Teahupoo is a wave zone off the coast of southwestern Tahiti. But, it isn’t just any kind of wave. Described with phrases like “the grinding eye of doom” and “liquid napalm”, Teahupoo boasts a handful of nasty features.
To start, the wave moves in a unique pattern, “detonating laterally, producing a barrel that has accurately been compared to the Lincoln Tunnel,” writes Stephen Kotler in his book Rise of Superman. Add in the fact that it breaks in extremely shallow water with sharp coral reef sitting just below and you have an absolute monster.
The issue with riding Teahupoo isn’t so much finding someone crazy enough to catch and ride the wave; there are plenty of those in the surfing community. Rather, it’s being able to catch the wave in the first place.
Waves like Teahupoo and other giants that tower 60 feet and higher move much faster than any human can paddle. Previously, this limitation forced surfers to top out at 25-footers. That is until Darrick Doerner and surfing legend Laird Hamilton set out on a mission to tame Teahupoo in 2000, a ride that would change the game of surfing forever. 1