Rusty team rider & 2004 Pipeline Master Jamie O’Brien has added another prestigious title to his list of achievements by winning the Air Tahiti Nui – Von Zipper Trials.
Teahupoo Tahiti delivered 8-12ft slabs fanned by light offshore winds, creating a perfect arena for world class barrel riders.
O’Brien looked right at home over the coral reef, threading through numerous backside tubes to win through two rounds. Casually falling into the biggest set waves, O’Brien won his first round before stepping it up with the highest heat score in round two. He was the standout performer of the day, scoring two 10-point rides on the way to the final and a near perfect 19.93 out of 20.00.
O’Brien made a last minute decision to compete in the trials after sizing up the promising swell forecast. He had been recovering from a perforated eardrum at home in Hawaii and originally planned not to attend. “It has been a great day, I’ve got a fat lip, a sore eye and I’m still getting barreled,” said O’Brien.
He defeated talented Brazilian goofy footer Bruno Santos in an epic final that saw the Hawaiian steal the lead in the dying minute with a perfect ten.
Earlier rounds of the Trials saw fellow Rusty Teamrider, Jay Davies, prove that age is no barrier to courage at Teahupoo by making it through three heats and earning a position in the fourth round. Davies outclassed his opponents from round one to round three, posting 8.0 and 9.0 point rides on some of the thickest sets of the day. Davies, born and bred in the wave rich region of South West WA took to the heaving tubes with no regard to personal safety, despite having only surfed the break twice before his opening heat today. “It’s a dream come true to be here and get waves like this, I just rode the two biggest barrels of my life.” Davies said.
The win for Jamie O’Brien means he will be awarded a wildcard entry into the Billabong Pro Tahiti main event which runs from the 8-18th May.