Locals Only As Teahupoo Dazzles

Jason Lock

by on

Updated 16d ago

We love seeing Teahupoo rumble. But let's not forget it can become a navigational nightmare. And there's no one who can quite weather that storm than the hardy local crew. As this stunning gallery attests, the Tahitians will sit deeper, go harder and stand taller than anyone else out there.

A little over a week ago, a blip cropped up on the swell chart. And while the world's best surfers were on the other side of the world post-wave tub competition, it was time for the local crew to take full swing on their home turf.

Spot guide: Teahupoo

Capturing all you see throughout is west Oz lensman Tom Pearsall. It's no secret we're fans of Tom's work (see HERE) – and when these images of Chopes landed in our inbox, it sent a few ripples around MSW HQ. Matahi Drollet standing, so causally, so nonchalant as that liquid fervour erupts behind him.

Again, Mr Drollet (aka the prince of Teahupoo) scrambling near vertically over a wide set. It is a true heart in mouth moment, you can feel the tension as he makes it over that hulking wave. The encapsulation of risk vs reward at one of the world's heaviest locales.

Matahi, near verticle.

Matahi, near verticle.

© 2019 - Driftwood Photography

“Myself, West oz surfer Luke Saranah and his girlfriend Sis Neubert, another photographer/videographer Kyle Bowman and my girlfriend Amalie Hemmingsen, arrived from WA three weeks before this hit,” says Tom, who is running a highly double-tappable Instagram account at Driftwood Photography.

“The Tahitian hospitality is famous and we had a lot of fun but we all craved that day where Teahupo'o really woke up. Luke and Cilia had to get back to work and bid us farewell and then a week out, a blob appeared for our last day. 

Mateia Hiquily.

Mateia Hiquily.

© 2019 - Driftwood Photography

“Well, then the worst happened. I couldn't believe it, the day after we'd seen the swell was coming, a bone crushing fever hit me like a ton of bricks. Dengue Fever. Fair to say I was feeling pretty sorry for myself but the day came around and, buoyed by local photographer Dom Mosqueira, Kyle, Amalie and Canadian photographer Sean Havas, I got my gear together praying this swell provided more than the first one.

“We arrived in the lineup to see solid 8-10ft sets with the odd bomb pushing 12ft and although there was ten surfers already in the lineup, there was only a couple of locals who really wanted the sets.

“We settled into the channel as the sun beamed from behind the mountains and the rest of the local lads started to arrive. The show had begun.

Jesse James Johnson.

Jesse James Johnson.

© 2019 - Driftwood Photography

“The surf culture in Tahiti is second to none and many lineups of the world could take a leaf out of their book. Teahupo'o must be one of the most sort after "destination waves" and the locals are still so incredibly welcoming, displaying a respect you can't help but return. When it gets big their encouragement and bravado steps up to another level, hooting and screaming each other deeper and later into a wave that seems to defy physics at times.

“Standouts in the line up were; Matahi Drollet, Tikanui Smith, Mateia Hiquily, Teiki Charles, Arenui Parker, Enrique Aritu, Ruarii Atani, Eimeo Czermak and Jesse James Johnson.”

And we think you'll agree that the images from that session are jaw droppingly good. Enjoy.

 Teiki Charles.

Teiki Charles.

© 2019 - Driftwood Photography

Tavaitoa David.

Tavaitoa David.

© 2019 - Driftwood Photography