VAST excursion: Teahupo'o

My girlfriend Devon and I started our trip on the main island of Tahiti where we first stayed with a family I had met online that hosts foreigners. We thought it would be cool to first see what local Tahitian lifestyle would be like, which turned out to be amazing. They were so kind and helpful in getting us around to chase waves. They set us up with her friends to show us around and take us down to Teahupo'o everyday! We even got taken to a family beach camp-out feast-thing, where we had all the amazing Tahitian dishes. Our favorite by far was the Poisson Cru, which consisted of sashimi, carrots, onions, cucumber soaked in lime and fresh pressed coconut cream, absolutely amazing. image4 We were meeting up with a buddy of mine, Ryan, who I had met on the big island of Hawaii who had moved to Tahiti to surf where he started a family. Ryan is a charger who doesn't miss many swells and spends a ton of time in the tube. He took us out at the reef of Teauhpoo and showed us the wave, where to be, where not to be, how to paddle out, how to paddle in, etc. I always wanted to surf that wave. I feel like everything that I've ever learned from riding waves had prepared me to surf Teauhpoo. It's a fascinating wave. The way it comes in, you can see the wave bending as it starts to draw off the reef. You can see literally how much wrap or west the thing has and put yourself deep enough accordingly. image2 I was worried at first for my girlfriend, Devon, to surf such a powerful and shallow wave as I didn't want her to get seriously hurt, which is a common thing when surfing waves of consequence. So for the first few sessions, she was just observing from the shoulder until one mid-morning, Raimana was out there who is sort of a legend there. He was yelling for Devon to come out to the peak, so you pretty much can't refuse this guy. She paddled up to him and moments after they met, a wave came in. It was a good looking four-footer and he cleared the way by yelling “GO! GO!” loudly Tahitian style, as he grabbed her feet and chucked her into this wave. I think she was surprised by his strong push and she ended up nose diving and getting completely worked. Well, that's all it took, was one wipeout and she’s back out there charging. I was super proud of her! For the first couple of weeks, we were surfing it at a relatively fun site, getting to know the wave and the reef and getting some amazing visions. Many of mornings, I'd dawn patrol and be the only person out for hours, just getting barreled of my head. In-between sets I'd look around at the cathedral-like mountains and lush valleys and pretty much was in heaven. Then, sure enough, we saw that first purple blob on the charts and Ryan was like, “oh shit bra, it's gonna be huge.” I immediately got an anxiety attack through the days leading up to the swell. The days got nearer and you could feel the anticipation building as the big wave chasers started to pour into town, still not knowing if this was gonna be a tow swell or a paddle (after the waves get over 15 foot backs, it gets too much to paddle). The night before the swell was hitting I barely slept. It literally sounded like cannons were being detonated all night... IMG_1204 I didn't get out there first thing, because I wanted to watch it first, but from land it was impossible to see cause the wave was sucking below sea level. All you could see that the lip of the wave grinding and the most powerful spit at the end I've ever seen. Eventually, I sacked up enough to paddle out and it was more crowded than usual. More boats, more cameras. I sat in awe while in the lineup for about an hour, just feeling the power of the ocean and these huge swells. I watched 16 year old Jack Robinson jump from the top of a 12 footer. I was looking straight down a three story face, watching Micheal Bourez paddle in. I guess he didn't make it and ended up getting smashed on the reef, breaking his hand and a vertebrae. Everybody was going nuts in the channel, screaming and yelling “GO! GO! GO!” and hooting when someone gets blown out of the tube of their lives. This is the stage where careers are made. Lives are glorified and dreams shatter. I ended up getting a few of the medium west bowl sets where the barrels were still as wide as rooms, but can honestly say on this first swell, I was timid. It wasn't till the second and third giant swell when I started to feel more confident and pulled into the barrels of my life. Even Devon was having a blast on the huge swells, chilling in the boats, having a few beers, watching the greatest show on earth. It's was mind boggling how close a spectator in a boat can get to a giant wave. The reef is just so perfect that the drivers knew just how close they can get to the wave without getting smashed. Add the chaos of ten more boats, all jockeying to get the best photo into the mix and you get pure mayhem. IMG_1154 So after a few weeks of all that awesome craziness, we went to some outer island spots where things are a bit slower, mellower, but still owning in their own unique beauty. We scored a ton of other waves, clocking hours of tube time. I swore an oath to my buddies I wouldn't give away their secrets, but they are out there. We were blessed enough to be there in that right place, when you see that lip starting to pitch over your head knowing you are in for an experience that few have felt. When asked if I would go back I said “FUCK YEA!”, I will go back, hopefully yearly. I almost wish I had a French passport so I could live there... Just wanna thank all the crew at VAST for helping the dreams and visions come to fruition... Maruru (thank you) - Jalian and Devon