Teahupoo: the Tahitian wave mastered by Laird Hamilton

Teahupoo is one of the most powerful and deadly waves in the planet for surfing. How do you ride Tahiti's infamous surf break?

The history of Teahupoo and surfing is not a old one. The town of Teahupoo has seen surfers coming from all regions of the globe, since the 1960's. Back then, wave riders discovered that it was possible to paddle out to a reasonable surf break, in only fifteen minutes.

The first surfer to ride Teahupoo was Tahitian Thierry Vernaudon, in 1985. At least, he claims the first ride, along with a few local friends. The entire island is surrounded by coral atolls and this spot knows it very well.

Teahupoo: understanding the meaning of timing in surfing

For Mike Stewart and Ben Severson - two experienced bodyboarders - this was almost the perfect wedge. They followed the steps of Vernaudon and brought the word "Teahupoo" to Hawaii and the rest of the globe.

The defining moment only comes in 1998, though. The Gotcha Tahiti Pro sees Teahupoo going wild and pumping serious, breathtaking waves. The South Pacific surf beast, also known as "Chopes", was increasingly inviting the big wave surfing elite to Tahiti.

The heaviest wave in the world would claim lives, but would also crown unforgettable surfers and their epic rides. Laird Hamilton scored the famous "Millennium Wave" and Any Irons took the title of "King of Teahupoo" to the skies, forever.

Teahupoo: crowded line-up, few wave riders

If you want to surf Teahupoo once in a lifetime, first of all, don't risk your life. Pick a head-high day and start getting used to the fast and hollow drop. Then, after ten waves, go for a barreling ride to feel the power and speed of Tahiti.

Are you unsure where to sit in the line-up? No worries. Depending on the direction of the swell, there are only three take-off spots in Teahupoo.

The hardest and most challenging spot is the southern surf peak. Expect a deep take-off and no mistakes are accepted here. The southwest is the most popular one. Finally, get a backdoor experience on the western elbow of Teahupoo.

Teahupoo: Bruce Irons is ready to taste the Tahitian reef

The Tahitian pearl can quickly change its appearance, if wind and swell decide to head different ways. The best and classic swell direction in Teahupoo is south-southwest, while northern breeze will ensure its glassy look.

Teahupoo is a vibrant and mutant slab breaking over a shallow live reef. Its wave face is much bigger than its back and, therefore, offers an heavy, liquid and tubular ride that may be surfed in 45-foot conditions. Are you ready for it?