The Razors Beneath the Wave at Teahupoo

The Razors Beneath the Wave at Teahupoo

If you’ve never been in tropical waters, surfing there might seem like the easiest, peasiest bit of play, but in


If you’ve never been in tropical waters, surfing there might seem like the easiest, peasiest bit of play, but in fact dropping in over a coral reef on even a small wave holds potential for getting seriously messed up, what with the X-acto-sharp coral, the high possibility of staph infection, and the distance from advanced medical care. (Just ask Keala Kennelly.) With the Billabong Pro Tahiti under way this week at Teahupoo, Billabong put together this little clip on the nasty nasty that lurks just under one of the world’s heaviest waves. It’s not as informative as one might like, but still — there’s some hairball footage of waves exploding and fish-eye’s view of that coral. Definitely worth your minute 22.

And if you want a real good look at what makes Chopes Chopes, check out Sean Collins’s excellent primer, The Mechanics of Teahupoo, at Surfline.

Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal.
Showing 3 comments
  • 6string
    Reply

    Never seen anything quite like that last ten seconds of footage. I thought that darkness was going to eat him. It looked hungry for his soul. I bet the word “Teahupoo” is Polynesian for “poop in your undies.”

  • bayst
    Reply

    It means the “place of the broken skull” or something to that effect…

  • Dan
    Reply

    Its not necessarily being able to ride a fast and giant wave that makes these feats so awe inspiring to me as are the conscequences and incredible skill of enduring and navigating a closeout or going over the falls. Many of the best waves in the world are over shallow reef made with live coral that is sharper than the uninitiated can appreciate. You may bleed when diced, but you will contract different microorganisms from the reef and grow an impressive infection and be left with exaggerated scars. I’ve scars on my toes especially, many on my arms, some on my head making little bald spots, but the most memorable is the huge one i have on the front of my right hip bone; a few inches over and … But surfing over a live shallow tropical reef gives you an amazing view and draws you below. BTW, Teahupo’o is named after the village connected to the reef pass the wave builds against, means something closer to bald or scraped head, and is prononced Te-a-hu-po-o.

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