The Billabong Pro Tahiti required less than three rounds to shed the ASP World Tour of 12 surfers who are part of an historic mid-season cut designed to streamline the roster from 45 to 32, not counting wildcards, for future events. A thirteenth surfer will be sent packing before the contest at Teahupoo concludes.
It should be noted that World Tour ratings leader Jordy Smith was eliminated in the third round, by Tahiti's Manoa Drollet, in three- to five-foot surf at Teahupoo, providing nine-time world champion Kelly Slater, who is ranked No. 3, an easier opportunity to claim the top spot as he guns for title No. 10.
But the big story is the unprecedented roster cut, a positive step for the ASP as it strives to speed up future competitions and make them more competitive. But that doesn't make those who missed the cut feel any better.
They include San Clemente's Tanner Gudauskas and Nate Yeomans, two of four Southern California rookies who did not make the grade.
"Today wasn’t my day," said Gudauskas, whose older brother Patrick is still in contention in the Billabong Pro and is hoping to remain on the World Tour roster for at least the remainder of the season. "[Being on tour] has made us push as hard as we can. No easy days. We’ve gone as best we can and we’ll just keep trying to go."
The 12 surfers missing the cut by losing in the second or third round of the Tahiti competition are Drew Courtney (AUS), 31; Neco Padaratz (BRA), 34; Tanner Gudauskas (USA), 22; Mick Campbell (AUS), 34; Kieren Perrow (AUS), 33; Tom Whitaker (AUS), 30; Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), 25; Blake Thornton (AUS), 25; Dean Morrison (AUS), 29; Jay Thompson (AUS), 28; Yeomans (USA), 29, and Ben Dunn (AUS), 24.
When competition resumes, reigning world champion Mick Fanning, who is currently ranked sixth, will face Tahitian wildcard Tamaroa McComb in the thirteenth heat of the third round.
-- Pete Thomas
Photo: Hawaii's Fredrick Patacchia in action during a third-round victory at the Billabong Pro Tahiti.
Credit: © ASP / SCHOLTZ