When the horn blew at the end of this year’s Billabong Pro Tahiti, Ace Buchan’s smile was a mile wide as he came in on the ski. He is the first guy to take out Kelly in a final at The End of the Road at Teahupooo. The King didn’t go down easy – posting a 9.10 and 8.8. It wasn’t all for nothing for Slater as he moves into the number one position in the ratings with this result. Can’t complain too much about losing if you’re number one in the world. Ace makes a pretty good move himself headed into the next event ranked number ten in the world.
You could say Buchan was an underdog, but his surfing on the final day said otherwise. In his quarterfinal match-up against John Florence, winner of the Andy Irons award, Ace won despite Florence’s perfect 10 on the wave of the day. His consistency was lethal, but Buchan himself said before the final that he thought he hadn’t surfed his best heat yet. Immediately after the heat, GT told him: “I think you just surfed your best heat,” and everyone agreed. Almost every wave he took off on was a thick-lipped bomb and he packed tube after tube all day. His wave selection topped Slater’s in the final.
One cool thing about this win is that Ace immediately dedicated his trophy to his host Tahitian family. It looked as though he choked back a tear or two and Ron Blakey admitted getting emotional during Ace’s victory interview. It speaks volumes for how much the top surfers love the Tahitian host families they stay with for the duration of the event. At most other events, they stay in swanky hotels and rental homes, but in Tahiti, things are much simpler.
The next stop for the ASP World Tour is the Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, California. The world’s best 32 surfers take on the world-famous skate park-like waves September 15th through the 21st. Title contention enters the conversation as we get rolling in the back half of the season.