World of Sport

World’s top surfers battered by ‘scary’ notorious Tahiti spot

World of Sport

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(Photo courtesy of ASP)

The world's top professional surfers have been greeted by some truly astonishing waves at the start of the Billabong Pro in Tahiti - a spot notorious for its frightening conditions.

The famous Teahupo'o spot has been thrilling and scaring the world's best for many years, with wave faces measured around a staggering 10 to 15 feet.

But it's not so much the size but also the thickness and ferocious nature of the waves that impresses and terrifies the surfers the most.

The living and jagged coral reef which the waves break over has claimed the life of one surfer in the short time that the spot has been used, while others have reportedly left skin and chunks of flesh out on the water.

In this rundown of surfing's deadliest surf spots, Tahiti's infamous wave is featured prominently.

Back in 2000, local surfer Briece Taerea attempted to punch through a massive wave and was sucked backwards on to the reef. Others have been lucky to survive after colliding with the coral reef.

Adding to the terrifying nature of the wave is local lore that harkens back to the days of tribal warfare and has “Teahupo‘o” roughly translated to “chop the head” in English.

Surfing legend Kelly Slater revealed his anxiety and emotion on the first day of the Billabong Pro Tahiti, the seventh event on the 11-part ASP World Tour.

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(Photo courtesy of ASP)

"Right when we pulled up I saw a couple of bombs,” said Slater.

"I’m so excited that I’m shaking. I’ve got to calm down. It’s going to be a good week."

Slater got through the early heats okay and was able to stay safely away from the razor-sharp reef, but former world champion CJ Hopgood got sucked over the biggest wave of the opening day and fell onto the reef.

Hopgood, left bloodied and shaken, was taken away by the Tahitian Water Patrol and taken back to land for a check-up. Fortunately, he was just bruised and battered.

"CJ’s wipeout was scary,” said California’s Nat Young. “I saw him paddle for the wave, and I heard everyone in the channel cheering. It was huge and he went for it, but then he pulled back at the last second and he got sucked over the falls.

"Out there you can’t think of what’s happened or what might happen. You have to focus on getting the waves that you want and making them.”

Tahiti’s own Taumata Puhetini encountered a personal disaster, freefalling down the face of a massive set wave, landing awkwardly and head-first, twisting his neck.

He was picked up by the Water Patrol from the lagoon and was stabilized with a neck brace and taken to a nearby hospital. Reports from Tahiti have him in stable condition.

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