Teahupoo: the Tahitian wave mastered by Laird Hamilton

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

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

The first surfer to claim first ride Teahupoo was Tahitian Thierry Vernaudon, in 1985. A few local friends support his story. The entire island is surrounded by coral atolls, making for very interesting surf.

Teahupoo: understanding the meaning of timing in surfing

For Mike Stewart and Ben Severson - two experienced bodyboarders visiting Tahiti - this was almost the perfect wedge. Following in the steps of Vernaudon, they returned to Hawaii from Tahiti, and brought with them the word "Teahupoo".

Teahupoo's defining moment came in 1998, at the Gotcha Tahiti Pro. Teahupoo was going wild; pumping serious, breathtaking waves. The South Pacific surf beast, affectionately nicknamed "Chopes", grabbed everyone's attention, and before long, the big wave surfing elite were arriving in Tahiti.

The heaviest wave in the world has claimed lives, but it has also crowned unforgettable surf champions and their epic rides. Laird Hamilton scored the famous "Millennium Wave" here, and Any Irons took the title of "King of Teahupoo" with him to the skies, forever.

Teahupoo: crowded line-up, few wave riders

If you want to surf Teahupoo as a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience, 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 and suitable confidence, 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, with no mistakes accepted. The southwest is the most popular one. You can also have 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 a 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 a heavy, liquid, tubular ride that can even be surfed in 45-foot conditions. Are you ready for it?