Fears mount over potential for Olympian deaths at Paris 2024’s extreme surf venue Teahupoo, “The danger zone is everywhere, everywhere!”

“You are unprepared. You are endangering people around you… if you continue to do what you’re doing, you’re gonna die.

A couple of days back on their podcast The Grit the noted surf broadcaster David Lee Scales and his loudmouth hoodlum sidekick Charlie Smith spoke eloquently of the folly of Paris 2024 Olympic qualifiers being held at lightweight venues Huntington Beach and El Salvador. 

Wrote Chas, “The sheer absurdity of using those waves as a gauntlet for the ‘Left of Doom’ is, according to David Lee Scales, ‘an act of wilful negligence bordering on sociopathy.”

Now, following the episode, fear is growing that surfers from minnow countries for whom honour is everything will, when faced with ten-foot Teahupoo, choose the death-or-glory option over prudence and an early exit from the event. 

The last athlete to be killed during the Olympics was Portugal’s first marathon entrant, Francisco Lazaro, who died of heat exhaustion at the thirty-click mark during the 1912 Games.

A couple of stiffs during training, bike and luge, in the nineteen sixties and eleven Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorist at the 1972 Munich Games, but, for our purposes, we ain’t counting ‘em. 

The 2024 Games, which runs July 27-29, 2024, will feature 48 surfers, 24 male and 24 female athletes, eight more compared to Tokyo 2020.

As a sort of measure of the wave’s heaviness, at this year’s Teahupoo event the reigning world surfing champion, Filipe Toledo, reprised his “brave act of cowardice” from 2015 (Toledo didn’t take off on a wave in a heat against countryman Italo Ferreira) when he appeared to choke in perfect eight-foot waves, holding priority for fifteen-odd minutes while Slater and Hedge exchanged beneath him.

In contrast, the big-wave surfer Maya Gabeira almost died at Teahupoo in 2011, on a day deemed too big by the greatest surfer of all time, Kelly Slater. 

In a DM to Gabeira, Slater wrote, 

“You are unprepared. You are endangering people around you when they have to go in and rescue in such scenarios. I think if you continue to do what you’re doing, you’re gonna die. So I highly suggest you stop.”

Advice that might be equally given to less storied competitors if a swell does arrive on those fixed dates in July.

Whatever happens, very good for television.

Birthplace of surfing pivots away from ocean-generated waves, boldly gambles on Jamie O’Brien-esque Waimea river mouth billows instead!

More questions than answers.

Wave pools are no longer chimeras of science-fiction in our surfing world, no. They are as real as Mad Max Fury Road. As Dirk Ziff’s $5.7 billion and all fine and all good. Wave pools are very fun to surf, though I haven’t experienced all the technologies yet, of which there are many, including, Kelly Slater’s plow, the rusty plunger, Wavegarden’s other plow, Surf Loch’s whoosh. Waco’s other whoosh, etc.

On an interesting related note, birthplace of surfing Oahu is set to get its first wave pool though has opted for none of the above. The Wai Kai Wave park, to be built near Ewa Beach, has opted for a Jamie O’Brien-esque shovel n sand model. Shall we learn more? According to Forbes:

This exciting development is the first of its kind in Hawai’i, where modern surfing caught a wave in the cultural zeitgeist, and it will have the world’s largest deep-water standing surf wave. Powered by citywave®, this technology creates realistic surfing conditions with infinite and adjustable waves, ranging from two to six feet to accommodate a range of skill levels. The 100-foot-wide controlled wave will allow up to three surfers at a time, and an additional 30 in the “barefoot zone,” and is designed to emulate natural standing river waves like the North Shore’s famous Waimea River Sand Bar.

The Wai Kai Wave was created in collaboration with local surfer Shane Beschen, an X Games gold medalist and former world number two surfer. He and other former and current professional surfers will be available for hands-on instruction and training sessions.


You in?

Hamilton (left) with offending bauble.
Hamilton (left) with offending bauble.

Surf enthusiast and Kelly Slater acolyte Lewis Hamilton in hot water over wearing rebellious nose stud whilst driving race car!

If you can't rock n roll...

