Teahupo’o, Tahiti (Sunday, 11th August 2013) – The two final wildcard spots into the upcoming Billabong Pro Tahiti have been decided with local Alain Riou (PYF), 30, and Aussie Anthony Walsh (AUS), 30, finishing first and second respectively in the Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Trials at Teahupo’o yesterday.
It is the second time Riou has won the trials from eight attempts and the third time he has qualified for the elite Billabong Pro main event. Last year the local goofy qualified by finishing second behind blazing Brazilian Ricardo Dos Santos (BRA).
“I’m stoked to be in the Billabong Pro again. It’s crazy to think I won the trials ten years ago and now I have another shot,” said Riou. “As a wildcard you always draw the high seeds and both times I’ve come up against Mick (Fanning). He’s a good friend of mine, he stays at my house and he won the Billabong Pro last year, so who knows? I might draw him again and I hope I can get him,” said Riou. “Either way, I’ll be bringing my A-game.”
Walsh is another serious Teahupo’o trials campaigner. The hard-charging goofy foot from Lennox Head in NSW, Australia is always a favourite at Teahupo’o and has reached the semis three times – missing out by one spot on each occasion, agonisingly close to a main event berth.
Yesterday however, Walsh dominated and put the hoodoo to rest, solidifying himself a slot in the main draw next week.
“I’m really stoked to get in. That’s my goal coming here – just to make the main event and show everyone what I can do,” said Walsh. “Like Alain, I’ve been in the trials eight times. I qualified with a second one year but then missed out three times by one spot. So it’s really good to get in and hopefully we get good waves,” Walsh said.
Former ASP world No. 6, Nathan “Hog” Hedge (AUS) and local, Poulou Jocelyn (PYF) both reached the semi-finals before going down to Riou and Walsh.
Their hard work may not be in vein, however, with news that ASP WCT ranked surfers Owen Wright (AUS), Dusty Payne (HAW) and Tiago Pres (PRT) will withdraw from the Billabong Pro main event due to injury. Meaning it is almost certain both Hedge and Jocelyn will get a start.
It’s fantastic news for Hedge who has posted career-best results at the infamous lefthander and is serious about requalifying for the Championship Tour following a few years off tour facing more personal challenges, including the loss of his father.
“It’s been six years since I’ve been in Tahiti competing on the World Championship Tour so this result really means a lot to me,” said Hedge. “I’ve been knocking on the door to get a trials spot the last few years and I finally got an invitation.
“I’ve had a second place in the WCT, a third place and I’ve had perfect 10s out at Teahupo’o, so to be back in the main event with another shot is pretty much a dream result for me. It means so much to come here and be back in Tahiti, it’ just huge,” he said.
Good news is the forecast for next week is much more promising. Surfline, official Billabong Pro forecasters, are calling for clean, mid-sized barrelling waves, well timed for the arrival of the world’s top 34 ranked surfers.
The ASP is aware of an incident that took place during the non-sanctioned trials for the Billabong Pro Tahiti. The ASP Rules and Disciplinary Committee is investigating the incident to determine if further action is required. To that end, allow us to reiterate Article 155 of the ASP Rulebook – Violence has no place in professional surfing and will not be tolerated.
The Billabong Pro Tahiti holds a waiting period from August 15 through 26, 2013 and will be webcast LIVE via www.billabongpro.com
AIR TAHITI NUI BILLABONG TRIALS RESULTS
1st place: Alain Riou (PYF) (Billabong Pro Tahiti wildcard + US $1500 + Air Tahiti Nui travel)
2nd place: Anthony Walsh (AUS) (Billabong Pro Tahiti wildcard + US $1000).
SF1: Anthony Walsh (AUS) 9.33pts def Poulou Jocelyn (PYF) 7.53pts (US $600)
SF2: Alain Riou (PYF) 9.00pts def Nathan Hedge (AUS) 7.97pts.
QF1: Anthony Walsh (AUS) 12.24pts def Ian Walsh (HAW) 10.34pts
QF2: Poulou Jocelyn (PYF) 7.73pts def Matt Bromley (ZAF) 5.34pts
QF3: Alain Riou (PYF) 12.83pts def Dandois David (PYF) 7.33pts
QF4: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 11.13pts def Hira Teriinatoofa (PYF) 8.63pts.
Honour Roll – Air Tahiti Nui Trials Champions
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)