As you've probably seen, we went all-in on Teahupoo over May Day. And now that everyone's had some time to reflect and decompress, the consensus is that this was one for the books. Not historic like Code Red, but the energy and vibe in the water went next level. It was one of those days where multiple story-lines played out over those three days of wild and wide Tahitian power.
From 16-year-old Gilbert Teeve sending it on the deepest, most critical waves (and copping the wipeout of the session to boot); to Godfather of that chunk of reef, Raimana Von Bastolaer making his Chopes return; to our sniper-shooter Lea Hahn swimming the channel for six hours straight, to new mother and Teahupoo stalwart Frankie Harrer getting back amongst it – it's all gold.
Want to know when it's on? Teahupoo forecast, here
PRINCE OF TEAHUPOO MATAHI DROLLET KICKS OFF THE SESSION
It's crazy to think Matahi is only 24-years-old, yet it feels as if he's been a part of the lineup forever out there. On the Friday before this pulse really got going, Matahi packed a bomb. Then did the exact same thing the day after!
LEA'S LENS WAS LOCKED AND LOADED
Most of the time, Lea Hahn is the only female photographer slash videographer to shoot from the channel at Teahupoo. Born in Tahiti, Lea's fearless out there and has been documenting this swell and the last one, in fact, on behalf of MSW.
“The past few days were intense and just crazy,” she said. “The first big solid SSW swell of the year with waves of around six metres, paddle and tow bombs, hitting Tahiti.
“It felt good to get the adrenaline going and the energy of the waves, I really missed it.
“Standout moments of this swell, and the best surfers, were Mihimana Braye, Gilbert Teave and Tuatini Vanaa, who isa bodyboarder from Taapuna), the locals went both big and huge on back to back waves and well done to Lorenzo Avenenti who had a nice birthday present on May 1st with his tow in wave and Enrique Ariitu.
“It wasn't a Code Red swell but it's actually been my favourite 'cos the boys push their limits by paddling waves, and for me, that's more beautiful than tow.”
Lea added: “The less fun side for us as aquatic photographers is the increasing number of boats, the boats are way too close to the wave and end up in the middle of us, they clearly put the surfer and us, the water shooters, at risk. Something needs to be done before a fatal accident happens.”
THE NEW GUARD
Brother Bourez is probably one of the biggest names out of Tahiti – and he's a Chopes guy sometimes. But now, the young, new blood are taking over and already doing wild things out there. Here's a couple of selects from fellow young photo hand, Anuanua Lucas.
BOMB OF THE SESSION: RAIMANA VON BASTOLAER
He's back! Godfather of Teahupoo Raimana whipped into this absolute juggernaut of a wave. As electrifying as it is harrowing and though he made it out, it didn't stop him getting a bit of a pummelling after. “Yeah it was insane but the worst was on the inside after,” he told MSW. “I made it out but got sucked back and I ate two big white water waves, they came right at me. All ok though!”
ONE FOR THE VISITORS
Cam Richards and Balaram Stack were just a couple of the visiting chargers out there. “This place is incomparable to any place I've been before,” said Balaram. “Think it's my fourth trip down here and never have I seen such powerful and angry looking waves be so glassy and beautiful. This was by far the biggest I've ever seen it. The locals were absolutely murdering it. It's pretty amazing to see.”
THEN, THE WIPEOUT OF THE SESSION: GILBERT TEEVE
There were many tumbles and mis-timings, which is just what happens when Teahupoo goes off. But one of the most wince-inducing wipeouts was that of Gilbert Teeve here. It was s shame because prior to, Gilbert was in full send mode, consistently coming from deep behind the curtain at the end of the road, unafraid. We've checked in on him since: “Yeah, I am doing ok,” he said. “Out of the water for three weeks, I think.” Rest up well, Gilbert!
AND FINALLY, FRANKIE HARRER COMES HOME
Frankie Harrer made a name for herself by charging giganto Chopes from a very early age. And now, she's back, surfing on the Tuesday after the swell dipped a touch. "It was super fun," she told MSW. "Got a few smaller ones and spent a lot of time out there getting more comfortable and trying to get over being scared [laughs]. Definitely want to be out there more and push myself out of my comfort zone." We are sure glad she's back.