What: Billabong Pro Tahiti – Air Tahiti Nui/Von Zipper Trials, ASP Trials Event for Billabong Pro
Where: Teahupoo Taiarapu-Tahiti
When: 8 – 18 May 2008
Hawaiian hot-shot Jamie O’Brien, 24, has added another prestigious title to his list of achievements by winning the Air Tahiti Nui Von Zipper Trials in heaving 6-8ft slabs at Teahupoo in Tahiti.
The 2006 Pipeline Masters Champion defeated talented Brazilian Bruno Santos in an epic final that saw the natural footer steal victory in the last 40-seconds with a perfect ten point ride. After locking in some of the most amazing tube rides of the day on his way to the final, O’Brien started strongly in the 30-minute decider with an 8.50 followed shortly after by a 7.17 score.
Santos fired back quickly and took what looked like an unassailable lead courtesy of a 7.93 and a near perfect 9.50 for a super deep and committed Teahupoo tube ride. But O’Brien wasn’t done, scratching on to a huge set with only moments on the clock to lock in the perfect score and claim the win.
“I’ve never come from behind the eight ball like that in the last minute,” said O’Brien. “I figured it’s the kind of stuff Kelly (Slater) does, so I thought I would give it a try.” O’Brien was the standout performer of the event, scoring two 10-point rides on the way to the final and a near perfect 19.93 out of 20.00 in the quarter finals.
“I knew the swell was going to be bombing when I came down here and the wind looked insane, so the whole event was super special,” he said. “One of the things I have always wanted to win was a Teahupoo Trials and I put that on my list a few years ago. “I have nailed that and now I have a chance to be in the main event and have fun.”
With a Men’s World Tour event title already credited to his name after winning the Pipeline Masters as a wildcard, O’Brien looks set to shake things up when the big guns arrive at the fishing village of Teahupoo to contest the Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui on May 8th. The brash Hawaiian faces a tough task in round one, pitted against countryman Pancho Sullivan and reigning world champion Mick Fanning.
“I’m not worried about the main event, barrel riding is what I do, I travel the world so I can go and surf barrels. I’m down for the main event, I’ll take them down.”
For Santos, 25, the runner up finish has rewarded him with a wildcard for the second year running after placing third in the 2007 trials. The diminutive goofy footer notched up two perfect tens during competition over the past two days.
“I’m still happy because I still get my place in the main event, so I want to get barrelled some more,” he said. “I enjoyed every heat of this contest because I got to surf perfect Teahupoo with just me and one other guy.” “Last year the main event was too small and I hoping this year we will get some big barrels because it will be a pleasure to surf against the top 45.”
Underground Australian charger Damien Wills placed third in today’s trials and will start as first alternate for the Billabong Pro Tahiti should any of the world’s top 45 surfers withdraw from the event. After gaining entry into the trials as an alternate and flying to Tahiti at the last minute, the underrated Wills dominated the Teahupoo line-up, scoring some of the biggest tubes and wipe-outs over the three day competition.
Check out the video highlights from the trials…
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