Lewis Hamilton is an international icon, a winning competitor, very handsome but also cute like a chinchilla. He is, in short, a perfect man, and surf enthusiast, guided by the one and only Kelly Slater. A few years ago, Hamilton penned, “He probably doesn’t know this but Kelly changed my life for the better. I want you all to know how great of a human being this man is. I am forever grateful for the time you have given me, for the insight and your passion for the waves. Thank you @kellyslater! Can’t wait until we can hit the waves again.”

Well, Hamilton’s love of our rebellious surfing lifestyle, replete with edgy sunglasses, mud hill sliding, mud hill policing, cocaine etc. has landed the F1 star in hot water as he was summoned to the highest law in that sport in order to answer for some rock n roll.


No further action has been taken against Lewis Hamilton for wearing a nose stud during qualifying day for the Singapore Grand Prix, although his Mercedes team has been fined €25,000 for submitting a scrutineering form that declared Hamilton was not wearing jewellery.

Hamilton explained after qualifying that he was wearing his nose stud because removing it at previous rounds had led to an infection and he had been told by doctors to keep it in place to avoid the infection coming back.

The stewards at the Singapore Grand Prix accepted Hamilton’s explanation, but still fined Mercedes for signing off a form that “declared that the driver complied with the requirement not to wear jewellery in the form of body piercing”.

Now, of course Slater would have counseled Hamilton to steer clear of the rebel yell, as he has always represented the glories of clean living, and it can only be hoped that the British speedster will return to the honest path.

Truth and integrity.

Chode (pictured).
Chode (pictured).

Enterprising Irishman makes detailed maps, including GPS coordinates, of every secret wave in Hawaii and California; uses “chodes from Manhattan Beach” to advertise!

Paddle V-Land with the crew!

There are rules in our odd surfing world and there are rules. Don’t paddle out in a pack, don’t jibber jabber in the lineup, don’t wear a spring-suit even in spring, don’t skirt around somebody who has been sitting on the peak (unless they are straddling a Wavestorm), don’t throw water in the air in an attempt to entice the “surf gods” to send swell, etc. etc.


Well, an enterprising Irishman has boldly flouted the all-caps no-no by producing beautiful maps of the Hawaiian islands and California with exact coordinates to every secret wave in the aforementioned plus many more details and has employed “chodes from Manhattan Beach” (according to noted surf personality) to advertise and hopefully sell.

Good idea?

Bold flaunting?

Buy here?

Holding qualifications for Teahupo’o Olympics in Huntington Beach slop called “act of willful negligence bordering on sociopathy” by progressive moral bellwether!

Death in the Afternoon.

As students of professional surfing are keenly aware, the Summer Olympics are but two years away and with it, the Sport of Kings’ glorious return to global attention. Surfing was, of course, introduced as an Olympic sport at the last games in Japan. With no spectators were allowed on the beach, due Covid restrictions, the whole scene was rather droll, little waves lapping Italo Ferreira’s calves as he claimed gold.


This next running, though, will see surfers paddling out at might Teahupo’o. The “end of the road” there in French Polynesia with its terrifying blue fold detonating on ouchy reef. Green spires twirling skyward, in the background, while boats bob and boil in the channel.

Teahupo’o is impossible to ignore and will be possible to ignore for the multiple millions tuning in around from around the globe for the very first time.

High stakes.

The problem, however, is that to qualify for an opportunity to huck over the awful ledge, surf hopefuls test themselves against Huntington Beach’s sandy slop and, next year, El Salvador’s clean little right points. The sheer absurdity of using those waves as a gauntlet for the “Left of Doom” is, according to David Lee Scales, an act of willful negligence bordering on sociopathy.

Now, Scales did not say those exact words, and I wouldn’t necessarily call him a progressive moral bellwether like some have, but the point was true and powerful as he delivered it during our weekly scheduled chat.

Imagine surfers, not on the World Surf League, forced to do battle at Teahupo’o for the very first time. Will it pure chaos, brave boys and girls leaping into death or glory? Or will many choose to reprise 2022 champion Filipe Toledo’s brave act of cowardice, sitting out the back, refusing to play?

I suppose without Final’s Day there on Lower Trestles’ cobbled stone backing Teahupo’o up, dropping anchor won’t truly be an option.

So pandemonium, then.

Good watching, no doubt, but fair to the Olympians?


Listen, and ponder, here but also, episode is very much worth a scrub to the last three minutes wherein an epic remix recounting Toledo’s historic day is waiting for you.