Air Tahiti Nui Von Zipper Trials:
Saturday 28th April 2007 (Teahupoo, Tahiti): EIGHT surfers remain in contention for prestigious Billabong Pro Tahiti wildcards following a tense day of surfing at the Air Tahiti Nui Von Zipper trials at Teahupoo.
In solid 2-2.5m waves, three Australians, two Tahitians two Hawaiians and a Brazilian will be left to contest the man on man quarter finals which are set to be held in booming 3-4m waves tomorrow.
Australian heavy hitter Koby Abberton (Maroubra) will square off against former trials winner and Teahupoo specialist Manoa Drollet (Tah) in what is tipped to be the match up of the trials event.
Abberton won through his top seeded round four heat before booking a spot in the Quarters with a man on man victory over Tahitian Heimata Pollock in round five.
A low scoring heat saw the Sydney natural footer win 10.56 to his opponents 7.83 out of 20.00
"I don’t mind who I have got because if I get the waves I can win," said Abberton. "It’s going to be big tomorrow, so I’m ready for Manoa, any day."
The trials event attracts the cream of the crop of big wave chargers from around the world and also gives local Tahitians the chance to shoot it out with the world’s top 45 surfers when the Billabong Pro Tahiti begins on May 4.
First and second in the trials will face the two top seeds on the world tour, Kelly Slater and Andy Irons on round one of the main event.
"The world tour guys are more worried about the wildcards coming in than anything else," said Abberton. "I mean, despite your Andy’s and Kelly’s, Bruce’s (Irons) and the Hobgood's, they would be more worried about the wildcards I would say."
Abberton won the Gotcha Pro World Qualifying Series Event (WQS) at Teahupoo 10 years ago in huge waves and is comfortable dealing with what the beast of a wave can often dish up.
"When you put it like that it was such a long time ago,” said Abberton. "To win the trials or even make the main event would be unreal."
"I only like to surf Teahupoo when it is really big, I mean, today is good fun but I come here to surf it massive."
"All reports are saying it is going to get massive, so I’m looking forward to it."
Joining Bra Boy Abberton in the Quarter Finals will be fellow Aussies Anthony Walsh (Lennox Head) and David Scard (Sunshine Coast).
Walsh comprehensively defeated local trialist Steven Pierson 14.33 to 10.00 and will come up against dangerous goofy footer Fabrice Galez (Fra) in the Quarter’s.
"I’ve got through one more heat than I did last year and the year before that, so I’m doing well," said Walsh. "I need to just focus now, it’s only two more heats to get through and I’m there, getting a wildcard into the main event."
Scard, a respected tube rider who spends six months of his year in Indonesia while running a surf travel company will face off against Hawaiian Danny Fuller in his first ever Trials event. Last week was actually the first time Scard had ever surfed Teahupoo.
Hawaiians ran hot in the tube of Teahupoo today, dominating the dredging line-up with Mark Healy taking down defending trials champion Heiarii Williams while Fuller also comfortably took out local Niuhi Marere.
Healy was unstoppable in the barrel despite facing the draws toughest opponent.
He locked in a near perfect 9.00 ride to secure victory 17.40 to 16.10 and create the day’s biggest upset elimination.
"I’ve been free surfing out here with him (Williams) for years and even just the last few days," said Healy. "He just knows this place so well, but there was a lot of waves in that heat so it was insane, we just got to surf."
"It’s strange but the more I surf Teahupoo, the less confident I get," he said. "In the last year or so I have ate it, and taken some of the beatings of my life towing in here."
"I have a lot of respect for this place."
It is realistically possible for both Healy and Fuller to secure main event wildcards, as they are located on separate sides of the
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