Alan Riou wins Air TahitiNui VZ Trials and WCT wildcard
photo © aspworldtour.com
Air TahitiNui VZ Trials
Billabong Pro Tahiti
ASP Mens & Womens WCT
May 6-18, 2003
Local Tahitian Wins Trials; Main Event Set To Commence
Teahupoo, Tahiti (May 4th, 2003): Before a flotilla of boats packed with family and friends, local Tahitian junior surfer Alain Riou today defeated Hawaiian Conan Hayes to win the Air Tahiti Nui VZ Trials at the legendary Teahupoo reef. Along with third placed Hira Terinatoofa (Tah), the pair have now been awarded wildcards into the Billabong Pro Teahupoo - the 3rd event on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), World Championship Tour (WCT).
In a decreasing 1m swell, the break famous for its barrel rides failed to produce the goods in contrast to previous days, but provided rippable waves for the talented pair. Both surfers overcame nervous starts to find their highest scoring rides midway through the 25 minute final, bur 19-year-old Riou´s 7.10 point score - the highest of the final gave him the advantage. The Teahupoo surfer then backed with a 5.25 to take the lead from Hayes and claim his inaugural victory at his home break.
"I have never surfed Teahupoo that small before, it was bumpy as well," said Riou, who is a strong contender on the ASP Australasian Junior Circuit. "Competing in Australia has helped me heaps. Anything can happen at Teahupoo, so I am not worried about the top guys. Right now the feeling is unbelievable to win at home."
Hayes, who is renowned as a Teahupoo surfer was also awarded a wildcard into the 2002 Billabong Pro after qualifying through last years trials. The 27-year-old who was forced to compete with an injured knee last year finished equal 17th in the 2002 WCT event.
"I had two hundred people cheering against me out there so I am glad Alain won," joked Hayes after congratulating Riou. "I´m all good with the Tahitian people. We are both through to the main event and that what counts."
Terinatoofa was forced to compete against legend Tahitian surfer Vetea "Poto" David in a "surf off" for the third Billabong Pro wildcard after both finished equal third in the trials. The former Billabong Pro wildcard entrant also caused the elimination of yesterday´s standout Bruce Irons (Haw) in round four.
"I was scared because we both need it so it was very tough because the waves were inconsistent," said Terinatoofa. "For me it was the toughest of the whole contest. The one with Bruce (Irons) was also very hard."
Hawaii´s Keala Kennelly, who along with fellow Kauaian surfer Andy Irons is heading into the Billabong Pro Teahupoo Tahiti event as defending event champion, arrived fresh from her recent WCT win in Fiji. The 24-year-old is regarded as the one to beat at Teahupoo and is currently ranked equal first on the ASP world rankings with five-times world champion Layne Beachley (Aus).
"I´m stoked, last year I was tied for equal last heading into this event and now I´m tied for equal first. I´m definitely feeling a lot more confident," said Kennelly. "Teahupoo is my favorite break in the world. I always look forward to it.
"I think Kauai is pretty proud right now. I was so stoked when I heard Andy had won Bells. We used to win contests together when we were kids. He would always win the boys and I would win the girls. We were always sharing the winner´s podium, so to do it on the highest level is just a dream come true."
The waiting period for the Billabong Pro Teahupoo contest, featuring the world´s top 45 men and 17 women, is from May 6th through to the 18th. A new swell is predicted later in the week.
Internet users will be able to watch all the surfing action live from round one of the Billabong Pro Teahupoo Tahiti. Both the men’s and women’s WCT tournaments will be filmed from the all-important boat angle situated in the channel looking directly into the barrel. A stablising camera lens and a microwave system will create a spectacular webcasting experience from one of the world’s most remote surfing locations.
Simply log onto www.BillabongPro.com and enjoy the show.
Trials Warm-up Swell photos available here
# 1 : Billabong Pro WCT Tahiti prepares for Teahupoo event
# 2 : Billabong Pro Tahiti gets six meter waves for a warm up
# 3 : Irons/Kennelly to defend Billabong Pro Teahupoo titles
# 4 : Teahupoo surfing specialists compete for WCT Wildcard
# 5 : Billabong Pro Tahiti wct to be webcast live as of 6 May
# 6 : Teahupoo experts vie for wildcards in Air TahitiNui Trials
# 7 : Billabong legend to direct Billabong Pro Teahupoo Tahiti
# 8 : Bruce Irons claims best barrel at Air Tahiti Nui VZ Trials
Contact in Tahiti
Mandy Mckinnon – 0011 (6) 8925 7525
Contact in Australia
Blake Mckinnon – 0421 811 014
WCT-Contests - Surfersvillage