2 TAHITI SURFERS UP AGAINST WORLD’S BEST FOR TOP PRIZE

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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, April 29) – Manoa Drollet, one of Tahiti's top surfers, won the Air Tahiti Nui/Von Zipper Trials Sunday by defeating Australian Anthony Walsh in "a blockbuster final" at Tahiti's famous Teahupoo, Surfersvillage Global Surf News reported on its Internet Web site.

Drollet and Walsh won the two wild card slots qualifying them to enter the 6th Annual Billabong Pro Tahiti to be held between May 4-14. A third official wild card slot has already gone to Tahitian Hira Teriinatoofa, a veteran Billabong surfer who won a wild card entry last year.

This is the sixth straight year that at least one Tahitian surfer has won a wild card slot on the Billabong Pro Tahiti. Last year, Teriinatoofa was joined by fellow Tahitian Heiarii Williams. Teriinatoofa was awarded a wild card slot this year when Williams announced he would not be competing.

This year, Drollet, Walsh and Teriinatoofa will face the world's top 45 surfers in the main event for prize money totaling US$300,000.

Drollet scored a 9.6 out of 10 for his last wave of the day Sunday. Walsh had a perfect 10 ride and an 8.57 ride, which turned out to be not enough.

The trials resumed on Saturday after two days of small waves and no competition. There were eight surfers going into Saturday's quarterfinals - three Australians, two Tahitians, two Hawaiians and a Brazilian, Surfersvillage reported.

That set up a head-to-head meeting between Australian Koby Abberton and Teahupoo specialist and former trials winner Drollet in what was tipped to be the match-up of the trials event, Surfersvillage reported.

Abberton advanced to the quarterfinals with a score of 10.56, compared to 7.83 out of 20 for his opponents. Abberton won the Gotcha Pro World Qualifying Series Event at Teahupoo 10 years ago in huge waves.

Joining Abberton in the quarterfinals were fellow Aussies Walsh and David Scard. Walsh defeated Steven Pierson of Tahiti to reach the quarterfinals.

Opening ceremonies for the Billabong Pro Tahiti are scheduled to be held at Teahupoo on Tahiti's peninsula at noon on Thursday.

Australian surfers Taj Burrow and Mick Fanning will enter the event tied for the N° 1 ranking in the Foster's Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour. The waiting period for the Billabong Pro Tahiti begins on May 4, allowing organizers to wait for the biggest waves each day, as long as the competition ends no later than May 14.

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