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Date Posted: 22:58:05 05/08/02 Wed
Author: Tweety
Subject: Maybe yo can give us a firsthand report on the surf on Tahiti! Hmmm?

Life's a beach for stranded surfers
Wed May 8, 3:11 AM ET

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Some of the world's top surfers have been beached in Tahiti with their surfboards marooned in New Zealand, forcing them to sit on the sand watching perfect waves rolling in during the opening round of a competition.

Some 24 surfers, including former world champions Mark Occhilupo and Layne Beachley, have been stranded without their boards for two days, missing vital practice at the Billabong Pro competition on the Teahupoo reef.

The competition is at arguably the world's most dangerous reef break, where giant waves break on less than a metre (three feet) of water.

Reigning ASP World Champ CJ Hobgood from Florida in the U.S. surfs to
advance to round three of the Billabong Pro at Teahupoo in Tahiti May 7, 2002.
The Billabong Pro is the third event on 2002 ASP World Championship Tour
featuring the top 45 ASP surfers in the world. REUTERS/Pierre Tostee/ASP

"Organisers are currently working in conjunction with airline officials to transport over 50 surfboards which have been stranded in New Zealand," Mandy McKinnon, a spokeswoman for Billabong surfwear, said in a statement received on Wednesday.

The stranded surfboards and luggage, Beachley has been reportedly forced to borrow a bikini for a swim, forced organisers to start the contest with fewer heats on Tuesday.

For those without a surfboard it was a matter of sitting on the beach and watching perfect six to eight feet (two to 2.5 metre) surf tube across the Teahupoo reef.

Organisers are expecting 12 feet (four metre) surf in the coming days and without vital practice sessions some surfers could be forgiven for being nervous.

One surfer has already had three stitches inserted under his chin after an encounter with the reef during practice, a photographer has been slammed on the reef, splitting open his head, and the doctor's boat capsized.

"Fear definitely comes into it. You've got to be on your toes. It's really scary," Occhilupo told The Australian newspaper.

In 2000, a Tahitian surfer was killed during a contest at Teahupoo. The surfer tried to push his surfboard under a huge tubing wave, but was sucked up by the wave and slammed onto the reef.


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