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Wednesday, May 20, 2009
All In A Day's Work

As dawn broke over the sleepy fishing village of Teahupoo, competitors and contest officials were greeted by the same meager swell that had been slowly filtering into the South Pacific for the past few days: Shoulder- to head-high peaks crashing on the reef out to sea without a glimmer of the monsters we had come here to witness. But with a lack of substantial surf on the horizon and a waiting period rapidly diminishing, big Luke Egan made the call to run the final day of the comp today.

Floating amid the bobbing mass of media and sweaty Frenchmen toting baguettes through the channel, (I swear I'm not making that part up) the world's upper echelon of surfers drifted into the water and boarded their respective vessels.

That's the under-endorsed Bobby Martinez who just won the Billabong Pro at Chopes.

Going into the final day of competition, much of the talk surrounding the event still lingered around Kelly Slater and his now infamous defeat at the hands of the Basque sensation Artiz Aranburu yesterday. Slater's had a well-publicized rough start to the season, falling to Aussie phenom Julian Wilson at Snapper and then Owen Wilson at Bells. But when Slater drew Aritz Aranburu at Teahupoo, it seemed that he had finally pulled someone he could stomp straight in the ground like the badass that he is.

Just try telling that to Aritz.

With the highest-scoring tuberide of the day, Aritz flat-out smoked the champ - pushing Slater out of the event in the second round and leaving the door wide open for the rest of the 45 contingency to capitalize on his dethroning.

But it didn't really happen that way and upsets seemed to abound.

One by one, the touted few fell victim to the underrated. After Slater slipped, Joel Parkinson was next in line. Taking a play out of Mick Fanning's book, Parko showed up to the start of the World Title looking lean, mean and a far cry from the "Porko" we come to know and love in year's past. One look at Joel today and you can tell that he wants it (this is supposed to be his year.) That said, his year or not, it sure wasn't his event as he completely collapsed in his heat round three against a very smooth Taylor Knox.

With a swath of World Tour elite packing their collective bags, the event was open for any all takers come the quarterfinals, but the upsets continued without apology. Andy Irons fell victim to Bobby Martinez, Mick Fanning slipped to Tommy Whitaker, and Mick Campbell fell victim to a tube savvy Taj Burrow. That left two equally deadly surfers on everyone's radar come the final: Taj Burrow and Bobby Martinez.

Taj hasn't had a result at Chopes in a while. This puts him in third place.

Had you spoken to any of the photographers leading up to the event, you would have found out that those in the know have been singing Bobby Martinez's praise since the opening day of the waiting period. The man was on fire, may it be freesurfing a newly minted peak around the corner from Chopes or cutting through his competition in the event, it was Bobby's for the taking.

Surfing against W.A's Taj Burrow in the final, Martinez seemed to do no wrong. To boot, the 26-year-old Santa Barbara native was gracefully pulling in on borrowed boards for a healthy chunk of the event.

"I actually borrowed a board from Alain Riou (local Tahitian surfer)," Martinez said. "He rides Darren Handley shapes and the board was the same dimensions and pretty much the same board I ride. It was great to find that as yesterday, I was a bit skeptical about today in terms of the conditions and my equipment, but everything worked out perfectly."

Repat of '06.
Bobby Martinez threading to win.

Currently sporting some empty real estate on his board, Bobby is without a major sponsor, but you can rest assured that his massive win in Tahiti will do wonder's for his cause.

"I'm not thinking about money right now&I'm thinking about the feelings I have," Martinez said. "I didn't start surfing to make money. I started for me, and to win today, you cannot put a price on the feelings I have. I'm really going to let it sink it and enjoy it. It's a great result, but it's a long year and anything can happen."

Well played Mr. Martinez — well played indeed.