Day 1 of the Air Tahiti Nui/Von Zipper Trials goes down in heaving 6-8 foot barrels at what’s generally known as “The World’s Heaviest Wave” aka Teahupo‘o. Check out Anthony Walsh’s perfect 10 and Kamalei Alexander’s backside drainer and stay tuned for results and more importantly, who will be the Wildcard in the 2010 Billabong Pro Tahiti.
Monday, August 16th 2010: Local Tahiti Timeline (Billabong Pro, Teahupo’o, Tahiti): Mother Nature has flicked the switch at Tahiti’s famed surf break, Teahupo’o, turning on a magical day of surfing for contestants in the Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials.
Invitees from more than 10 nations battled it out in solid eight-to-ten foot waves one Day 1, hoping for one of just two wildcard spots into the upcoming Billabong Pro, Tahiti (Aug 23rd – Sept 3rd).
Laurie Towner (NSW, AUS) was the day’s top scorer, his two-wave combined heat score of 16.97 seeing the natural foot advance comfortably ahead of Shimpei Hirogushi (JAP) on 9.93, and forcing the elimination of Sion Milosky (HAW) and Dale Staples (ZAF).
Towner took a horrifying wipeout during practice yesterday, yet despite the worst fears of onlookers, surfaced unscathed to regather himself and register today’s impressive effort.
Kamalei Alexander (HAW) was another standout on Day 1. The Hawaiian showed he was in perfect synch with the Teahupo’o lineup, easily winning both his Round 1 and Round 2 heats with an absolutely committed display of backhand tube riding.
Onlookers erupted when Alexander emerged from one of the most critical tube rides of the day, skimming past support boats and fans as they cheered him on.
Anthony Walsh (NSW, AUS) registered the event’s first perfect-10 point ride with just ten seconds remaining in his Round 2 clash versus Hawaii’s Hank Gaskell (HAW) and locals Tuhiti HAUMANI and David DANDOIS (PFY).
The score catapulted Walsh from last place to first in the dying moments and secured the Australian a place in Round 3.
Not all competitors were so fortunate, many suffering the wrath of Teahupo’o has they unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate the hi-speed tubes. Among those to be eliminated today were Billy Kemper (HAW), Ryan Hipwood (Gold Coast, AUS), Makua Rothman (HAW) and Nick Vasicek (AUS).
With the excellent surf expected to continue, organisers are confident of crowning the Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials wildcards tomorrow (Tuesday Aug 17 – Tahiti time).
The Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trails waiting period is 16th – 19th August and decides the remaining two wildcard spots into the upcoming Billabong Pro, Tahiti, stop 5 of 10 on the 2010 ASP Men’s World Tour.
The Billabong Pro, Tahiti waiting period begins August 23rd and runs to Sept 3rd, with just four full days of competition required to crown a champion.
Local hero Manoa Drollet, a two-time Air Tahiti Nui trials winner, is the recipient of the third Billabong Pro, Tahiti wildcard and has already been allocated a main event seed.
Billabong’s award winning production team will again webcast every heat of the Billabong Pro, Tahiti live via: www.billabongpro.com