Beauty in the Beast
Teahupo’o June 11, 2009
By Tim Bonython.
God, it’s been a busy period over the last couple of months. Our winter down here has served us well. Well, most of the time. A Kirra swell, the Quiky Pro, Bells at Easter then Avalon at home plus classic OURS, Cape Solander with 7 time World Champ Layne Beachley then off to get skunked in Tassy looking for the points to fire. Up to the Noosa for a late season swell there and then I am watching the news & weather on the box when out of the corner of my eye on the synoptic map I see a very vigorous low pressure system pushing into the east coast of New Zealand. So within minutes I am on the computer scanning the charts to see three swells back to back pushing swell after swell towards the worlds most decorated modern day surf break called Teahupo’o.
Within minutes I ring around surfers & marketing directors wondering where their surfers are or going.
Some are already their & some are booked & going. And so am I.
It’s been awhile since going to Choppes but I am booked on an Air Tahiti Nui flight via New Zealand to Tahiti with the great surf photog Ted Grambeau.
On the flight there is Laurie Towner & Dylan Longbottom and we are pumped.
Having arrived in Papette we pick up our gear except Laurie & Dylan had their boards left behind in New Zealand. They have to wait till 4 am for them to arrive.
Ted & I drive straight down to the end of the road in Teahupo’o at 12.30 am & off to sleep.
Up early around 6 am we meet Manoa’s dad Bjarn at the Teahupo’o marina, the boat is ready & we are out there.
The sun is up, it’s a clear beautiful Tahitian morning & the surf is pumping.
Although we do get the low down on how good it was the day before.
Great Aussie surf photographer Tim Jones was frothing! What the heck, we are here & its action stations. Plus there’s another swell tomorrow.
Within minutes Laurie pulls into the wave of the day – little did we know that it was going to be the wave of the trip. The wave starts at around 6 feet but grows to an eight foot bomb as Laurie sets his line and leans back to show us his poise & style as its pours out its energy above him. Manoa’s dad parks us in the perfect spot to capture the shot.
Later Laird Hamilton & Raimana Von Bastolear skim across the water on their stand up paddle boards & skillfully catches the better waves and instead of trimming they were stalling for the pit. Raimana with all his experience gets barreled each time. Hamilton pulls into big slabs & gets slammed. This all captured for an IMAX crew that includes helicopters buzzing over us to get the shots.
Meanwhile the body boarders, World Champ Ben Player, Mitch Rawlins & Hawaiian Jeff Hubbard show why those three are the best in the business, especially in waves like that. The swell maintains, as does the weather for day 1.
Day 2 & we are up early once again. Ted & I pull in to the local village shop to gather the food supplies. Baguettes, cheese, water & cookies are the order of the day for survival.
We meet Manoa’s dad once again at 6.30 on another perfect morning at the marina.
Ted & I are looking for signs that it’s bigger but cannot see much. Without saying anything we just hope that by the time we get out there, there will be bombs & the tow session will begin. But to our disappointment the waves are messy and not big.
We sit and watch patiently knowing that its gotta pick up sooner than later. After watching for a couple hours & with no real talent to shoot, we head back to land.
Its around 12.30 pm & it looks like the wind has swung around offshore to the east & we detect there bombs to be documented.
On our second arrival our confidence is sky high as there are some good 6 to 8 footers perfectly running down the reef. It’s ON! Manoa is out there as is Riamana & Laird. Michel Bourez arrives with his quiver & his gorgeous lady. Body boarder Mitch Rawlins pulls into a 10 foot face & disappears behind the cavernous curtain & gets spat out before the closeout. Raimana drops down a bomb with everyone hooting & scores what would be a 10 out of 10 wave.
Michel is now out there and takes no time to get pitted.
The session goes all day almost till dark with the ocean pouring out the goods. The only negative is ‘where is that predicated swell’? The jet skis sat there, all tied up in a pack ready be put into action but it was never to be on that day or that swell.