Manoa turned. "This one, this one is good. GO"
Sam never looked back. He paddled straight into the monster itself. From the line up, we lost him. He took off so deep we were certain he would end up over the falls, on the reef, the board absolutely totaled. We held our breath, waiting for the flicker of green to emerge. And it did. That green DEEP board flying into the channel. Sam arms extended in a state of euphoria. He'd made it. The lineup erupted, the loudest cheers from Manoa himself.
Manoa was the first to take Teahupoo on a prone 10'6. Sam was the first on a 12.
Waterman Tahiti Tour - Moorea.
I'm a big fan of adventure. And always the first to say yes to just about anything. When the opportunity to head to Tahiti for a waterman event presented itself, I had agreed before I even knew what I'd signed up for. Turns out was a pretty good decision.
The Waterman Tahiti Tour Event 4 was staged on the island of Moorea. A gorgeous island a quick ferry trip from Papeete. With its aqua blue lagoons and soaring peaks, it truly provides the perfect backdrop.
The event itself was run over the course of 2 days. Day 1 - 21km SUP and combo waterman event, a multi discipline event involving swim, prone and SUP.
Day 2 - 3km swim and 10km prone. And a surprise 5 min plank challenge just for good measure.
I can't fault the race. The crystal clear water sitting at a tropical 29 degrees, jagged reef that proved to provide some navigational headaches and race briefings that consisted of "follow the lead boat until the pass, around a boat in the pass and return back to the beach". It's easy to see why the Tahitian culture embraces everything watersport related. Simply put, we were paddling in paradise.
As enjoyable as the race itself was, the culture of the event was even better. Had you strolled down to Pineapple Beach on Sunday morning you would find a group of watermen slogging it out on the water to crown a champion. Stroll down to the beach Sunday midday, you would have found the same group of watermen gathered together, still in race attire, sharing a traditional meal, a few drinks and plenty of stories. This is the heart of the event. A group of individuals coming together to share their love of the ocean. It's as simple as that.
As a kid I was inquisitive. The local Tahitian kids are no different. So naturally when a group of people turn up with blonde hair, foreign accents and bright 12ft prone boards, we had a few observers.
Language barriers always provides some funny moments. Inviting the kids to come join us for a paddle and take our boards for a spin involved a series of over-exaggerated hand movements and some pretty confused looks. But we got there in the end. These kids spend every day waterlogged from dawn to dusk, paddling whatever board, boat, or log they can get their hands on. Paddling with these kids watching the excitement unfold on their faces, you can't help but find yourself grinning from ear to ear. No words were spoken, but as it turns out, none were required. Shared smiles, they're universal.
Thanks again for an amazing trip.