Ricardo Dos Santos Wins The Teahupo‘o Trials

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Air Tahiti Nui/Von Zipper trials winner Ricardo Dos Santos with his Tahitian family, the Maoni's. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Ricardo Dos Santos Wins The Teahupo‘o Trials

Dos Santos and Heiarii Williams to battle World Tour surfers in Billabong Pro Tahiti; Bruce Irons rides his brother’s winning board from the 2010 event.

(Sunday, August 14th, 2011): The final two wildcard positions in event #5 on the Association of Surfing Professionals Men’s World Tour, the Billabong Pro, have been decided today with Brazilian Ricardo Dos Santos (Guarda Do Embau, BRA) and local Heiarri Williams (PYF) finishing first and second respectively in the Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials at Teahupo’o.

Santos and Williams went wave for wave in the 25-minute decider to finish ahead of 30 other international invitees to claim the coveted wildcard spots in the event that is considered the most prestigious of its kind on the annual pro surfing calendar.

Just the winner and highest placed local are given a shot of taking on the likes of Kelly Slater (USA), current world number 1 Joel Parkinson (AUS) and recent ASP Tour winner, Jordy Smith (ZAF) in the Billabong Pro main event which starts next week (Aug 20th – 31st).

2011 Air Tahiti Nui/Von Zipper Teahupo‘]o trials winner Ricardo Dos Santos. Photo: Michael Clark

2011 Air Tahiti Nui/Von Zipper Teahupoo trials winner Ricardo Dos Santos. Photo: Michael Clark.

Santos amassed plenty of time inside Teahupoo’s tubes en route to his trials victory, the 21-year old finishing on 14.33 points out of a possible 20 to Williams’ 11.33 total. When the goofy foot pulls on the colored jersey again in a week’s time, it will be his second shot at glory this year, having already received a main event wildcard into the Rio Pro in homewaters back in May.

“I feel amazing, it’s been a long day of getting barreled and having fun in front of friends. To qualify for the main event is the best thing that could have happened today, so for that I am so stoked. I’ve been here the last four years and training I don’t know what the conditions will be like next week, but I don’t care. I’m ready,” said Santos.

Williams is a two-time former Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials winner, having claimed the event in spectacular fashion in awesome conditions in 2006 and then again in 2009. With an armada full of local family and fans cheering him on from the channel, Williams was spurred to his third trials final appearance, taking down former Billabong Pro Tahiti champion, Bruno Santos (BRA) in the quarter-finals.

Finishing equal third today and missing out on main event wildcard qualification were Australian Anthony Walsh (NSW, AUS) and Tereva David (PYF). Walsh looked on track for a finals berth after the Teahupo’o specialist pulled off a Houdini act in his opening heat. Penalized with a paddling interference in the first few minutes, Walsh rallied to register the highest individual wave score of the day – a near perfect 9.8 out of a possible 10 and advance in second on a two-wave combined heat total 13.42 points total behind Santos.

Walsh’s momentum ran out when it counted most however, going down against Santos in their semi’s re-match.

Hawaiian Bruce Irons (Kauai, HAW) made a rare competitive appearance at the venue where his late brother, three-times ASP Men’s World Champion, Andy Irons, remains defending champion having won here in 2010. Bruce rode one of Andy’s boards and logged up some tube-time in his opening heat, before being eliminated in a lully Round 2 affair against Walsh, local Taumata Puhetini (PYF) and Tikanui Smith (PYF).

Bruce Irons on his brother Andy's magical board. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Bruce Irons on his brother Andy's magical board. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

“I haven’t been to Tahiti for a few years, you know it’s just nice to be out here. It’s the first surf I’ve had in a while, it feels nice. I’ve been coming here to Tahiti since I was like 15, it’s a good spot, it has a special place in my heart,” said Irons. “I came here to surf this contest, cause my brother would want me to do that, so…competing for me is all about having fun these days. Whether I win or lose is another thing, it’s no longer the end of the world. I just try to have fun, that’s what it’s all about,” he added.