Ricardo dos Santos: winner of the Air Tahiti Nui VonZipper Trials 2012

The 16 international invitees for the upcoming Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Trials have been announced.

The winner of the Trials will secure a wildcard seed direct into the Billabong Pro Tahiti 2013, held in the dangerous Teahupoo reef. A second position is open to the highest placed Tahitian surfer, amongst 16 local surfers.

Manoa Drollet, 35, is one of the most experienced Teahupo tube riders. He returns to competition following a long stint of rehabilitation for an injured leg.

"It's tough, everybody wants to surf Teahupoo. If it's small, then there is more luck involved. If it's big, then charging and commitment make the difference", says Drollet.

"Either way, it's always interesting because there is so many good surfers hoping to do well each year", he adds.

Brazilian Ricardo Dos Santos heads the list of internationals invitees. He played the role of giant killer last year, becoming the first surfer to win the Trials back-to-back.

He then went on to eliminate Kelly Slater from Round 3 of the main event, thanks to an incredible last-minute tube ride that had fans on the edge of their seats.

"I can take a lot of confidence knowing that I beat Kelly last year, he has the best competitive record of anyone in Tahiti. I'd love to win the whole event, but first things first, I need to do well in the trials", underlines Dos Santos.

"It doesn't matter if I have Kelly, or Parko or Manoa, my strategy will be the same – I'll be chasing the biggest, deepest barrels I can find".

The Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Trials window runs from August 10th–12th, with just one day of competition required to find a winner.

Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Trials 2013 International Invitees:

Ricardo Dos Santos (BRA)
Bruno Santos (BRA)
Manoa Drollet (Papara, Tahiti)
Laurie Towner (Yamba, NSW, AUS)
Nathan Hedge (Narrabeen, NSW, AUS)
Anthony Walsh (Lennox Head, NSW, AUS)
Jamie O'Brien (Sunset Beach, Oahu, HAW)
Bruce Irons (Kauai, HAW)
Danny Fuller (Kauai, HAW)
Ian Walsh (Maui, HAW)
Matt Bromley (Capetown, ZAF)
Alvaro Malpatida (Lima, PER)
Ben Sanchez (Hossegor, FRA)
Shinpei Horiguchi (Wakayama, JPN)
Yan Dakerbow (BRA)
Alex Gray (Ca. USA)

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