This week, the Billabong Pro Tahiti published a video montage of the top ASP World Tour surfers recommending what NOT to do while surfing Teahupo’o; however, they forgot to mention flying punches. Maybe that’s why a fight broke out during the trials between Hawaiian athlete Jamie O’Brien and Brazilian charger Ricardo dos Santos. Neither was given a wildcard spot into the event, but at least there was a hand shake to mend the wounds. The social media outrage may not be so easily calmed…
“Jamie O’Brien was in pursuit of measly 3-point ride as the clock struck :30. A wave — an opportunity — arose and Ricardo dos Santos was having none of it. He too needed a score. [They] paddled-battled, with Ricardo getting the deeper end of the stick. Both surfers caught the wave and stood up and Jamie, in a bout of frustration, punched Ricardo in the face.”
In an interview with Stab Magazine, Jamie O’Brien claimed that he was deeper than Ricardo and had positioning:
“The real story is, he paddled straight into me and hit me with an overhand head check. And then he followed up with an elbow to the head. So, when I took off on the wave, I already knew I was burning him, which is no problem. Then I slapped him on the wave… I didn’t punch him on the wave… I slapped him. So we both fell on the wave. And he came chasing after me. He threw the first punch…We’re men, and these things happen.”
Neither surfer walked away with the wildcard. Heiarii Williams (PYF) finished first and Poulou Jocelyn (PYF) soared to second in the heat to move on. Local Alain Riou (PYF) and Anthony Walsh (AUS) were the golden ticket winners, finishing first and second respectively in the Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Trials at Teahupo’o.
According to Surfing Magazine, Jamie later apologized, both personally and publicly, and Ricardo graciously accepted.
“I shook hands, everything was cool, but he asked me to put my head down when I shook the hand, and I was disappointed with the, like, “Jamie O’Brien bowing down to me” thing [photo above]. I went back and apologized and did the right thing…” JOB stated.
The storm of social media rampage has been brutal on both sides. The “Tahitian punch” has escalated into a heated battle much bigger than just between the two surfers. We hope that fans of the athletes can see that since neither will be able to compete for the championship, this is just one more thing not to do while surfing Teahupo’o.