Tahiti: a place where wipe outs are quite frequent

Surfers competing in the Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials, the precursor to event number 5 on the ASP Men’s World Tour, the Billabong Pro, Tahiti, have been blessed with the ultimate warm-up at the legendary Tahitian break, “Teahupo’o” today.

Waves in the eight-to-10-foot range (3.5 metres) broke throughout the day allowing dozens of international arrivals to practise ahead of tomorrow’s Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials. Organisers are confident the first heat of the prestigious 64-man invitational will begin in similar conditions at 8:00am Monday 16th August.

Thirty-two internationals including surfers from Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, USA, South Africa, Brazil and Peru have flown in to compete at Teahupo’o and will fight it out against an additional 32 local invitees for just two wildcard spots into the Billabong Pro, Tahiti main event.

Last minute changes to the trials draw sees the inclusion of Nathan Fletcher (USA), Dylan Longbottom, Michael Hopkins (AUS), Makua Rothman, TJ Barron (HAW) and Fergal Smith (IRE).

Local hero Manoa Drollet, a two-time Air Tahiti Nui trials winner, is the recipient of the third Billabong Pro wildcard and has already been allocated a main event seed where he will face off in the first round against the likes of either world-rated #1 Jordy Smith (ZAF), world rated #2 Taj Burrow (AUS) or world rated #3 Kelly Slater (USA).

Competition is fierce with all invitees regarded as fearless tube riders and lovers of big-waves.

The Billabong Pro, Tahiti is unlike any other event on the ASP Men’s World Tour. Spectators are afforded an unrivalled view from the deep channel that runs beside the intense, shallow reef break and on big days surfers are known to skim through the cheering crowds, water still dripping from them following incredible tube rides.

In excess of 140 media and personnel are accommodated by Air Tahiti Nui and preparations begin many months in advance. The 12-metre, three level tower that houses the ASP’s judges, the Billabong Pro webcast team, commentators and VIP media can only be constructed during calm seas and is built from scratch each year.

Every heat of the Billabong Pro, Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui is webcast live with previous Billabong Pro viewing audiences topping more than 1.5 million people. Millions more will be able to watch the 2010 webcast live via FUEL TV (and its network affiliates) in countries as diverse as Portugal, Australia, France and South Africa.

Pascal Luciani of the Fédération Tahitienne de Surf also anticipates the Billabong Pro will be the first international event to utilise the “Honotua”, the submarine communications cable system that connects several islands of French Polynesia via Tahiti to Hawaii, USA.

“We have been working with Mana (Tahiti telecommunications carrier) and OPT (Office des Postes et Telecommunication, Honotua operator) and we expect the Honotua to be fully operational, accommodating for the Billabong Pro, Tahiti’s internet demands like never before,” said Luciani.

The Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials features a nominal first place prize purse of xfp150, 00 (approx US$2,000), however, the real glory for the victor is knowing he has overcome an elite field of surfing outlaws to earn his wildcard into the Billabong Pro, Tahiti. And, of course, the satisfaction of knowing he has tamed the mighty Teahupo’o, albeit momentarily …

The Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trails waiting period is 16th – 19th August.

The Billabong Pro, Tahiti runs August 23rd – Sept 3rd, with just four full days of competition required to crown a champion.

Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials
2010 Official International Invitee field (updated Sunday Aug 15, 2010)

Jon Florence
Conan Hayes
Bruce Irons
Danny Fuller
Sion Miloski
Kamalei Alexander
Makua Rothman
Ian Walsh
Kalani Chapman
TJ Barron
Hank Gaskell
Clay Marzo

Dane Ward
Nathan Fletcher

Wade Goodall
Ryan Callinan
Laurie Towner
Nick Vasicek
Anthony Walsh
Damien Wills
Ryan Hipwood
Michael Hopkins
Dylan Longbottom

Alvaro Malpartida
Gabriel Villaran

Ricardo Do Santos

Puerto Rico
Alejandro Moreda

Takayuki Wakita

Benjamin Sanchis

New Zealand
Blair Stewart

South Africa
Dale Staples

Fergal Smith

Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials - Former Champions

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)

Nightriders Tow-At: where's the light, dude?

The 2nd Annual Nightriders Tow-At contest will be held in Ortley Beach, New Jersey, on August 20th, 2010.

The event, organized by New Jersey kingpin and contestant Sam Hammer, will also feature New Jersey surfers Andrew Gessler, Kevin Richards, Zack Humphries, Brendan Buckley, Matt Keenan, Randy Townsend, and Mike Gleason.

“Having the contest at night, and the beach packed with people, makes for a great stadium event to blast airs and just charge,” stated Sam Hammer, tow-at driver, contestant and contest organizer. “With $1,500 on the line, I know the crowd is going to be loud and guys are going to step up.”

The uniqueness of the setting and the talent organized for this special surf event will bring a great time to Seaside Heights, N.J. with thousands of people in attendance jockeying for a great seat.

“Supporting an event that brings the New Jersey surf community together is an easy decision,” said Billy Melnyk, senior brand manager of sponsor Seven Tiki Spiced Rum.

“The festival atmosphere and the energy surrounding the Nightriders will make this event memorable for years to come. It brings excitement to surfing in New Jersey”.

Name: Nightriders 2 Tow-At Surfing Event
Date: Friday, Aug. 20, 2010
Time: 9:00 p.m., ages 21+
Band: Burning Sun, Brick & Mortar
Contest Rules: 10-minute heats, unlimited waves, best score wins
Prize Purse: $1,500 First Place, winner takes all

Pico Alto, Peru: hey, have you got a magnifying glass?

The Billabong Pico Alto Invitacional 2010 will hit the waters of Punta Hermosa, in Peru, on the 19th August.

The organization is expecting up to six metres waves, as a huge swell is predicted to affect the Peruvian coastline.

The twelve best big wave surfers in the world will be arriving this week at Pico Alto. The defending champion Greg Long (USA), the reigning big wave world champion Carlos Burle (BRA), the winner of the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards Grant "Twiggy" Baker (SAF) and many others have confirmed to take part of this Big Wave World Tour stop.

Surfers will battle for glory and $10,000 prize money.

International Competitors

1) Anthony Tashnick
2) Carlos Burle
3) Chris Bertish
4) Dave Wassel
5) Diego Medina
6) Grant Baker
7) Greg Long
8) Mark Healey
9) Peter Mel
10) Ramón Navarro
11) Shane Desmond
12) Shane Dorian


1) Kalani Chapman
2) Ken Collins
3) Marcos Monteiro

Local Competitors

1) Álvaro Malpartida
2) Fernando Ortiz de Zevallos
3) Flavio Caporalli
4) Gabriel Villarán
5) Gonzalo Velasco
6) Javier Swayne
7) José “Jarita” Gómez
8) Kodiac Semsch
9) Rafael Velarde
10) Ricardo Peschiera
11) Roberto del Castillo
12) Sebastian de Romaña


1) Rafael Otero
2) Jaime Venegas
3) Mark Block
4) Ronald Raygada