It is so freakin’ good to be back! A world away from gloom ass SoCal, it blows me away that Tahiti is a mere seven-hour flight from LAX. I made the hour drive down to Teahupo‘o from the airport and slid into a nice sleep despite the snoring of Dylan Longbottom and TransWorld SURF ace photog Brian Bielmann (who bounced over to Moorea with Bruce Irons and Kamalei Alexander…apparently they scored, too). Upon waking up I had a quick cup of coffee with Papi Maoni (a legend of a man) jogged down the road, over the bridge, and onto the point in hopes of scoring a ride out to the pass. One of the guys from Billabong was there and within a few minutes I was staring at gaping four foot barrels with just a few dudes out. While it wasn’t big by any means, the power of the wave is there at any size. The early morning crew consisted of Dusty Payne, Joel Parkinson, Occy, Anthony Walsh, and some riff raff like myself.
Currently ranked #1 in the world, Parko is looking sharp and relaxed. He’s here without his family, solely focused on riding the barrel backside. And my God can that guy paddle. Sitting a bit out of position, he’d kick and windmill those long arms into just about any wave. While you don’t normally associate Parko with Teahupo‘o (he’s more known for his act at Kirra/Jbay/Snapper) he is a contender in my eyes. Anthony Walsh was on fire as well. After getting third in the trials for “like the fourth year in a row,” he’s a little bummed but eyeing the big swell headed this way. “I just want it to get too big for the contest,” he added. “If I get a few waves during the swell I’ll be fine.”
After an hour or so most of the pros paddled in, leaving me, Walshy, and one of the ASP judges. We figured that the pros have no vested interest in flawless, four-foot Chopes. They’re not going to get cover shots out there, and they’d be screwed if they broke their best boards, or worse, got injured. So yeah, there was a small handful of us surfing one of the best lefts on the planet right smack in the middle of a World Tour event. I love this place!—Justin Coté
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