Sam George (pictured) wiping out. Photo: WSL
Sam George (pictured) wiping out. Photo: WSL

World Surf League forecasting partner Surfline shreds “Saltwater Buddha” Sam George’s linguistic treatise on pronunciation of Teahupo’o ahead of final contest of season!

"There can be only one 'world's heaviest wave', and that title rests soundly with the wave at Teahupo'o (don't make saying it more difficult than it need be; it's pronounced Cho-poo)."

The World Surf League, and its ever diminishing stable of surfers, is headed toward the final stop of the season, rendered largely irrelevant by the much ballyhooed, increasingly dumb “final’s day” at a soft wave breaking over cobbled stone.


The end of the road.

Yes, former CEO Erik Logan destroyed much during his nearly five year reign, including his own marriage and life, but the Championship Tour (formerly known as the Dream Tour) has suffered the brunt of his horny idiocy.

It doesn’t matter what happens at the heavy left, one responsible for breaking the back of Australia’s great hope Ethan Ewing. For the “big showdown” at Lower Trestles is set.

Filipe Toledo for the win.

The brave coward, too, scared to paddle the aforementioned “Chopes” but no matter because no waves will appear during the increasingly cursed waiting period ushering him directly to his second championship with, I suppose, much adulation.


But also “Chopes.”

Days ago, the world’s preeminent surf thinker, a veritable Buddha, published an important piece on the intimate outdoor blog The Inertia declaring that the Tahitian wave has been misgendered.

Per his reporting:

And even though I know better, having grown up in Hawaii and spent considerable time in Polynesia, I’ve been mispronouncing Teahupo’o along with everybody else. Perhaps that’s why it seems to me that this ramp-up to the Summer Olympics is a good time to change that egregious habit. Soon the eyes of the world will be turned to a tiny, incredibly picturesque village on the island of Tahiti, perceived entirely in the context of international surfing. A village whose residents have, for decades now, been incredibly generous, sharing their remarkable natural resource with the hordes of foreigners who descend on this little slice of paradise every season to shoot their videos and hold their contests and establish their reputations and earn their salaries…and yet still say the place’s name wrong. Yeah, let’s fix that. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the proper pronunciation is “Tear-hoo-poh-oh.”

Surfline, though, the World Surf League’s official broadcast partner, shredded the deity with one simple line.

There can be only one “world’s heaviest wave”, and that title rests soundly with the wave at Teahupo’o (don’t make saying it more difficult than it need be; it’s pronounced Cho-poo).


Sam George crying into his Nia Peeples scented pillow tonight?

Should we make a Nia Peeples scented candle for him tonight?


Keale Lemos, who filmed the wave, said Ewing's wave, nothing special, a smallish insider, "didn't get any attention and we didn't notice any rescue either. Almost no one new about the accident until the news arrived a little later."

See: the Tahitian wave that shattered Australian world title hopeful Ethan Ewing’s spine!

“Almost no one who was present knew about the accident.”

As reported yesterday, the Australian world title hopeful Ethan Ewing shattered two vertebrae while warming-up for the Tahiti Pro at Teahupoo, which begins in two days.

Ewing, who is twenty four, was rated second in the world coming into the event and had not only secured his spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics, with the surfing to be held at Teahupoo, but also in the Finals Day showdown at Lower Trestles in September.

At around nine-thirty in waves described as “six foot, sold, west and proper” Ewing wiped out and was shuttled to shore on a jetski.

Keale Lemos, who filmed the wave, said Ewing’s wave, nothing special, a smallish insider, “didn’t get any attention and we didn’t notice any rescue either. Almost no one new about the accident until the news arrived a little later.”

The twenty four year old from North Stradbroke Island famously won the Bells Beach event this year 40 years after his late mama had won the women’s there and was considered a considerable chance to wrest the world title from small-wave wizard Filipe Toledo.

If Ewing doesn’t make it to Finals Day, waiting period September 8 through 16, only four surfers will compete for the title.


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World champ Filipe Toledo after his zero point heat at Teahupoo in 2015, an unwanted stat he almost reprised against Kelly Slater and Nathan Hedge in 2022.

Toledo Question surrounds upcoming Tahiti Pro as reigning world champ struggles to prove worthiness to compete for Brazil at 2024 Paris Games

"Filipe will surf the Olympics next year, so it might make sense to you know, try this whole barrel thing out."

Dreamy images of tropical barrels flood my Instagram, a sure sign that it’s nearly time for Teahupo’o. I can spell it, but I definitely can’t say it. Fortunately, saying things right is not my job and I feel fine. There are few more aesthetically fabulous images in surfing than a barreling wave over a tropical reef. Having a wonderful time, wish you were here.

