Teahupo'o, Tahiti's mythical Olympic wave: the ultimate challenge for surfers from all over the world

Published by La Rédac · Published on April 13th, 2024 at 12:40 a.m.
Almost 100 days until the Olympic Games! The surfing event is scheduled for July 27-30 in Tahiti's Teahupo'o resort.

The end of the world, literally

18,000 km from Paris, at Teahupo'o in southern Tahiti, the road comes to a screeching halt. It even makes a U-turn around a traffic circle embellished́ with a "work of art". A large emerald-green wave threatening to crash onto a longboard. It reads the names of the living gods of surfing who write, year after year, the legend of Teahupo'o.

This is "the most dangerous wave in the world". The warning is written in red letters on a sign planted at the edge of the beach. In days gone by, Tahitian chiefs used to demonstrate their superioritý and divine status here.

The wave roars 400m from the shore, just behind the coral reef. Papeete is 60 km away. But here, we're "on the peninsula", as the locals say to show that they don't belong to the same world. Seen from the air, it looks like the tail fin of the big fish formed by the island of Tahiti.

JO SurfJO SurfJO SurfJO Surf

Surfing at the Olympics

On August 3, 2016, the International Olympic Committee voted to include surfing in the list of five new sports included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Surfers perform maneuvers and tricks on a wave, and are then rated by five judges according to the variety of their sequences, the type of tricks performed and their difficulty. Speed, power and flow are also taken into account in the judges' scores.

JO SurfJO SurfJO SurfJO Surf

Teahupo'o: a world-renowned spot

Teahupo'o's waves break with great power, accentuated by the reef which suddenly rises from the ocean floor, dropping from several meters to 80 cm of water.

Admired and feared, since 1997 this spot has hosted a World Surf League World Championship stage on waves up to 10m high. These water monsters are renowned for their tubular shape! The surfer's challenge is to slide in and out before the jaws close. In 2000, it was decided to set up jet-ski patrols to "pick up" the champions as they emerged from the roll before they impaled themselves on the reef... Those who tackle the Polynesian wave are experts. The tube seems perfect, but the slightest mistake can be fatal". In Tahitian, tea-hu-poo means "mountain of skulls".

Some surfers, such as reigning Olympic champion Italo Ferreira, three-time world champion Gabriel Medina and fellow Olympians Caroline Marks (USA) and Tatiana Weston Webb (Brazil), start with an advantage.

The French qualifiers are Johanne Defay, Vahiné Fierro, Joan Duru and Kauli Vaast. All four are currently fine-tuning their season's preparations in Tahiti.

JO SurfJO SurfJO SurfJO Surf

Article written by Alain Raveleau

Practical information
Refine your search
Refine your search
Refine your search
Refine your search