Wednesday the 17th of March will be remembered as surfing's greatest St Patrick's Day ever! A giant low-pressure system, creating a massive 15-20ft swell that developed and battered the New Zealand coastline then intensified in the Pacific gaining strength and size on its way to Teahupo'o in Tahiti.
All surfers regard Teahupo'o as the heaviest and deadliest wave in the world. This is due to the combination of big open ocean swells breaking from extremely deep water onto very shallow coral reef. This causes the wave to break below sea level and with no back to the wave.
When Teahupo'o gets big the only way to ride it is with the help of personal water craft (Jet Skis), not only to get into the wave but also to save any surfers that wipeout on the reef.
Having already surfed Teahupo'o twice before with one particular wave getting nominated for biggest barrel and ride of the year at the Billabong XXL Awards, Doug Young (Chch) woke up to write his local surf report and realised what he was looking at on the swell map, a chance of a lifetime to surf the break for the third time. Doug had one hour to organise his life. Doug grabbed young surfer Sam Hawke (Chch), rushed to the airport and managed to get the only flight heading to Tahiti for the week.
Reaching Tahiti late and exhausted Doug and Sam slept on the beach and woke up to what locals are calling the biggest day ever in Teahupo'o.
"I scored one of the most amazing barrel rides of my life only to be swallowed by the foam ball and dragged across the reef. I then had another five more waves on the head before finally being rescued by the jet ski. It was a very special day with many of the best big wave chargers from all around the world claiming to have ridden the best waves of their lives." Doug recalls.
Having the right tow partner plays a crucial role in riding these waves; one small mistake by the driver can turn into a big mistake for the surfer. This was not however the case for Young and Hawke, after several hours flying and sitting in seats that were their lucky numbers they didn't want there luck to run out.
Wearing as much green as they could on St Patrick's Day, it was the luck of the Irish when Young raced toward the largest set wave of the day and towed Hawke into the biggest, gangliest wave of his life. The wave of the day which everybody called the biggest ever ridden at Teahupo'o! After getting washed into the lagoon Young pulled Hawke out of the water, struggling for breath, blood rushing out of his nose only to be greeted by a standing ovation from an all star cast of surfers including; Shane Dorian, Ian Walsh, Vatea David, Carlos Burle, Raimana Van Bastolaer and the rest of the local crews.
Hawke explains, "The who's who were there. Ten skis were out so we picked off small and medium ones and I was happy, we got good waves. We looked out and there was only one other ski out, Shane Dorian and Ian Walsh were waiting for the bomb, we started to laugh, threw the rope out. They took the first wave we took the second and knew it was the bomb. Doug screamed at me to go bro! As I looked at a dry patch of reef all I was thinking was that every muscle of my body was set to make the bottom of this wave". Hawke made the drop and set his line, the wave had so much water on it sucking the reef dry on the inside eliminating the safety of the channel.
Both Surfers rides will now be amongst the top contenders for the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards, a global competition rewarding the worlds best big wave surfers with a first prize purse of US$50,000.
Hawke and Young's rides will be entered in the ride of the year and monster tube categories.
Highlights of some of the days Huge Waves
Hawke also has entries in this year's awards from his monster perfect 10 point ride as part of the Fantastic Noodles Intense Wave Invitational and Doug with his biggest paddle in wave award at the Australasian Oakley ASL Big Wave awards. The event-waiting period ended on 19th of March 2010, with this spectacular session in Tahiti set to dominate the podiums at the gala awards night in two weeks in Los Angeles.
Check out the full story coming out on www.surf.co.nz
A special thanks to
Source: Surfing New Zealand