TEAHUPO’O, Tahiti (Tuesday, August 11, 2015) - As the world’s best surfers prepare to compete at Stop No. 7 on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Billabong Pro Tahiti, a crop of the best of the rest battled for the two coveted wildcards into the event at the Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Pro Trials.
The trials event ran today and saw Teahupo’o specialists Taumata Puhetini (PYF) and Bruno Santos (BRA) triumph. The pair will join the WSL Top 34 and complete the field for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, which gets underway on Friday, August 14, 2015.
The infamous reef pass of Teahupo’o delivered three-to-four foot surf as 32 surfers fought for a place in the main event. The Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Pro Trials field consisted of eight top finishers from a pre-trials event, eight Tahitian chargers, eight international WSL trialists who have proven themselves at Teahupo'o and eight of Billabong’s most exciting talent that are not currently on the CT.
The winner, Puhetini, and runner-up, Santos, will be seeded into Round 1 of competition in Heats 5 and 6 where they will face three-time WSL Champion and 2012 event winner Mick Fanning (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS), Jeep ratings leader Adriano de Souza (BRA) and Michel Bourez (PYF).
The two Teahupo’o experts powered through to the Final today with Puhetini winning the trials for the third time (previous wins in 2014 and 2010) and Santos earning his fifth wildcard into the main event.
Puhetini, who suffered a horrific wipeout in Round 2 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti last year, is excited to again earn a place in the contest.
“That is in the past and long forgotten,” said Puhetini. “I love Teahupo’o and I'm looking forward to the waves. I hope to surf against my good friend Italo (Ferreira) in the main event because I love his surfing.”
Santos, 2008 Billabong Pro Tahiti winner, is also looking forward to charging some solid waves this year at his favorite location.
“Today was fun small Teahupo’o with some really workable waves and barrel sections, but we’re really looking forward to some bigger swells coming and I’m confident we’ll see good waves in a few days for the main event,” said Santos, who dedicated his win to good friend and two-time trials winner Ricardo Dos Santos (BRA) who tragically died in January this year.
Matt Banting (AUS) and Jordy Smith (ZAF) have withdrawn from the Billabong Pro Tahiti due to ongoing injuries. Smith and Banting both suffered freesurf injuries during the J-Bay Open in July and WSL replacement surfers Aritz Aranburu (ESP) and Garrett Parkes (AUS) will compete in their places.
Surfline, official forecaster for the World Surf League, are calling for:
Medium size, mid to shorter period SSW swell looks likely over the weekend. Easing swell/surf should prevail early next week. Going into the long range, a series of modest to medium size SW swells look possible during the last few days of the waiting period.
The world's best surfing is also be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports in Australia, MCS Extreme in France, EDGE Sports in China, South Korea, Malaysia and other territories and on Globo TV in Brazil.
Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA), Jadson Andre (BRA), Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Keanu Asing (HAW), Aritz Aranburu (ESP)
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Garrett Parkes (AUS)
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS), TBD
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Michel Bourez (PYF), TBD
Heat 7: Nat Young (USA), Kai Otton (AUS), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 8: Taj Burrow (AUS), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 9: Josh Kerr (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 10: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Gabriel Medina (BRA), Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 11: Bede Durbidge (AUS), John John Florence (HAW), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)Heat 12: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA)