The Billabong Pro Tahiti will commence this Saturday, August 20, 2011, and there is some big swell being predicted for the event.

Will Chopes fire like this? Laird Hamilton takes on the beast.

Event No. 5 on the ASP World Title season, the Billabong Pro Tahiti comes at a crucial time in both the 2011 World Title race as well as for surfers looking to solidify their positions amongst the world’s elite before the September rotation.

Joel Parkinson (AUS), 30, current frontrunner in the hunt for the 2011 ASP World Title, is cautious when discussing this year’s campaign, and with seven events remaining before year’s end, the Australian style guru is readying himself for the long road ahead.

“There have been four events and four winners so the ASP World Title race is wide open at the moment,” Parkinson said. “The first surfer to get a second win up there will have a big advantage moving forward. We’re going to have a pretty crazy run here in the next few months with nearly seven events back-to-back. You can definitely get some momentum going there.”

Kelly Slater (USA), reigning 10 time ASP World Champion and past three time Billabong Pro Tahiti winner, is coming off a recent victory in Huntington Beach for the ASP Prime Nike US Open of Surfing. Winning the event on a quad-fin set-up, Slater plans on using similar equipment at Teahupo’o

Kelly Slater will relish big Chope's. Photo: ASP

“I plan to ride quad-fin setups in Tahiti this season,” Slater said. “Last year I rode it and it felt great. They’re faster in barrels and have enough control. I feel like it’s definitely an advantage if you have a good one.”

After missing the last ASP World Title event in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, Slater dropped to No. 6 on the ASP World Title rankings, but is admittedly motivated to perform well in Tahiti.

“I feel the motivation when I get there but now I have no room for error for the rest of the year,” Slater said. “Only two throwaways left now and I need to just lock in good results to have a shot at the title. It starts this week. I’m in a tighter spot than I thought. Could be a good thing – who knows?”

Andy Irons the reaigning champion at Teahupoo. RIP. Photo: Joli ASP

With the solid swell models projected for the event window, Slater maintains that this will play a major role in those who are successful at this year’s event.

“I’m expecting goofies to be a factor this season,” Slater said. “The Hobgoods (C.J. and Damien) and Freddy (Patacchia) and Cory (Lopez) to all have a good shot at any heat. It’s going to be big and that will factor in for sure. It’s going to be good finally and guys are going to be put in positions that are outside their comfort zone. We don’t get that often on tour.”

This year’s event will be shrouded in reverence for the defending champ and former three-time ASP World Champion Andy Irons (HAW) who was sensational at the venue. Irons passed away in November of last year.

Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, is calling for the first week of the contest waiting period to see plenty of swell. Medium size SW shifting SSW swell this weekend will be followed by slightly larger S swell for early next week. Long range charts indicate a very solid SSW swell could move in around Thursday/Friday the 25th-26th, with even more way out on the horizon.

BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:

Heat 1: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Chris Davidson (AUS), Cory Lopez (USA)
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Jadson Andre (BRA), Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT), Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Ricardo dos Santos (BRA)
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA), Daniel Ross (AUS), Heiarii Williams (PYF)
Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS), Heitor Alves (BRA), Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 10: Damien Hobgood (USA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 12: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Julian Wilson (AUS), Josh Kerr (AUS)

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