Photos by Ed Sloane
Teahupo’o is one wave I never want to surf in my life, especially in front of a webcast of millions, a channel of peers and a tower of judges.
Mitch Crews as a World Tour rookie is facing that exact situation in Tahiti this week as the Billabong Pro Teahupo’o kicks off tonight. We asked the first timer to spend a few days there and get back to us with 10 things he hates about it. Enjoy. We did.
It’s a left
I’m a left foot forward guy, and on a heavy, intimidating as fuck wave like Teahupoo I’d much prefer to be paddling into the wave frontside.
The West Bowl
My first experiences of this West bowl thing have been horrible. During the first session after my first wave I kicked out thinking I was cruising in the channel in a reasonably safe zone. I was stroking back out to the lineup with no real rush to get back out there when all of a sudden all the ocean stood up in front of me and apexed, which then detonated right on my head and blew me onto the reef. Was hardly out there for 15 minutes.
Being on a boat
It’s nice to think that after a heavy session after a few beatings and possibly the wave of your life you would like to end up on dry land with your pals all safe and sound slandering at each other about the waves you had. But here at Chopes you paddle back to the boat climb in. You are rocking around, bouncing, knocking shit over, getting in all the photographers way when your getting changed and still feel uncomfortable with the boat lingering dangerously close to the lineup. Which also leads into my next…
The people on the boats
All the people that are not surfing are all people from the surf world that will judge the absolute shit out of you for everything you do. So if you kook it, you’re a kook. if you charge, you’re the man etc. etc. Basically, you can’t fuck up and look like a fool because everyone will laugh at you. So for someone like me, a first-timer with little confidence, it’s crucial I select waves that I can get drained easily inside my comfort zone and build from there. Then hopefully not look like a peanut in front of everyone.
You would hope to think that with Chopes being scary and heavy, there would have to be some sort of loophole to make it a little more friendly, like the reef not being too sharp. Wrong…. no loophole…. the reef is sharp as hell you just brush it and you’re done. Pissing blood and lime in your cuts.
Getting washed into the lagoon
The lagoon is the water before the reef. Once a wave has dragged you over the reef you fall into the safety zone of “The Lagoon”. Even though its safe and seems something that you would not hate, it’s more the demoralising fact that you have ended up in The Lagoon. Someone then needs to come get you on the ski, make a big deal out of it that you just got smoked hard in front of everyone from #4. It happened to me twice today.
The wave jacks up so quick, you basically need to be at the bottom of the wave paddling as hard as you can so by the time you get to your feet you’re at the top sliding into the wave and then setting your line to make the tube. If this process is not completed correctly, you’re fucked.
I’ve experienced Teahupoo the past few days around 6-8 feet solid. It’s been scaring the shit out of me. It’s looking like for Monday during the event waiting period it’s going to be 10-12 feet. Yay.
The deceptive nature of the place
It’s a gorgeous place. The water is blue, clear and warm, amazing sunsets that nestle behind the monstrous green mountains that tower over the sleepy small town of Teahupoo. How can a place so beautiful have such an evil wave here that just wants to pound small helpless rookies like me.
Watching John John Florence surf Teahupo’o
He makes it look stupidly easily no matter how big or small the wave is. He is the man out there, rules the lineup and makes everyone look silly. He is the man, and most of us are not.