Local Tahitian Tuamata Puhetini, clinching the trials for the second time yesterday. Photo: ASP.
Teahupo’o’s infamous reef pass came to life yesterday and saw 32 trialists fight tooth and nail for two wildcard spots into the main event.
With six to eight foot barrels exploding onto the razor sharp reef, it was local favourite Tuamata Puhetini who managed to put together another winning performance (having already won the trials in 2010).
“The surf was fantastic today!” Puhetini said. “I can’t believe I won it again, everyone was surfing very well. I won the Trials in 2010 and it was a great experience, and I’m really looking forward to taking on the best guys out there in the Billabong Pro.”
The other wildcard spot going to Aussie goofy tour veteran Nathan Hedge, who finished 2nd place. Hedgy, who competed in the main event last year via a wildcard entry, will undoubtedly be looking to do more damage come Friday.
“It was a day for the Tahitians with Tuamata (Puhetini) taking the win,” Hedge said. “I’m really stoked to have made the final. I got some of the best waves of my life today, it’s like a dream. It’s a big risk coming here for the Trials, there’s only one spot for internationals surfers up for grabs, and I got it. It was a magical day, this is why we surf. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Bourez family. Kevin loves to charge, he’s amazing kid and surfer and I’m wishing him a full recovery and may he return to the ocean some time soon.”
The Hog, 2014 Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Pro Trials runner-up. CREDIT: ASP/Robertson.
Very unfortunately yesterday also witnessed one horrific wipeout from Michel Bourez’ younger brother Kevin who, after hitting the reef head first, had to be raced to Taravao hospital before being transferred to Taaone where he was immediately operated on. Having suffered multiple head fractures and deep facial lacerations, surgery lasted up to four hours but fortunately, according to the ASP, the young Tahitian’s condition is said to be stable.
Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials Winners
2014 Tuamata Puhetini (PYF)
2013 Alain Riou (PYF)
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)