THE 2003 BILLABONG PRO TEAHUPO’O DAY EIGHT

posted by / News / May 12, 2003

Surf: 5-foot and mushy (yeah right)
Events held: Nada
Nature’s call: Take a chill pill, buddy
Predicted: Rest up, boys–you’ll need itOK, so it’s not 12-foot just yet. But can you blame us for being optimistic? I mean, come on: this place is kudos squared. Each morning the little birds sing thanks from tree dens to your waking mind. Chewing a bit of baguette, you take a swill off the coffee and swagger down by the water to have a look. Who knows; this could be the day of your life. Then, of course, the swagger thing is strictly optional considering the kind of “day of your life” you’re picturing. For these guys, the world’s best surfers, that’s not something so easily defined. “What’s up, how is it today?” is what I’ve asked them for the last three mornings.”Uh, (yawn) could be around 8 to 10 feet,” will come the interchangeable response. Do you have any idea what a 10-foot wave looks like at Teahupo’o? I don’t. What I do have is a new appreciation for pro surfers. They’ll call this place the meanest wave in the world with one breath, and then take off under the lip the next. Here’s an example:Two nights ago the surf was fantasy. Seriously, you wouldn’t have been surprised to be dumped directly to the bedroom floor after any misjudged highline. It was that good. All of the heroes were out — Kelly, Dozza (Dorian) — the whole lot. Now, I used to think the “hero” call was a bit overdone, saying things like, “They’re just surfers, what’s so heroic about that?”After this session, with pride swallowed, I found the answer is nothing — that is, unless you’re a surfer searching for the better way out of a deathtrap barrel. It’s surprising we don’t pay these dudes taxes, because with every line-driving leap they take, form advancements trickle down in small increments to every beach around the world.

Anyway, back to that example. Shane Dorian was way too deep. Teahupo’o is a tricky wave because there are two optimal takeoff spots. From the right vantage point, you’ll see the reef as an extended A formation. The Wave breaks right where it comes to a point. Some waves will come from the south and peel down the reef like a left point. These waves are fast but also the easiest to make. That is–compared to waves that come from the west. These break next to the channel and push south. Shane’s wave was a mix of both. He really looked to be scratching over it like everyone else. This happens all the time at Teahupo’o because it’s a barrier reef surrounded by deep water of at least 60 feet. The biggest waves will come out of nowhere, leaving the crowd awash in splashing hands and kicking feet. Shane’s paddle was strong but not hurried. Waiting for the last bodies to crest the wave, it happened. As if on a whim, he turned his head enough for his board to follow until hanging helpless in the pitching lip. When he pushed to his feet, it was amazing the steadiness in his forearms; and, with what control he took hold of the inside rail of his smooth, yellow John Carper semi gun. A second later, he was gone. The sound it made was black and thunderous. Some more seconds after that came the groans.”Dude, that wave was such a trap,” said Tamayo Perry sharing what he saw paddling from the corner.Then he started paddling faster. Three more waves showed signs of copying Shane-O’s. Tamayo pushed his way to the middle of the pack to see who would back off. You don’t see many drop-ins out at Teahupo’o; you’re either going or your not. Finding a window, the long-haired Hauula boy let out a warning shout as he kicked and paddled; his eyes full with madness. The wave stood straight up in the same way you’d hear Suge Knight say, “We gonna jack this fool, straight up.” Down the slick, weightless face I could see the churning water inside being summoned as if by a ferocious roiling net. Tamayo pushed into a bracing bottom turn and passed from sight. 10-feet forward of his track was Dorian’s board, tombstoning. The wave made that same demolition noise just as he burst to the surface. Laughing. And they say we’re waiting for it to get big?– Hagan Kelley

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