Billabong pro Tahiti, Teahupoo

You will hear “Teahupo’o” pronounced in a variety of ways, but when we talk to Billabong’s Manoa Drollet, one of the best surfers ever at the break and a Tahitian local, he pronounces it “Chee-yow-po” so we’re running with that.

And what’s “Teahupo’o” translated? Roughly, it means ‘head with no hair’ or ‘place of skulls’. Referring of course to a battle between a couple of tribal groups over the territory pre-European arrival. The area is kind of prized as a really nice piece of farmland with access to excellent fishing — worth fighting over apparently. The skulls of the losing team were built into a wall to warn off other people who may have been interested in the land value thereabouts.

The freshwater flowing from the mountains inhibits coral growth, thereby creating the reef passes that provide most of the rideable waves in Tahiti. The reef pass at Teahupo’o is known as Passa Hava’e.

If you do get cut by the coral, and it’s kind of inevitable if you’re active in and out of boats and having a surf, the best thing to do in order to prevent infection is rub lime into the cut. Serious! It stings more than hell itself, but sterilizes the wound. The alternative? The bacteria survive inside your body, you get a staph infection (blood poisoning) and the nearest doctor is your new best friend! If you can’t stand the lime treatment, be sure to seek other treatment.

Because most of the surf is off shore in Tahiti, beyond the lagoon that rims the island, ideally you’re accessing the breaks by boat, local-style. Paddling to the breaks is possible, but will often take around 20 minutes one-way. Boats are available for hire to media looking to cover the competition, but booking is required well in advance! Numbers are limited!

There’s normally only one restaurant year-round in Teahupo’o, but roughly 20 when the Billabong Pro is in town! Locals call them ‘Le Snacks’.

Most pros surf something a couple inches longer than their usual shortboards – like a 6’3” – then their quiver moves up in two-to-three inch increments. Eight to ten board quivers are common with the longest board typically around 7’0”. Teahupo’o is a BEAST of a wave so refined, specialised equipment is a must!

Fast Facts!

Official Event name: Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui
Co-Sponsors: Monster Energy, Sony, Sony Ericsson, VonZipper, Australia’s Surfing Life.
What: Event 5 of 10 on the 2011 ASP Men’s World Tour.
Prizemoney: US$425,000 total prize pool.
Winner receives: US$75,000 / 10,000 ratings points.
Who: The top 32 rated surfers from the ASP Men’s World Tour plus four wildcards
Wildcards 2011: Two are determined by Air Tahiti Nui/VonZipper Trials, which will be surfed in the best waves between 14th – 17th August. A place is also given to the highest placed Tahitian trialist. If the winner is Tahitian, second place receives the extra wildcard!
Location: Teahupo’o, Tahiti. One of the most intimidating and awe inspiring left hand tubes in the world!