Heaviest Teahupoo ever
After six miserable days of onshores of rain punctuated by just one sloppy, if solid, swell, cabin fever had set in around Teahupoo yesterday. The forecast for ‘best swell ever’ at Chopes had everyone on edge. Comp surfers were worried, the tow surfers were anxious and event organizers were doing their best to try and work out what the hell this swell was going to do.
Out on the reef in the morning the swell had definitely jumped and conditions were cleaner, but it was hard to tell much more than that. The media hut was abuzz. The Tahitian government ‘code red’ put the event on hold, but everyone was wondering if that would stop the tow surfers…
The answer soon became apparent as one by one wounded surfers came in on the back of the jet skis. Dean Morrison hobbled ashore with a broken ankle, legendary local Raimana came in battered and bruised claiming the surf was the heaviest he had ever seen it. It was all too much - I had to see this…
The media boats had sailed, so I grabbed my 5’7” and jumped into the rip gushing out through the reef pass. There was way more water moving around than normal and I was tossed about like a beach ball at a Brazilian rave. Rounding the reef the thunder of the wave gets louder. Salt spray filled the air from the impact of the heavy waves. It was almost hard to breathe.
Out in the channel I pulled up next to Josh Kerr, CJ Hobgood, Julian Wilson and Brett Simpson who had already secured front-row seats of the circus. Sitting deep in the channel gives you the best angle of the waves but means a scramble to get over the west bombs which sneak in, seemingly intent on taking crew down. Cheers from the peanut gallery let you know there is a set on the way.
Up the reef, Dylan Longbottom, Laurie Towner, Anthony Walsh, Dean Bowen, Bruce Irons, Dean Morrison, Koby Aberton and a few local heroes took turns on the bombs. The success rate was about 30%. Bruce got pumped on a bomb with such force his boardies were ripped off and he was washed in over the reef naked.
Dean drove the ski up to Julian asking if he wanted a whip-in. “I will just flick you into a nice small one” says Dean. Julian agreed. Ten minutes later a monster came rolling through with a surfer getting a high-speed tow from deep down the reef. Wait… It’s Julian… So much for a small one! He does a good job navigating his way into the sweet spot when the bottom of the wave completely drops out. The only thing touching the water is about three inches of the tail of his board and his trailing hand. Somehow he makes it through the heaviest part of the wave only to get munched on the inside there the wave meets the oncoming right. The spectators lose it.
The vibe in the lineup is amazing. Guys pop up from the heaviest slams with the biggest smiles on their faces. I don’t get it but it’s great viewing!
- Nick Gregory
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