Contest organisers at the 6th stop on the 2013 ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) Men’s World Championship Tour are confident of starting the Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Trials at Teahupo’o, Tahiti tomorrow, with official event forecasters, Surfline, calling for a small/short-period SE swell.
The annual trials tournament decides the final two wildcard spots into the Billabong Pro with the elite field made up of 16 international invitees plus 16 local Tahitians, all reputed for their dedication to riding Teahupo’o and the world’s most fearsome breaks.
Leading the charge for the locals is Teahupo’o heavyweight, Manoa Drollet. The 35 year-old from nearby Papara is a two-time trials winner (2005, 2007) and former main-event runner-up (2007). Thanks to countless inspiring performances at the location, he is considered a master of the break.
Brazilian Ricardo Dos Santos (BRA) heads the list of internationals invitees - the 23 year-old played the role of giant killer last year, becoming the first surfer to win the trials back-to-back. He then went on to eliminate Kelly Slater (Fl. USA) from Round 3 of the main event thanks to an incredible last-minute tube ride that had fans on the edge of their seats.
Mick Fanning (AUS), 32, defending Billabong Pro champion and current No. 1 on the ASP World Championship Tour ratings knows just how dangerous the wildcards can be.
“The Tahitian wildcards and trialists at Teahupo’o have done some real damage in the past,” explains Fanning. “The locals are obviously psyched to see the Tahitians do well and they get out there in their boats and give them an incredible amount of support. Then there’s the specialists – guys that generally spend a fair bit of time at Chopes. They’re there a week before the trials and have already surfed a few heats out there before you come up against them, so they are completely in the zone and ready to go.”
The successful trialists are ultimately pitted against the top seeds of the Billabong Pro main event; namely Fanning, current world ranked number two Kelly Slater (Florida, USA) and third ranked and reigning Men’s ASP World Champion, Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast, Qld AUS).
The Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Trials window runs from August 10th – 12th, with just one day of competition required to find a winner.
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AIR TAHITI NUI BILLABONG TRIALISTS (The winner plus highest placed Tahitian earn Billabong Pro, main event wildcards. If the winner is Tahitian, then 2nd place is awarded the wildcard)
Ricardo Dos Santos (BRA)
Bruno Santos (BRA)
Manoa Drollet (PYF)
Laurie Towner (AUS) tbc
Nathan Hedge (AUS)
Anthony Walsh (AUS)
Jamie O’Brien (HAW)
Bruce Irons (HAW)
Danny Fuller (HAW) tbc
Ian Walsh (HAW)
Matt Bromley (ZAF)
Alvaro Malpatida (PER)
Ben Sanchez (FRA)
Shinpei Horiguchi (JPN)
Yan Dakerbow (BRA)
Alex Gray (USA)