on it and hoped the judges rewarded me”. Taj knew he had a fight ahead of him in the final and was in the right mindset. “All I can do is fight back from Bells (where he received a 17th) and that’s what I’m doing. I knew I had to fire up, especially against CJ Hobgood. He’s a tube-pig and rules this place”, said Taj later.
Mick Campbell has been on a mission at Teahupo’o. He’d spent the most time in the water out of any of the Top 45 during his stay and also pulled out one of the quotes from the event after he beat Taylor Knox. “I just wanna give a shout out to all the Aussies, oh yeah, and to all the rangas out there”, Mick laughed.
Bobby spelled the end for Aritz Aranburu, the man behind the biggest upsets of the event. Aritz had taken down Dane Reynolds, Kelly Slater, Damien Hobgood and Tom Whitaker to make the semis. He’d had a run most surfers could only dream about, but was put back in his place by Bobby. During their heat, around 2pm local time, the swell became noticeably thicker and the crowd become noticeably louder. Things were heating up. Excitement was building.
There was a 20-minute break between the semis and final and Bobby and Taj were on the same boat killing time. Taj wore his oversized headphones, psyching with his girlfriend, Stephanie Huntress. The two surfers were relaxed, they knew the final would come down to little more than wave selection, and doing all that is required should you chance the right wave. There was no tension between them. Taj even congratulated Bobby on his semi win. “Cheers man”, replied Bobby, locking eyes and shaking hands with his opponent.
As far as epic heats go for the event, Bobby and Taj’s final was clearly the best. It was the highest scoring heat of the event, and so it should be given it were the elitists in the final. Taj didn’t find the waves he was hoping for, but had an enjoyable time. “I had a fun surf and a great time out there”, Taj said. He admitted, “Bobby had a dream heat finding the two best waves, and was able to get deep and really generate speed on his forehand”.
Once the hooter sounded, Bobby and Taj were surrounded by skis which fished them from the line up. Bobby displayed an uncanny ability to be in the right spot at the right time out there on a board borrowed from Alain Riou (Tahitian WQS surfer), but was shocked with his domination. “I can’t believe it. I don’t know how it happened”, Bobby said humbly. “Right now I’m not thinking about money. It’s more about the feelings I have, and the ones I have right now are way better than money could buy”, he said. The exchange between the two was of good friends with no hard feelings. Taj was looking at one of Bobby’s best waves and said to him, “I was really hoping that one would have got you!”. There was laughter, smiles and a Hinano or two cheersed, before they moved off to the presentation. Bobby’s smile was slightly larger, but Taj, back in his familiar old world ranking of second, is still a happy man in Tahiti tonight.