Surfing: Kiwi Billy Stairmand prepares to brave notorious Tahitian break in bid for Olympic glory

Billy Stairmand's set to represent New Zealand for the second time at the Olympics next year, when he lines up in the men's surfing competition.

Stairmand was in Tokyo in 2021 and while he says that experience is sure to help him, the intimidating venue of Tahiti means he's having to think outside the box, as he tries to ensure he's in the best possible shape for his bid for the podium.

"I'm really looking forward to the challenge and putting my best foot forward to try and win a medal for New Zealand," Stairmand told Newshub.

The 34-year-old finished ninth at the Tokyo Games and he hopes that experience will help in his second shot at Olympic glory.  

"It feels a lot more comfortable coming into this one, even though the waves are going to be totally different," he noted.

Different is an understatement.  

The surfing competition will take place in Tahiti - 15,000km away from host city Paris at a famed surf break named Teahupo'o, home to some of the world's biggest and most dangerous waves.

"It's big, its scary, it's a real shallow reef and it comes from the deep ocean," Stairmand explained. "I've never really surfed on that before."

Stairmand's working hard - both physically and mentally – to prepare himself for the challenge. He's well aware of how dangerous his sport can be.

Earlier this month, world No. 4 Joao Chinca was dragged to the beach unconscious, after coming off his board in Teahupo'o.

"It just shows that the best in the world can still get hurt out there," said Stairmand.

That makes this summer's national championships an important competition ahead of the Games in July.

They'll be held at Dunedin's St Clair beach, where Stairmand's eyeing up a ninth title.

"I'll be treating that as a warm-up competition. Obviously the waves won't be the same as Tahiti, but I'll be taking that pretty seriously." 

Before things get really serious, with Olympic gold on the line.