Teahupoo Barrel Mission

It was all about commitment, preparation and timing for Ariihoe Tefaafana as he set about completing his mission to get barreled at one of the world’s most infamous reef breaks…

Words: Ariihoe Tefaafana
Photos: Domenic Mosqueira


At the time of the year these shots were taken it is pretty much the end of the southerly season in Tahiti, and a week before this I’d seen something there that looked like they could be the perfect conditions to get barreled with my foil. I’d been waiting a long time for it – there were a couple of occasions it had shown up previously but there were just too many people in the water, and I didn’t want to hurt anyone. But luckily, towards the end of the season there are not too many surfers out there, and that morning only two of my friends were in the water. The swell was just as perfect as it can get, and I felt like it was THE day. I’d already gotten barreled before but being able to do it at Teahupoo is just so special. It is not somewhere you go to try or to train… you have to be fully ready when you decide to foil there.

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I have tried to get barreled a few times at my home spot, which looks a little bit like Teahupoo when it gets big, and it’s been a long road to get the right technique to finally be able to pull into barrels on a foil. My tow partner and I have worked really hard to get to this stage – big wipeouts, broken gear on the reef and having my neck twisted – I can tell you it’s been pretty sketchy. It is all about commitment… and perhaps a little bit of craziness. The gear also plays its part too, and it’s important to have the right equipment. In these kind of waves at Teahupoo, I’ll be riding one of the smallest wings in the world made by Lift Foils. 

The power and the hollowness of the wave make everything so complicated. You’re going so fast that if you make a little mistake, it’s all done. That day I got some really good rides and I had so much fun. Getting barreled is definitely a unique feeling, and even more so on a foil. It’s one of the heaviest waves in the world on a shortboard, so you can just imagine how much heavier it feels on a foil. As a surfer who loves getting barreled, that’s been the goal since day one. Getting barreled with a foil might look incredible right now, but things will be moving to the next level and beyond in a couple of years. Of that I’m sure.  

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