Gordo @ ASP / Robbo
Doesn't that sound like a dream you could have had a thousand times? This weekend, as surfline had been announcing a swell like never before, the dream came true for many surf enthusiasts in Teahupo'o.
There had been electricity in the air for days now,with the hype around the coming swell, everyone checking surfline more than regularly to know when it was going to hit Teahupo'o, making calls to make sure that one could get on a boat . To add to the excitement, the 15 to 25 ft waves were going to hit the world famous spot during the Billabong pro contest.
This days was promising to be incredible, a day to remember in surfing history. The mythical wave of Teahupo'o is renown to be a deadly barrel is not only impressive but can also be plain scary, and that's on normal days...so imagine on a day like that!
Everyone wanted to be there to witness history, to witness never seen before surfing. The week before the swell hit Tahiti, surfers and photographers who weren't already here for the comp started flying in.
@ASP / Kristin
The night before, tension was at its peak, so many emotions could be felt, from anticipation, fear, excitement...The authorities had issued a code red on the entire coastline banning all water crafts from entering the water, an obvious cause for uproar in Teahupo'o as one of the captains told me the night before "I'd like to see them try to stop us from going out there tomorrow". No way that big wave specialists such as Bruce Irons or Koby Abberton were not going to stay onshore looking at the waves breaking on the spot....and no way that photographers and surf aficionados weren't going to follow!
During the night, you could hear the waves breaking on the beach, the roar of the ocean preparing for an epic day, the sound was both exciting and terrifying, getting louder as the waves were getting bigger. A call of the sirens for some, the laugh of the devil for others.
On Saturday morning, the whole of the surfing community, along with half the population of Tahiti were in the small town of Teahupo'o at the end of the road. The waves were battering the beach at the point, going up into people's gardens. The comp had been called off, as paddling in such conditions was simply not possible.
Tow-in crews were watching the waves while photographers, film crews and onlookers (the brave one, the crazy ones, the surf fanatics) were desperately trying to argue or buy their way to the spot. The atmosphere was eery, almost unreal. A mixe, respect and frustration (that last one from those same people who couldn't find a boat.
A lot of disappointment as Kelly Slater did not take any wave this day @ Tim Mckenna
Finally, the surfers went out and those who were lucky enough to get a captain to take them on their boat were lined up on the spot, watching....and en epic day began. Hundreds of people out there, surfers, boats, jet skis, kayaks, paddle boards, it was mayhem, a disaster waiting to happen in such crazy conditions...but thankfully everything went smoothly in spite of a few scares for those who weren't paying attention to the west peak.
Keala Kenelly catching a ride to the spot @ Audrey Bodilis
Injuries were sustained from bruises, to dislocated knees...but surprisingly nothing too serious, unless you account for Bruce Irons' shorts which were ripped off when a wave blasted him. enjoy ladies!
This could well be the most magical day for many and it will most certainly be remembered as a day not to be forgotten. Surfer will most definitely not forget the waves they rode this day and spectators will long remember the sets they were lucky enough to witness. For others, the ones who where stuck onshore, it will be the frustration of not having been able to be out there of having waited years for this day to come and not be able to see it other than on their computer screens.
Obviously, as I was stuck onshore, I thought I'd get a few shots of the beautiful surroundings on Teahupo'o's to share with you a bit of the beauties of Teahupo'o