TAHITI BY HERBIE FLETCHER

TAHITI

STORY BY HERBIE FLETCHER
PHOTOS BY HERBIE FLETCHER

Teahupoo is located on the southern tip of the island of Tahiti, one of the great wonders of the world. It’s an amazing shallow reef. The fresh water from all the tropical rain that runs out of the mountain into the ocean has cut a channel in the reef. The channel is so deep it doesn’t close out. Perfect left.

This wave is all about power and tube riding. To some, it’s how long you can ride on the foam ball that comes back up the face of the wave after it breaks. It’s great to watch the water stretch down off the reef as it sucks back up the face of the wave and throws back on the reef. If you eat it, and hit bottom, you’re hamburger or worse.

“Nathan Fletcher and Bruce Irons have both told me that ‘one wave can change your life.’ When you take off, you have to be fully committed and have lots of tube-riding skills.”

It’s great to watch these young wave warriors pushing each other. They’re fast, powerful, clean and stylish. I’ve watched these guys grow up, and I’m meeting all the young ones coming up.

I go each year to watch and take photos of the masters surfing before, during and after the Billabong Pro. For some, it’s perfect ego surf. These guys train and surf two or three times a day, to stay fit. They make it look so easy. When I arrived, it was nice in town by the airport, but as I drove south two miles from Chopes (Teahupoo), it started raining. Winter in the south. It rained for five days straight. Only at Chopes. Two miles north, it was sunny and warm.

I stayed next to a lily pond and as long as the water flowed, there weren’t any mosquitoes. At night, the white lilies opened up and during the day, the violet ones opened. It’s a beautiful place with the weather changing.

Behind the scene at night, I’d hang with Bruce Occy, Kalani and friends playing poker. Poker is pretty standard with nothing to do except surf and eat.

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