A HOL­I­DAY AT TEAHUPOO

Tracks - - Stuff We Dig -

Now here's a dan­ger­ous idea. Fly into Tahiti's Faa'a air­port, col­lect your board bag and head for the vil­lage at the end of the road. Teahupoo means "scraped head" in the lo­cal lingo but you know that al­ready. You are head­ing to­wards the most dan­ger­ous wave in the world, a known killer. It's crossed your mind sev­eral thou­sand times since you left home. You've im­bibed all the pho­tos and all the films: Laird's Mil­len­nium wave, Andy's air­drop, Do­rian's XXL beast, Nathan Fletcher's black hole. Chopes lurks in your night­mares as a man-eater and yet you've come any­way. You're here for a hol­i­day and here's what you find: par­adise. Tahiti is a su­per model of an is­land – all tow­er­ing moun­tains, ver­dant val­leys and aqua­ma­rine la­goons. The lo­cals are beau­ti­ful, chilled out and friendly. The near-shore waves are fun and con­sis­tent while the reef passes sculpt pacific per­fec­tion. Most of your stay the waves aren't re­motely ter­ri­fy­ing. You find hifi beachies, long wrap­ping walls and snug cylin­ders. When­ever Teahupoo breaks you're out there. Un­der five feet it's a per­fect sec­tion­less bar­rel. When it gets big­ger it be­comes a heart-in-the-mouth thriller. You learn to read the waves and, late in your stay, a set finds you in po­si­tion. You push your­self over the ledge, en­gage your in­side rail and pump might­ily. The ocean folds and the is­land that Gau­guin could never leave ap­pears through a per­fectly round frame. It's the wave of your life, the trip of your life. You know now that the cliché is true: that not tak­ing risk can be the big­gest risk of all. Real dan­ger lurks on the couch and in the soft op­tion. Tahiti has taught you to live.

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