Billabong Pro Tahiti

Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Pro Trials to Go Big

2014 Billabong Pro Tahiti - Official Trailer
As the pros prepare to tackle one of the heaviest waves in the world, get a taste of Tahiti's famous reef break.

As the world's best surfers prepare to compete at the 2014 Billabong Pro Tahiti, a crop of the best of the rest will battle for the two remaining spots in the event at the Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Pro Trials August 9 - 12. The surfers will face off in the best possible conditions for a chance compete against the Top 34 at the ASP World Championship Tour event, which runs August 15 - 26.

The Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Pro Trials field includes local Tahitian chargers, a crew of international surfers who have proven themselves at Teahupo'o, and some of the Billabong team's most exciting talent currently not on Tour. The winner and the highest-placed local surfer will be slotted into Round 1 at the Billabong Pro, and are likely to face off against ASP World Nos. 1 and 2, Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Joel Parkinson (AUS). The annual Trials attract a stellar field as well as attention from surf fans worldwide. Winners of the event have traditionally caused upsets and surprises in the race for the ASP World Title.

Manoa Drollet Manoa Drollet at home in a Teahupo'o tunnel. - WSL / Sean Rowland

Manoa Drollet (PYF) is the most experienced of the local hopefuls. The Tahitian charger has surfed in the Billabong Pro Tahiti six times, including a third-place finish in the first ASP World Championship event at Teahupo'o in 1999, and a runner-up finish to Bruno Santos (BRA) in the all-wildcard final in 2008.

“It's an exciting time of year,” Drollet said. “Teahupo'o is my favorite wave and you get a chance to surf against the best in the world. To be from Tahiti and have the chance to compete in this event is a great opportunity.

"The forecast is looking really good, if it doesn't change from what I saw, this event could be all-time. It's not going to be super big, but 8, 10, 12 feet maybe. Most of the guys on Tour are starting to get really good out there, they know it as much as me -- I love watching Kelly Slater (USA) and Parko and Mick Fanning (AUS) too. There's an exciting young generation of Tahitians coming up, they know to be good at Teahupo'o is important and they will be good to watch.”

Jack Robinson Juniors athlete Jack Robinson getting acquainted with Teahupo'o on a recent trip. Credit: Pat Stacy. - WSL

Juniors surfer Jack Robinson (AUS) got his first taste of Teahupo'o just a couple weeks ago on a Billabong Bloodlines trip, and it made an impression. The 16-year-old West Australian was a standout in a number of freesurf sessions and is keen to see if he can make an impact in a competition jersey.

“Teahupo'o is unbelievable,” Robinson said. “Just how clean it is and being able to paddle such a big volume slab of a wave. I've seen a million photos and videos, but doing it in person is better than I could have imagined. My favorite Teahupo'o vision is of that code red day [in 2011]. Some of that slow motion video is insane.”

Ricardo dos Santos (BRA) won the trials in both 2011 and 2012 had an impressive run at at the Billabong Pro Tahiti in 2012, finishing equal 5th place after losing to Fanning in the Quarterfinals. While Fanning won the event that year, Dos Santos did some damage in the draw, eliminating Slater and Taj Burrow (AUS) with some impressive tube riding.

“It's always a pleasure to surf with only a couple guys out at Chopes,” said Dos Santos. “It feels amazing to have the opportunity of choosing the best wave of the set and just go for it.

"Teahupo'o puts you in your place. That wave never lets you feel 100 percent comfortable, that's why it is the best feeling ever when you make the barrel. My last wave against Kelly [Slater] gave me the best feeling of my life. I knew that I got the score, and I could feel that the ocean chose me in that moment.”

Bruno dos Santos Bruno Santos in a barrel below sea level. - WSL

Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Pro Trials will run from Aug 9 - 12. Find results and photos at

Local Qualifiers
Alain Riou
Jocelyn Poulou
Hira Teriinatoofa
Heiarii Williams
Manoa Drollet
Enrique Ariitu
Tuhiti Haumani
Tikanui Smith
Another eight locals will be added to draw through a pre-Trials event

Damien Hobgood (USA)
Ian Walsh (HAW)
Anthony Walsh (AUS)
Nathan Hedge (AUS)
Bruce Irons (HAW)
Kamalei Alexander (HAW)
Bruno Santos (BRA)
Koa Rothman (HAW)

Billabong Surfers
Ricardo dos Santos (BRA)
Jack Robinson (AUS)
Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Josh Moniz (HAW)
Seth Moniz (HAW)
Griffin Colapinto (USA)
Taylor Clark (USA)
Alejandro Moreda (PRI)

Replacement surfers
Makua Rothman (HAW)
Dusty Payne (HAW)
Ryan Hipwood (AUS)

Past Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials Winners
2012 Ricardo Dos Santos (BRA)
2011 Ricardo Dos Santos (BRA)
2010 Tuamata Puhetini (PFY)
2009 Heiarii Williams (PFY)
2008 Jamie O'Brien (HAW)
2007 Manoa Drollet (PFY)
2006 Heiarii Williams (PFY)
2005 Manoa Drollet (PFY)
2004 Heimata Carroll (PFY)
2003 Alain Riou (PFY)
2002 Vetea David (PFY)
2001 Bruce Irons (HAW)