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By Press Release:
SUNDAY 30 APRIL, 2006
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI
EVENT #3 ON THE 2006 FOSTER'S ASSOCIATION OF SURFING PROFESSIONALS (ASP) MEN'S WORLD TOUR
LIVE on www.billabongpro.com or www.aspworldtour.com
TAHITIAN DUO DOMINATE AIR TAHITI NUI/VON ZIPPER TRIALS IN TAHITI
Heiarii Williams Picture credit: ASP
The heaviest wave on the planet, Teahupoo, will for the next two weeks play host to the true test of the Foster's ASP Men's and ASP Women's World Tours, The Billabong Pro Tahiti.
Teahupoo or "Chopes" as the break is dubbed by those who dare take the challenge, is a bone-crunching left-hander, which crashes down over extremely shallow and razor sharp coral reef, located 400 metres off shore.
While the top 45 men and 17 women are only just arriving to the small fishing village of Teahupoo, over 90 of world's most respected tube riders and local specialists have been battling it out in the Air Tahiti Nui/Von Zipper Trials.
In perfect three metre waves today, Tahitian surfers Hira Terinatoofa and Heiarii Williams both secured main event wildcards, serving notice to the top 45 men, most of whom watched the impressive display from the channel.
A simply awesome exhibition of deep tube riding saw the pair overcome quality international opponents, with Terinatoofa riding a perfect 10 in the quarter final to defeat highest placed Australian Dylan Longbottom and Williams scoring a 9.67 to defeat Hawaiian Danny Fuller in the semi.
Nineteen-year-old Williams, who narrowly missed out on a wildcard from the 2005 trials, remarkably scored above 18 points out of a possible 20 in four of the five heats he surfed in this year's event.
The naturalfooter capped off an amazing event in the final, scoring two near perfect 9.0 rides to narrowly defeat Terinatoofa who scored another perfect 10 on his final wave of the event with only minutes remaining.
"I'm so stoked to make the main event," said Williams in broken English. "The waves are perfect, so many barrels."
A specialist when it comes to riding the tube at Teahupoo, Williams will face the toughest ask of his young surfing career when he faces the best 45 surfers in the world in round one of the Billabong Pro Tahiti main event on May 4th.
There is a possibility that as the lowest seed, Williams may face current world ratings leader Kelly Slater in his opening heat. "I think it will be hard, but maybe I will hard for them as well you know," said Williams. "I am looking forward to it."
Terinatoofa, 25, who for the past two years has received a wildcard into the main event, was forced to earn his spot the hard way through the trials this year.
This will be the third year running he will be a fixture in the main draw with his best finish being an equal ninth in 2004.
The goofyfooter, who is perhaps the best professional surfer from Tahiti at present, had no trouble winning through to the final, racking up two perfect 10 point rides on his way through from the top seeded round six.
"You have to be careful you know, if you have two nines with five minutes remaining, someone can get two 10s and beat you," said Terinatoofa.
Both Williams and Terinatoofa will join directly seeded Tahitian wildcard Manoa Drollet in the main event.
"It's really cool that there will be three Tahitians in the main event against the best surfers in the world," said Terinatoofa. "The local people are going to really support us."
Longbottom, secured the best result for the Australians after fellow countrymen Anthony Walsh, Mark Visser and Josh Fuller were all eliminated in the sixth round.
The naturalfooter, who also reached the quarter finals of the 2005 Air Tahiti Nui/Von Zipper trials, notched up two high scoring rides, but couldn't overcome Terinatoofa's epic 10 pointer in the quarter final.
"He got the best ones but it was just really good to be surfing those perfect barrels with just me and him," said Longbottom. "I wish I went further this year, I was pretty close, but I had a ball so it's all good."
"It really turned on it that heat, the swell direction was perfect and the atmosphere with everyone in the water is just insane," said Longbottom. "I was the last Aussie, so I can be proud of that."
"I tried my best, so that's the main thing."
Bruno Santos finished as the highest placed Brazilian surfer in this year's trials, going down to Tahitian Kevin Johnson in round six.
Santos could do little, as goofyfooter Johnson posted a 9.40 and a 9.73 to score the highest two-wave combined heat score of the event.
While Hawaiian surfers were on par with the Tahitians in the early rounds today, only Danny Fuller managed to reach the semi-finals.
Super casual in his approach to riding deep tube rides, Fuller eliminated fellow Hawaiian Kalani Chapman in the quarter final before going down to Williams in the semi by only 0.3 of a point.
Kilani Chapman Picture credit: ASP
Finishing in equal third with Tahitian Steven Pierson, both surfers will remain in Teahupoo on the strong possibility of scoring a spot in the main event following possible withdrawals from within the top 45.
The Billabong Pro Tahiti will begin on May 4th, all the action can be viewed live via the Internet on www.billabongpro.com or www.aspworldtour.com
Full results can also be viewed via the above websites.
Media Contacts Billabong and the ASP will be providing media information, images and vision from the Air Tahiti Nui/Von Zipper Trials and the Billabong Pro Tahiti.