With the amount of Jet Skis and testosterone buzzing around Teahupo’o during last week’s swell, you could’ve assembled a navy that would match Uruguay’s in any ocean-born conflict. The photos made it look like war — an army of crews fighting to gain the same blue territory. And while most of us struggle with getting an average wave at Lowers on a crowded day, we can hardly fathom how to safely squeeze one from last week’s motorized crowd in Tahiti. Peter Mel, the 2013 champ of Mav’s and your favorite webcast announcer, breaks down how to battle and when it’s time to wave the white flag. –Brendan Buckley
PETER MEL: Last week’s swell was somewhat chaotic and very dangerous at times. When a set would come in, everybody would stand up at the same time and sort of jockey for position. Whoever was in the best spot, depending on who they were, usually got the wave. There was no, “Hey, you go!” or any communication like that. It all boiled down to knowing who’s who and being able to make decisions based off of that.
Basically, the Tahitians had priority no matter what. They had full reign over whatever wave they wanted, and rightfully so. It seemed like the Hawaiians were next in line, then everyone else was kind of below that. You had to play a little bit of hardball to get waves but it was basically like how it works at any other surf spot. The locals are up first and if they want the wave, they’re going to end up with it. For example, if you’re going for a wave and a guy like Manoa Drollet is going for it too, and he’s not looking back to see if you’re going, you just know that you have to back out. It was known that that’s how it was going to work. I didn’t actually talk to anybody about it, but it seemed like it was just understood. The hierarchy is by virtue of who you are, where you live and how much time you’ve spent there. It’s just like surfing Pipeline or anywhere else, really. The fact that you’re towing in doesn’t really change the way things work.
For front-row seats to a duel between Chas Smith and Brendan Buckley, click here and watch them quarrel over Laird Hamilton’s recent crowd-bashing comments on TMZ.