2008 Billabong Pro Tahiti: Final Day

Surf: Three feet and iffy
Events held: Round four to final
Nature's Call: This ain't NOTHIN' compared to what I'm gonna do to ya in Fiji
Predicted: An incredible day of bombs...on Monday

"I know I would find it hard to match Mick and those guys in turns," Bruno Santos told Surfing magazine, endearingly, while the drums beat outside.

"That's why I try to surf Pipe and here in Tahiti..."

Then the drums started beating louder, the event presentation ceremony kicked into full tropical Tahitian gear, and he was dragged outside the small grass hut in which Surfing magazine had pinned him, in hopes of divining the tale behind Teahupo'o's most unlikely winner since... jeez, since Koby Abberton in 1998.

A Brazilian surfer whose rep is built on TOTALLY CHARGING MASSIVE LEFT BARRELS? Who's allowed into the trials at both Pipe AND Chopes? Who's tried to make it work through the WQS ... and hasn't, 'cause the waves aren't good enough?

This is just soooo against the stereotype, it's ridiculous!

But man, it wasn't ridiculous to Adriano de Souza. Adriano, who also had a damn good Billabong Pro, scoring big all the way until knocked by Bruno this morning in lame-o three foot reef trickles, was wide-eyed and stoked and shaking everyone's hands. "Bruno put a little more chilli into this event," Adriano told Surfing. "He did it the hard way, came through the trials, beat Fanning, {{{CJ}}}, all hard guys... There was a change here for us in Brazil."

OK, so here's the short version. Bruno Santos, from {{{Rio}}} de Janeiro, grew up surfing Sacquarema Beach, which he swears occasionally gets some large and pretty special beachbreak barrels. Looked up to head local Guilherme Herdy, who charged the WCT for a number of years through the mid-'90s to early '00s. Did the WQS for three years without qualifying; figures he'll keep trying. Though bloody hell, it'll be weird paddling out at some two-foot mushburger in Portugal after this moment in the sun.

Bruno's great surfing - where he really truly earned this win - happened three weeks ago in the trials, which as usual got the kind of jaw-droppingly epic surf everyone hopes for in the main event.

He surfed seven heats, including the final, came second to Jamie O'Brien, paddle-surfed an afternoon when everyone else towed, and generally covered himself with glory. Result: the wildcard, and a really nasty gash in his right thigh, which required 50 stitches.

He had 15 days between that and the main event's first day in order to recover, which he only partially did - a white plaster stuck on his thigh was a constant companion of Bruno's during his unbelievable march through the cream of the rankings.

How DID he dust guys like Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow, CJ Hobgood, and finally Manoa Drollet - the guy he faced down in the first WCT wildcard final since Pipe in 1997?

"I just tried to ride the tube ... I know I can't match their turns, but I know here that doesn't matter so much," he told us. Bruno is a humble man.

Manoa was kicking himself afterward. The big wave local hero roared into the final with the momentum of a south-west Teahupo'o bomb, scoring two 10s in the morning heats and blowing away Tom Whitaker, Ace Buchan, and a similarly in-form Joel Parkinson in the process. But in the final, when the surf really turned foul, he couldn't find a thing.

As for the top 45, ouch! Perhaps Joel Parkinson summed it up best: "Do us a favor," he beseeched Surfing, "tell 'em how the top 44 got barred from the points!" He's right. He and CJ earned the best placings as far as the ratings race goes, for their equal thirds.

Joel now sits behind Kelly Slater in second, and behind him, the queue is beginning to build. On form from this event, a lot of surfers could win events right now.

But for now, they'll have to take a back seat to Mr Santos...and the Brazilians will be celebrating for days.

2008 Billabong Pro Champion Bruno Santos

(1st wins $US 30,000; 2nd wins $US 16,000)

Bruno Santos def. Manoa Drollet

(1st advances to Final; 2nd finishes =3rd)

Heat 1: Manoa Drollet def. Joel Parkinson
Heat 2: Bruno Santos def. CJ Hobgood

(1st advances to Semifinals; 2nd finishes =5th)

Heat 1: Joel Parkinson def. Andy Irons
Heat 2: Manoa Drollet def. Adrian Buchan
Heat 3: Bruno Santos def. Adriano de Souza
Heat 4: CJ Hobgood def. Bruce Irons

(1st advances to Quarters; 2nd finishes =9th)

Heat 1: Andy Irons def. Luke Stedman
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson def. Dane Reynolds
Heat 3: Adrian Buchan def. Dean Morrison
Heat 4: Manoa Drollet def. Tom Whitaker
Heat 5: Bruno Santos def. Tim Reyes
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza def. Kai Otton
Heat 7: CJ Hobgood def. Chris Ward
Heat 8: Bruce Irons def. Mikael Picon