World surfing championship leader Mick Fanning survived a sudden death second-round heat on the opening day of the event at Tahiti's Teahupoo reef on Thursday.
The Australian scored 17.60 points out of 20 to pip dangerous local wildcard Alain Riou (16.63) in the first of two second-round heats completed in shifting waves of one to 1.5 metres.
There was an upset in the other as two-time trials winner Ricardo dos Santos of Brazil eliminated SOuth Africa's world No.8 Jordy Smith.
Brazil's world No.4 Adriano de Souza took top honours for the day, threading two impressive barrels on his backhand to collect a near-perfect 19.43 points as one of 12 round-one winners.
Australian round-one winners, getting direct entry to the third round, were world No.3 Joel Parkinson, No.5 Taj Burrow, Josh Kerr, Adrian Buchan and Owen Wright.
Eleven-time world champion Kelly Slater, second to Fanning on the championship ladder, also won through but barely made his heat as he delayed his departure from California.
"It's not often that the waves in California are better than Tahiti, but there hasn't been a whole lot of surf here and we've had pretty good waves at home," said the American.
The Billabong Pro Tahiti is event five of ten on the world tour.