Every once in a while a new spot bursts into the surf world's psyche and totally redefines what is possible and where the limits are. Teahupoo has roared out of the deep blue and gobbled up all contenders snatching the belt and the crown for the 'World's Heaviest Wave'. Many surfers will remember their first glimpse of this freak of nature, most probably encapsulated by the infamous Laird Hamilton tow-in shots that graced the cover of many surf mags in 2000. What sets Teahupoo aside is the sheer power and ferocity of the incoming S swell that throws more out than up, once it reaches the overhead range. Maximum size is a moot point as it makes a mockery of most face measurements, containing a lip a few feet thick and a shape more rectangular than almond. More S in the swell will calm the beast slightly, but it is the straight on SW'ers that slam the reef and open up the caverns along the short 75-100m run for your life line-up. It's all about the drop really, which is more critical here than anywhere else and those able to set an early rail into the gasping tubes will do better. Mistakes are swiftly and properly punished as the highly visible reef runs close to dry so quickly, pushing the unlucky ones into the lagoon and the coral is famed for infecting cuts. When it's smaller and from the W, there is even the odd right, a la Backdoor, but dont get caught paddling back out. Teahupoo consistently pulls in more swell than anywhere on Tahiti, but getting the ideal NE wind is less common, especially in the high season.
Hazards like sharks, motorised traffic, the long paddle, crowds, localism and sunburn are nothing compared to the wave and the reef. There's a beachbreak at the rivermouth for the kids and it sometimes holds up a nice right wall for turns and airs, giving an opt out for most mortals that shouldn't really be attempting big Teahupoo.