Here’s a little known secret: “flat” Teahupo’o probably blows away the waves at your home break right now

posted by / News / May 7, 2006

For the second morning in a row, the second official day of the Billabong Pro Tahiti waiting period, you could have surfed a two-hour session with no one else but the tour’s most diligent dawn-patroller, Nathan Hedge and Rip Curl “pit boss” Matt Griggs. Sure, there were 10- to 15-minute waits in between sets and it was just a “mini-me” version of the ferocious lefthander, but the same waves would have attracted at least a dozen bodyboarders back in La Jolla – and that’s just the pre-dawn shift.

Nope, there’s nothing wrong with hollow, shoulder-high slingshots and even the “rogue” 3-footer that hits the reef proper and gives you just a taste of Tahiti magic. Add rows of towering, pyramid-shaped mountains shrouded in fluffy, sun-kissed cumulus, steady offshores brushing through the river valley and the world’s biggest aquarium beneath your feet, and it’s hard to ask for much more.

But the crazy thing about Tahiti is, you can ask for more – a whole lot more. That much is obvious from the crew’s clear lack of interest in the current conditions – even for the girls. When contest director Luke Egan and head judge Perry Hatchet pulled up this morning just as Hedgey squeezed through his “rogue,” they put the event on hold for the women. Egan, Hatchett and Layne Beachley deliberated for another 30 minutes, realized the consistency just wasn’t there for three-woman heats, and decided to call it off. “Now we can go surfing!” yelled rookie Jessie Miley Dyer as she jumped off the boat and joined us in the lineup. “I’m sick of standing around and waiting.”

She better get it while she can. This is officially the last year for the girls at Teahupo’o, to the disappointment of some and the relief of others. For the Rochelles and Kealas of the world, it’s the one spot where they can continue to prove they’re miles ahead of the pack in waves of consequence. Just look at Rochelle’s fearless backhand grabs over the past decade, Keala’s tow-in monster last year or the fact she’s nursing a seriously bruised vertebrae from charging too hard in Fiji this year. They’re the girls who stand to lose the most, but many of the others – including a couple who had a “sea snake” scare in the lineup yesterday — are doing everything they can to contain their glee. “We all freaked out,” said one of the victims of the ferocious, long, skinny, reef fish. “They kept hanging around our feet, like they were going to bite us.”

The girls had a celebration last night – a dinner and ceremony honoring their years here and skin left on the reef. So, it’s probably a good idea to give ‘em a day to recover so they can receive a true, proper Teahupo’o send-off.

As for the dudes, think short sessions at the little photo right called “Small Pass,” lots of card games, even more Hinanos and a cold rinse with the hose every half-hour or so. The mid-day heat and lack of surfing got so unbearable for Andy Irons that he and Kai Garcia left their rooms at Momy and Poppy’s and are now aboard the boat everyone’s talking about: the 140-foot, 17-cabin Haumana. Originally geared toward high-end divers and fishermen, it’s now broken into the surf-charter world thanks to local Raimana {{{Van}}} Bastolaer. Gourmet meals, five-star service, air-conditioning…it’s now anchored in the lagoon here at Teahupo’o, and all us sweaty land-dwellers are looking offshore with envy. Taylor Knox is in there, as are the Oakley team, and Kelly is due to arrive tomorrow or later as he knows the swell outlook isn’t looking good for the next few days and only marginally better later in the week.

Which is fine with this correspondent. A few more days of “flatness” certainly can’t do us any harm.

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