For those who don’t know very much about the world of pro surfing, it isn’t very often that a professional contest gets cancelled because the surf is actually too big. That’s exactly what happened in Tahiti, however, when a massive swell generated by hurricane force winds in the southern latitudes rendered the surf too powerful for any human to possibly paddle in to.
With the 2011 Billabong Pro Tahiti on hold due to the exceptional surf conditions, many of the world’s top surfers instead opted to whip into the aquatic monsters via tow-lines attached to the back of jet skis. In case you’re unfamiliar with the sport of tow-surfing, this video should be a nice little introduction.
Taking place on the ridiculously shallow reefbreak known as Teahupoo (or simply “Chopes” to those in the know), the spot is renowned for having a wave shape that more resembles a dark, bulbous pit of death than a casual, inviting day at the beach. It’s the same place where Laird Hamilton in August, 2000 rode the wave that forever changed big wave surfing history.
While the contest has since resumed, this is a glimpse into the types of days that professional big wave surfers consistently travel across the globe attempting to conquer.