Earlier today, Stab reported that there’d been an altercation of the physical kind during a heat in the Billabong Pro, Tahiti trials. Jamie O’Brien and Ricardo Dos Santos both needed a score with very little time remaining, and a wave presented itself. Early reports suggested that after a furious paddle battle, Ricardo took off on the inside, Jamie got annoyed, and took a swing. But according to Jamie, that ain’t exactly right.
“The funny part is that no one’s actually asked for my side of the story,” says Jamie. “They’ve all just seen a weak manoeuvre by (Ricardo) posting it on social media, which is when it took off.” Jamie’s referring to Ricardo’s immediate post on Instagram, which read: “Thanks, Jamie O’Brien, for punching me in the face during my heat in the trials.”
Social media being the digital snowball that it is, Ricardo’s claim quickly became the accepted story. But Jamie says it ain’t the real one.
“I was deeper than him and I had positioning,” says Jamie. “And 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.”
While this is contradictory to Ricardo’s claim that Jamie punched him, Jamie is resolute.
“No, I didn’t punch him on the wave,” repeats Jamie. “I slapped him. So we both fell on the wave. And he came chasing after me. He threw the first punch. And y’know, he threw a coupla punches, and I threw a coupla punches, and that was the result of it. It was not a big deal. Yeah, we’re men, and these things happen.”
And that might’ve been it. But – and this is where it gets sticky – Jamie says that Ricardo turned the situation into something it wasn’t. “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. I went back and apologised and did the right thing, but hey, he did wrong too, I wasn’t the only one. I’m not an asshole and that’s not what I was pushing for. But it took off on social media.”
Jamie again raises social media because Ricardo’s second post, featuring an image of the handshake (above), also came with a misconstrued message. “After the episode, @whoisjob, came to say sorry and make sure that will never happen again,” wrote Ricardo. “For the brazilian people I told him to put his head down and be humble as a normal human! Brazil, we got dignity back!”
Yup, it’s that last part that ain’t such a hit. Says Jamie: “It’s between Ricardo and I, and Ricardo made it between Brazil and I. It’s a real coward thing to do. It’s between me and Ricardo.”
All social media posts from Jamie and Ricardo have since been removed. Neither men scooped golden tickets, with Alan Riou winning the trials and Anthony Walsh placing second.