Justine Dupont and Lucas 'Chumbo' Chianca score big waves at Teahupo’o
Raging waters challenge the best of the best on the infamous French-Polynesian reef break in a summer session for the history books!
August 13, 2021, in Tahiti, will go down in the surfing annals as a landmark day in big wave surfing. More specifically, big tube riding. While we’ve long marvelled over the Jaws days, the Nazaré super sessions, the occasional Mavericks monster swell, the weekend’s antics at Teahupo’o have taken the art of barrel riding to another level.
While Thursday and Saturday provided perfect pushing-the-envelope conditions for paddling, on that Friday, there was no other option than to grab the rope and let your tow partner whip you into waves that could have delivered either the best or worst ride of your life.
Kauli Vaast nearly achieved both at the same time, when he attempted to tame a wave that was too big to sustain itself, and while he sat in the perfect position in the pocket a few swimming pools’ worth of water in the lip above him finally gave way under its own weight, and crushed him into the reef. According to Ryan Moss, who filmed the jaw-dropping edit above, not only did Kauli get crushed, but so did the seafloor he hit, and while his wetsuit was full of fractured bits of reef after, the actual impact wasn’t all that bad, and he lived to tell the tale with a smile.
Perennial standout Nathan Florence flew from Hawaii to Tahiti for the swell with Moss and was happy to narrate the edit for us while still high on the adrenalin of a successful mission. Not only did he capture a plethora of paddle and tow behemoths, but he also snared one of the most insane angles of Teahupo’o you’ll ever see with his GoPro, as he gunned along at sea level in front of a huge breaking set wave on a jet ski. Multi-talented humans, these Florences.
Also flying in for starring roles were Brazilian maniac Lucas 'Chumbo' Chianca, who ruled the paddle and the tow day, and French wonder woman Justine Dupont, who in her first-ever visit to the spot known affectionately as The End Of The Road, put on a best-ever performance to further cement her status as the best female big wave surfer in the world.
Long-time Tahitian ruler Raimana Van Bastolaer got his deserved red carpet treatment to snare his deserved share of the bombs for the home team. At the same time, usual suspects like Heiarii Williams, Eimeo Czermak, Haumana O’Connor, Lorenzo Avvenenti, Tereva David and O’Neill Massin flew the flag proudly.
The climax of an incredible day came right on dark as young Tahitian superstar Matahi Drollet, who, according to Nate "waited literally seven hours" out the back hoping for a bomb, had his prayers answered like never before. After letting go of the rope, Matahi picked the perfect line to thread a 30-foot tube, the likes of which the world has never seen made before. As he was thrown into the channel in a firehose of spray, the crowd could only erupt, knowing they’d just seen history made on surfing’s greatest Black Friday ever. Hit play at the top of the page to savour the fruits of Moss's incredible labour now. Enjoy.