What: Billabong Pro Tahiti Presented by Air Tahiti Nui, ASP World Tour Event # 3

Where: Teahupoo Taiarapu-Tahiti

When: 8 - 18 May 2008

The 11-day Billabong Pro Tahiti waiting period is nearly half over, but the wait ends today. Yesterday, the fifth official lay day for ASP World Tour competition at Teahupoo, was one of preparation for the World’s Top 45 surfers. A rising swell has reinforced predictions that Round 1 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti will commence on Tuesday, May 13th, 2008.

Defending Billabong Pro Tahiti Champion Damien Hobgood (USA) has officially withdrawn from competition. ASP replacement surfer Nic Muscroft (AUS) will take his place. Hobgood fractured his shoulder freesurfing at Teahupoo one month ago and was hoping to heal in time to defend his title, unfortunately, he will have to wait to see if he can do so at the next stop in Fiji – he was the last event winner there as well.

“I wanted to wait until the last minute to see if it would be possible for me to surf but my arm was too weak to be able to pull that off,” Hobgood said. “Also if I would have hit my shoulder again, that could have put me out for a lot longer and after making that mistake last year, I didn't want to repeat it. I should be able to surf Fiji so I am really looking forward to getting back in the water for that event.”

Hobgood’s withdrawal has changed the seeding on the Billabong Pro Tahiti draw and the heat match-ups have moved around significantly. Rookie Jordy Smith (ZAF) will now face Australia's Dean Morrison and fellow South African Ricky Basnett in the first heat of the day.

Event officials will aim to start competition at 7am today. The Billabong Pro Tahiti will be webcast live on the ASP website.

Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 1 Match-Ups:

Heat 1:Dean Morrison (AUS), Luke Munro (AUS), Daniel Ross (AUS)

Heat 2: Kai Otton (AUS), Leonardo Neves (BRA), Ricky Basnett (ZAF)

Heat 3: Bobby Martinez (USA), Roy Powers (HAW), Royden Bryson (ZAF)

Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Tim Reyes (USA), Travis Logie (ZAF)

Heat 5: Andy Irons (HAW), Ben Dunn (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT)

Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Damien Hobgood (USA), Aritz Aranburu (EUK)

Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Dayyan Neve (AUS), Chris Ward (USA)

Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Manoa Drollet (PYF)

Heat 9: Mick Fanning (AUS), Pancho Sullivan (HAW), Jamie O'Brien (HAW)

Heat 10: Taj Burrow (AUS), Tom Whitaker (AUS), Bruno Santos (BRA)

Heat 11: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Jordy Smith (ZAF), Mikael Picon (FRA)

Heat 12: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Jay Thompson (AUS), Heitor Alves (BRA)

Heat 13: Taylor Knox (USA), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Jihad Khodr (BRA)

Heat 14: Luke Stedman (AUS), Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA), Michael Campbell (AUS)

Heat 15: Dane Reynolds (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Ben Bourgeois (USA)

Heat 16: Neco Padaratz (BRA), Bruce Irons (HAW), Daniel Wills (AUS)