Red Letter Day: Wonderland

Rider & Words: Swan Habelt
Photos: Valerie Azzaria
Location: Moorea, Tahiti
Date: Wednesday 20th Octotober, 2021

The island paradise of Moorea is home to Swan Habelt, whose passion for foiling and surfing is only enhanced by his love for his sublime local surroundings, and only matched in his commitment to protecting it wherever he can. Here, he tells us about one particularly perfect day that’s not going to disappear from his memory any time soon…

I live on the island of Moorea, in French Polynesia. No matter how many pictures you look at of our beautiful island, you can't truly get a sense of it unless you spend time here. This is where I grew up and where I’ve indulged my passion for water sports for the last 21 years.

Early on this particular Wednesday morning, I headed to my favorite secret spot to check the conditions, just as I always do. But things were weird… and contrary to what is normal and what had been forecast, the wind had changed. Usually at this time of the year, a northeasterly wind called the Toerau blows on the spot. But this day it blew from the southeast. The Maraamu wind was early, and although I didn't know it yet, it was the harbinger of one of my most beautiful wing foil sessions ever.

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My sessions very often start around the breakfast table, with the family, just as it has since my first surf session at seven-years-old. Today was no different, but we decided to change our plans and head to the south of our beautiful island to follow the wind. 

It was 9am when we got there and it was clear straight away that the conditions were optimal… 20 knots of wind, 1.5 meter waves, and I was ready to roll with my AFS WILF wind wing, riding the Flyer 1000 and T-bar 82cm. The most experienced riders on the island were already on the spot. My surfing experience instinctively tells me to be patient and to take my time in choosing the right wave. I remember having the feeling that I was going to have the most amazing session…

And suddenly there it was. The wave of the day. I launched myself into it, I take a deep breath and seize upon the rhythm, the intensity of the momentum under me, and I play with it. A pure sensation of happiness. I nail my first 360 of the day, under the gaze of the dolphins that enter the passes to rest during the day and continue their hunt at night.

The smile that remained on my face on the way back home that day was going nowhere. We wound our way back on the ski, darting peacefully between the coral heads. Experiencing such an extraordinary session in an environment such as Moorea, surrounded by all its mesmerizing flora and fauna never fails to remind me of the importance in protecting our natural world.

Home, and onto a beer and the fiery sunset that awaited me on the Captain Taina pontoon, celebrating this epic day with my friends, and my limitless love for foiling, for the ocean and for this place.   

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