This weekend saw the Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Pro Trials run in 6-8ft Chopes, where two wildcard spots were awarded for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, beginning August 15. The wave proved its treacherous nature though, as Kevin Bourez (PYF), younger brother of ASP WCT No. 5 Michel Bourez and a favourite to win the event, fell victim to the beast as he was thrown head-first into the reef. Bourez then underwent four hours of surgery as a result of multiple head fractures and deep facial lacerations. Doctors have informed event organisers that Kevin is now in a stable condition.
Polynesian, Tuamata Puhetini secured a victory for the event, with Australian Nathan Hedge finishing second, earning them both wildcard spots for the Billabong Pro Tahiti with the top 34.
"My thoughts and prayers go out to the Bourez family," said Hedge, a former ASP WCT Top 10 surfer. "Kevin loves to charge, he’s an amazing kid and surfer and I’m wishing him a full recovery. May he return to the ocean some time soon."
Tuamata Puhetini who also wont the event in 2010 said: "The surf was fantastic today. I can’t believe I won it again, everyone was surfing very well. I won the Trials in 2010 and it was a great experience, and I’m looking forward to taking on the best guys out there in the Billabong Pro."
Injuries such as those sustained by Kevin Bourez raise further safety concerns at such a dangerous wave, where even highly skilled professionals can suffer dangerous wipeouts. It's little wonder why Teahupoo losely translates as: 'Place of Skulls.'
In the build up to the Tahiti Pro Matt Rott discusses the potential inclusion of helmets in surfing in Are Egos Getting in The Way of Safety?