The Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials has a three-day window beginning Saturday, August 11th and is a precursor to stop 5 on the ASP Men’s World Championship Tour, the Billabong Pro, Tahiti. Only the winner is guaranteed a wildcard seed direct into the Billabong Pro’s elite main event. A second position is open to the highest placed local Tahitian surfer - with a total of 16 locals rounding out the total 32-man draw.
All surfers have been chosen based on previous performances at either Teahupo’o or abroad, and for their dedication to riding the world’s most intimidating surf spots. The nature of the Teahupo’o break and the intensity of competition make the competition like no other. In surfing circles, the trials winner is lauded as a minor hero – required to put his life on the line inside the huge barrels that break across dangerously shallow, tropical reef - and the respect earned from his peers is matched only by the might of the break itself.
From there, further glory lies in overcoming one of the Billabong Pro’s top seeds in Round 1 of the main event. In 2012 those seeds include current world ranked no. 1, Mick Fanning (Gold Coast, Qld, AUS), current world ranked no. 2 and reigning World Champion Kelly Slater (Florida, USA) and world ranked no. 3 Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast, Qld AUS).
Historically, the Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials champions have a habit of putting a dent in the world title campaigns of their top-seeded rivals. Most notably in 2007 when relative unknown Brazilian Bruno Santos and local wildcard Manoa Drollet went all the way to the final, finishing first and second respectively. Along with the internationals, an additional field of 16 local Tahitian surfers make up the total trials field of 32. The Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials window runs from August 11th – 13th, with just one day of competition required to find a winner.
INTERNATIONAL INVITEES Jamie O’Brien (Sunset Beach, Oahu, HAW) Anthony Walsh (Lennox Head, NSW, AUS) Bruce Irons (Kauai, HAW) Kamalei Alexander (Kauai, HAW) Bruno Santos (BRA) Mark Matthews (Maroubra, NSW, AUS) Mark Healy (Oahu, HAW) Kalani Chapman (Oahu, HAW) Laurie Towner (Yamba, NSW, AUS) Ricardo Dos Santos (BRA) Dean Bowen (Gerroa, NSW, AUS) Wade Goodall (Sunshine Coast, Qld, AUS) Ben Sanchez (Hossegor, FRA) Matt Bromley (Capetown, ZAF) Alvaro Malpatida (Lima, PER) Shinpae Horiguchi (Wakayama, JPN)
PLUS 16 TAHITIAN LOCALS - TBC (following the completion of the local 'trials for the trials' event) Former Champions Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials 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)