WATCH: 19-Year-Old French Surfer Rides One of the Biggest Swells Ever Recorded at Teahupoo, Tahiti Last Weekend

Martin Kuprianowicz | | SurfSurf

World-famous surf hotspot Teahupoo was absurdly large last weekend—perfectly adequate for Friday the 13th. Watching this video above of Kauli Vaast drop in on this monster of a wave and then get swallowed by it is emotional, to say the least.

Kauli Vaast, a 19-year-old professional surfer from France, called the wave a “wave of a lifetime” and the “biggest mountain of water [he’s] ever seen coming,” according to an Instagram post shared by the wild young surfer. 

The Teahupoo swell in mention was truly gigantic. Here’s what Surfline Lead Forecaster Jonathan Warren had to say about it, according to Surfline:

“Up to this point, the season for Tahiti has been going sub-par. Sure, there have been a handful of decent swells here and there, even a good one back in May, but for already crossing the halfway point there hasn’t been that big banger of a pulse just yet. Until now.”

“Over the past couple weeks, the Southwest Pacific shifted into a more unusual pattern, but also a very productive one, as we’ve clearly witnessed. Developing lows have been either crossing over New Zealand or even dropping down from north of it, then merging with another developing low sweeping through the lower latitudes — ultimately combining forces in the Southwest Pacific into one stronger storm and right in the wheelhouse for Tahiti.”

“There were a number of factors about this latest storm that were very similar to the storm that delivered the epic swell over Aug 6th-7th. The biggest aspects being the aforementioned merging lows in the Southwest Pacific, as well as a more northward oriented fetch and a general slow east-southeastward track. Note this track is typically not the best for maximizing swell potential (not pushing toward Tahiti), but that ended up resulting in light local wind and glassy conditions to greet each swell. Both of these systems were also roughly the same distance from Tahiti while at their strongest, which the former storm was actually a little closer.

“Now, let’s dissect the biggest facets that set these two events apart: The merging lows of this latest storm were both similar in size and strength as they were coming together. Both storms were already producing swell for Tahiti in their own right, then as they joined forces, and with a huge assist from a very strong area of high pressure centered over the Tasman Sea, the fetch for Tahiti rapidly intensified and greatly expanded in size. The former storm had a much smaller and weaker low that merged in from the south, as well as weaker high pressure on its flank, thus setting up a smaller and weaker wind-field aimed at Tahiti.

“As a result, a much larger and longer period swell was produced off this latest storm, which the bulk of this energy was also a bit more south in angle compared to the previous pulse. The positive aspect of that more southerly angle for a swell of this caliber is that it was more “makeable” for those daring to charge it. If a swell of this magnitude moved in from the angle of the former pulse, this spot would have been even faster, thicker, and more hollow, possibly too much and unsurfable. There would likely have been more carnage potential in the channel as well. Basically, the swell back on the 6th-7th was about max size as you want for that angle and period, while the swell we just witnessed was pushing the limits of what the reef can handle from that size, angle, and period.”

Beauty, frustration, bliss, terror—all of it, at once. This is what can be palpably felt in the air—by both brave surfers and wide-eyed onlookers—at Teahupoo during swells like these.


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