AUGUST 20TH - AUGUST 31ST 2011
Three words - World’s Heaviest Wave. A wave so absurd it looks like a distorted drawing by an ADD kid, yet the cartoonish soon turns to ghoulish when someone takes off on one of these things. Pure liquid evil, and so loud it deafens spectators in the channel. Breaks in to a pass on Tahiti Nui, a deep trench formed by waterfall and river drainage from the Volcanic cliffs of Tahiti Iti, the mountain which overlooks the break. Waves march across the exposed Pacific, without having time to hit the brakes before colliding with a mushroomed ledge of live coral.
A relatively-recent discovery by bodyboarder Mike Stewart and Hawaiian pals Buzzy Kerbox and Ronnie Burns in 1986. Too difficult to ride was the consensus. Stewart burnt it into his memory and returned a few years later. Surfing Life and Surfing sent teams to surf it in 1995 and the lid was lifted off this Pacific nuclear reactor.
It wasn’t until Gotcha had a contest here in 1998 - won by colourful Australian, Koby Abberton - that the world realised just how crazy the place was. It got even crazier three years later when Laird Hamilton towed into a sheet-glass 15x15’ cube, possibly the single most dramatic wave ridden by a surfer in history.
Within a year, brave locals, namely the now-deceased Malik Joyeux, started toying with the beast and regularly matching Laird’s feat.
Hira Terinatoofa, Vetea David, Raimana Van Bastolaer, Alain Riou, Nic Leetham, Manoa Drollet, Heimata Caroll, Michel Bourez, Tumata Puhetini, Teiva Joyeux.
Signpost sessions include those by; all the surfers listed above, Laird Hamilton, Koby Abberton, Irons bros, Hobgood bros, Lopez bros, Kelly Slater and Malik Joyeux.
Billabong. The Australian arm of the company - headed by the most popular administrator in surfing Bushy Mitchell - are aware of the local sensitivities and set up a completely demountable event which arrives wholly by cargo container.
Fishing, relaxing, hammock time, mental preparation, eat “poisson crue”, which is not the name of the local glam-metal act but a delicacy of raw fish and coconut milk.
Mosquitos, palm trees, waterfalls, and more than anything, the local people. If the Fijian locals want the tag of friendliest people in the world, then they’ll have to fight the Tahitians to get it.