Air Tahiti Nui Trials Winner Ricardo Dos Santos Interview I’ve known Ricardo Dos Santos for a few years now after meeting him here in Tahiti. He’s a hard-charging goofyfoot with a clean style and kind demeanor. Ricardo won the trials here last week and after a close loss to Jordy Smith will surf against Taj Burrow in round two of the Billabong Pro Tahiti. I caught up with Ricardo this morning for a quick chat over three cups of instant coffee…
Hometown: Guarda do Embaú, Palhoça, Santa Catarina
Sponsors: Billabong, Nixon, Von Zipper, Wet Dreams accessories, MB surfboards, Rhyno Foam, Biomecanica Funcional.
TransWorld SURF: How many times have you surfed in the trials?
Ricardo Dos Santos: This was the third time but this is my fourth trip to Tahiti. My first time I was here for 40 days, the second time I was here for 40 more days so I’m pretty comfortable here.
How does this upcoming swell make you feel?
I’m scared and excited at the same time. It’ll be cool to surf out there with only one guy. I just want to be in the right place and not get a set on the head.
What’s the biggest you’ve surfed Teahupo‘o?
12-foot a few years ago. I got a good west bowl one but I didn’t surf it as good as the other guys out there like Bruce, Cory, Andy, and Chris Ward. I didn’t even think it was possible to surf those waves. That day I watched and learned a lot.
When it’s that big, do you feel like there’s an advantage going frontside?
It depends. If you’re surfing against someone like Manoa Drollet, then no. You can make a late drop backside better because you can grab the rail when you drop in, but frontside you can see the barrel coming toward you better.
What’s your game plan going to be in your upcoming heat with Taj Burrow?
No plan, just try to surf like I would if I was freesurfing. I reckon if you plan too much you’re gonna get a set on the head, then it’s game over. If it gets big there won’t be any hassling, it’s gonna be about survival.
You lost to Taj in round one of the Billabong Pro Rio. Are you looking to pay him back for that?
I will try to surf my best, I’m not really thinking about who I’m going against. Of course I want to do better, but if you’re thinking like “I’m going to get payback” then it’s not going to happen. It wont be easy, but it’s always hard for wildcards because they go against the top seeded guys.
You lost a close heat to Jordy in round one. Do you think he was pushed through because of his veteran status on the World Tour?
No. I got close but it wasn’t enough to beat him.
A Brazilian trialist (Bruno Santos) has won this event before. What would it mean to you to repeat that? That’s my main goal and I’m going to try my hardest to do the same thing. This is the best place to be [in the Billabong Pro] so you gotta enjoy it and do your best.—Justin Coté