What: Billabong Pro Tahiti pres. by Air Tahiti Nui, stop No. 3 of 11 on the 2008 ASP World Tour
Where: Teahupoo, Taiarapu, Tahiti
When: May 8-18, 2008
Brazilian surfer BRUNO SANTOS became a legend at Teahupoo today, winning the Billabong Pro Tahiti event after defeating local hero MANOA DROLLET in the all-wildcard final.
The 22 year-old proved himself an all-round Teahupoo specialist, securing his main event wildcard by finishing runner-up in the trials staged in booming 4-metre waves, then again in today’s trickier conditions with his stylish ability.
Surfing conditions deteriorated at the reef break throughout the day from clean 1.5 metre barrels to the one-metre waves on offer for the final.
For only the second time in surfing world tour history two wildcards have battled it out in the final of an ASP event. The other was at Pipeline when Johnny-Boy Gomes defeated fellow Hawaiian Michael Ho in 1997.
Santos kick-started his finals campaign with a rare barrel for a heat high wave score of 5.83, his second counting wave only a 3.33 that saw him finish with a total of 9.16 (out of a possible 20).
Santos proved unstoppable over the three days of competition to become the first Brazilian surfer to win a world tour event since 2002. The goofy footer taking down reigning world champion MICK FANNING (Aus), world no.4 TAJ BURROW (Aus), world no.13 TIM REYES (USA), world no.9 ADRIANO de SOUZA (BRZ) and former world champion CJ HOBGOOD (USA) on his way to the final
Tahiti’s favourite surfing son DROLLET was left in the finals line-up waiting for an illusive barrel that never came. The 31 year-old only managed two low scoring rides of a 4.00 and a 2.80 to finish with a final heat tally of 6.83. DROLLET’S runner-up result the best ever by a local Tahitian surfer at Teahupoo.
Billabong wildcard DROLLET entered the final as the tournament form surfer having barreled his way past the sports biggest names from his opening heat. The crowd favourite seemed to hold some magical power over his local break even managing two perfect rides on the final day.
The soft-spoken Tahitian out-pointed eight time world champion KELLY SLATER (Florida, USA) and C.J. HOBGOOD (USA) in round one. DROLLET then accomplished what no other surfer has been able to do this year when he eliminated world no.1 Slater, from their round three rematch.
Earlier in the day Drollet slotted into a draining barrel for a ten-point ride to take out world no.24 TOM WHITAKER (Aus) in round four before knocking out ADRIAN BUCHAN (Aus) in the quarters. The 31 year-old looked to be out for the count against BUCHAN (Aus) before clocking up two big scores in the dying minutes to advance with a heat total of 17.84 to his opponents 9.83.
Last month DROLLET claimed the prestigious Billabong XXL Monster Tube-Ride Award for his fearless performance in a massive Teahupoo barrel.
SANTOS used better wave selection in his semi-final against HOBGOOD to post a 9.17 and defeat the 2004 Billabong Pro Tahiti champion.
Drollet opened his semi against JOEL PARKINSON (Gold Coast, Aus) with a perfect 10 point-ride that left ‘Parko’ on the back foot for the entire match-up. The result however did see the stylish Australian gain crucial ratings ground with the early elimination of many of the top seeds. PARKINSON now ranked at no.2 behind SLATER heading into the fourth event of eleven on this years tour.
While the reef break didn’t serve up any of its famous monsters for the main event, it used a strong Pacific pulse to test the tube riding skills of the world’s best surfers with pristine two metre (4-6ft) waves on offer for most of the tournament.
Contest Director LUKE EGAN played a near perfect hand with limited wave options in the 11-day waiting period, finalising the ASP men’s world tour event in an almost unheard of three days.
Quarter Final Results
QF1: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 16.33, Andy Irons (Haw) 6.14
QF2: Manoa Drollet (PYF) 17.84, Adrian Buchan (Aus) 9.83
QF3: Bruno Santos (Brz) 9.83, Adriano de Souza (Brz) 9.07
QF4: CJ Hobgood (USA) 15:00, Bruce Irons (Haw) 10:16
SF1: Manoa Drollet 18.33, Joel Parkinson 10.27
SF2: Bruno Santos 14.34, CJ Hobgood 8.67
FINAL: Bruno Santos 9.16, Manoa Drollet 6.83