Jamie O’Brien Wins The Teahupo’o Trials

Teahupoo, Tahiti (Monday 28th April 2008): HAWAIIAN hot-shot Jamie O'Brien, 24, has added another prestigious title to his list of achievements by winning the Air Tahiti Nui – Von Zipper Trials in heaving 6-8ft slabs at Teahupoo in Tahiti.

The 2006 Pipeline Masters Champion defeated talented Brazilian Bruno Santos in an epic final that saw the natural footer steal victory in the last 40-seconds with a perfect ten point ride.

After locking in some of the most amazing tube rides of the day on his way to the final, O'Brien started strongly in the 30-minute decider with an 8.50 followed shortly after by a 7.17 score.

Santos fired back quickly and took what looked like an unassailable lead courtesy of a 7.93 and a near perfect 9.50 for a super deep and committed Teahupoo tube ride. But O'Brien wasn't done, scratching on to a huge set with only moments on the clock to lock in the perfect score and claim the win.

"I've never came from behind the eight ball like that in the last minute," said O'Brien. "I figured it's the kind of stuff Kelly (Slater) does, so I thought I would give it a try."

O'Brien was the standout performer of the event, scoring two 10-point rides on the way to the final and a near perfect 19.93 out of 20.00 in the Quarter's.

"I knew the swell was going to be bombing when I came down here and the wind looked insane, so the whole event was super special," he said. "One of the things I have always wanted to win was a Teahupoo Trials and I put that on my list a few years ago.

"I have nailed that and now I have a chance to be in the main event and have fun."

With a Men's World Tour event title already credited to his name after winning the Pipeline Masters as a wildcard, O'Brien looks set to shake things up when the big guns arrive at the fishing village of Teahupoo to contest the Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui on May 8th.

The brash Hawaiian faces a tough task in round one, pitted against countryman Pancho Sullivan and reigning world champion Mick Fanning.

"I'm not worried about it (Main Event), barrel riding is what I do, I travel the world so I can go and surf barrels.

"I'm down for the main event, I'll take them down."

For Santos, 25, the runner up finish has rewarded him with a wildcard for the second year running after placing third in the 2007 trials. The diminutive goofy footer notched up two perfect tens during competition over the past two days, including what was arguably the ride of the event against Australian Damien Wills (Copacabana) in the Semi.

In the same Semi, Santos was crushed inside a giant closeout tube and was gashed by his surfboard on his upper thigh. After simply taping the wound in the line-up, the Teahupoo specialist returned to win the match-up and surf with the cut still open and bleeding throughout the final.

He was treated with multiple internal and external sutures on site after the event and will be resting until the main event starts in 10-days.

"I'm still happy because I still get my place in the main event, so I want to get barrelled some more," he said. "I enjoyed every heat of this contest because I got to surf perfect Teahupoo with just me and one other guy."

"Last year the main event was too small and I hoping this year we will get some big barrels because it will be a pleasure to surf against the top 45."

Underground Australian charger Damien Wills placed third in today's trials and will start as first alternate for the Billabong Pro Tahiti should any of the world's top 45 surfers withdraw from the event.

After gaining entry into the trials as an alternate and flying to Tahiti at the last minute, the underrated Wills dominated the Teahupoo line-up, scoring some of the biggest tubes and wipe-outs over the three day competition.

"There are so many good guys who could all make the final out there, it just came down to a bit of strategy and just having a go," he said. "I didn't want to miss out on this, so I was stoked just to get a start in the event and I was over the moon to be part of it."

Recent history has proven that trials alternates generally receive a place in the main draw, something Wills said would be the opportunity of a lifetime.

"It would be amazing, I have never competed in a 'CT or even come close to doing that before," he said. "It would be a huge achievement for me and I couldn't be happier."

Tahitian veteran and former world tour surfer Vetea "Poto" David proved why he has been so dominant at Teahupoo during his long surfing career by also reaching the semi finals. The pig-dogging power surfer had Jamie O'Brien on the ropes in the semi, before the Superfreak pounced on a perfect set wave a pipped the Tahitian to the post.

Also working on the events Tahitian Water Patrol, ensuring the safety of the competitors with PWC assistance in the line-up, Poto will start as second alternate and may again get to surf on the tour he travelled on as the first Tahitian pro surfer.

Notable mentions also go to Danny Fuller (HAW) and 16-year-old Tahitian Tamaroa McComb who put on a scintillating display on the final day but were eliminated in the Quarter Finals. McComb locked into a huge tube in round five to score a perfect 10-point ride and establish himself further as one of the most promising young surfers on the planet.

The Billabong Pro Tahiti and Air Tahiti Nui – Von Zipper Trials is supported internationally by Air Tahiti Nui, Bose, Yamaha Waverunner, Von Zipper, Kustom and Nixon. The event is also supported domestically in Tahiti by Coca-Cola, {{{Hyundai}}}, Mana OPT and RFO Television.

For all the photos and results from the Von Zipper / Air Tahiti Nui trials event as well as all the info on the upcoming Billabong Pro Tahiti, visit www.BillabongPro.com