Not having a wonderful time is Ethan Ewing, who fractured his L3 and L4 during a free surf session ahead of Friday’s contest start. Back injuries are stupid painful and can take a solid chunk of time to heal. Of course, elite athletes aren’t normal people, so I’m not about to guess on this one. Wishin’ him good vibes all around.

If Ethan, currently world number 2, can not surf Trestles, what happens? Even without surfing Tahiti, he’s securely in the top five. His Olympic slot is also confirmed.

Perusing the WSL rulebook is totally my favorite past time, so I was excited to dig into it in search of the answer to this super important question. Unfortunately, the rules are ambiguous. The top five surfers in the rankings go to the finals. What’s unclear is whether injury replacements are allowed for the final five.

(Editor’s note: The WSL has confirmed there’ll be no top five replacements. If Ethan doesn’t make it to Finals Day, only four surfers will compete.)

While we’re talking about the rulebook, here’s one thing we do know. If you’ve looked at the numbers you may have noticed a weird quirk in the standings between Yago and Gabby. Why isn’t Gabby’s lowest score dropped? Simple. It came after the cut. According to the rules, only one score is dropped this year, and it happens before the cut. All results after the cut stand for determining the rankings. So, Gabby is sixth, but not by much.

Let’s turn to the forecast. Oh. Hmm. Maybe it would be better if we didn’t. I do not want you to be sad, and if you saw that forecast, you might become sad. Let’s just say, the waves were yet again quite good ahead of the contest window. Swells, they come and go, and mostly go.

Last time I did a full rankings for all the men it completely melted my brain. I am not stupid enough to try it again. Instead, let’s look at some heats. Maybe some of them will look interesting even!

Last seen getting shacked at Skeleton Bay in Namibia, Kelly faces Yago and Ian Gentil in the opening heat at Teahupo’o. I’m assuming he can bend time to his will and make it to Tahiti. It’s also possible he stubbed his toe in Namibia and won’t be there. You never know with Kelly.

Teahupo’o is one of the few stops where it makes sense for Kelly to be on Tour at all, but I hope Yago crushes him. Kick his ass, Yago! I did not promise to be objective about this thing. Yago has some heavy-hitters chasing him for that top five spot, so he needs to make some heats here.

João, sitting at number 4 also needs to make heats in Tahiti. Though he’s got a bit more breathing room, he’s faces a tough opener with local boy Kauli Vaast. Both João and Kauli can barrel, and have posted some sick clips from this week’s swell. They’re well-matched and It’s the kind of heat we’d love to see in good waves. Jordy is also in this heat.

Mihimana Braye replaces Ethan Ewing, and Griff draws him for the opening round. Griff has no need to take chances here with this top five secured, but it’s impossible to imagine that he’ll sit on his hands. Griff actually likes surfing heats, which is pretty helpful given his chosen career. Griff’s no slouch in the barrel either. I’d expect him to win this one, but it’s no sure thing.

Ah, the Toledo question. With his top five spot secure, he doesn’t need to do anything here. But Filipe will surf the Olympics next year, so it might make sense to you know, try this whole barrel thing out. Liam O’Brien and Matahi Drollet are in this heat, and a win for local Matahi would be sweet. But really, the main point of suspense in this one is whether Filipe decides to barrel or nah.

Gabby has won Teahupo’o twice and finished second on three occasions. He’s currently sixth in the rankings and both João and Yago have to nervous about that reality. Gabby missed last year to injury, but it’s impossible not to see him as a favorite to win the whole damn thing. He meets two Hawaiians, Barron Mamiya and Seth Moniz in the opening round. You’ll remember Seth finishing second to Kelly in that wild Pipe final in 2022, so this is not an easy heat. I’d still expect the three-time world champ to win it.

I was surprised to learn that John John hasn’t been to Teahupo’o in five years. It certainly didn’t show in the gorgeous clip he posted earlier this week. Just smooth, casual barrel surfing. I could watch him all day. John John meets Rio Waida and Kanoa in heat six. I’m not sure how the judges will underscore John John this time, but I’m sure they’ll find a way. Rio is hardly a walk-through and ignoring the forecast entirely, this is a fun match-up.

Like Gabby, John John can make the top five with a good finish in Teahupo’o. In good waves, this would seem like a no-brainer. His highest finish came back in 2016 when he finished second to Kelly. The following year, he lost to Jordy to finish fourth. If the waves are shit, it’ll come down to how much John John really wants to go to Trestles. Certainly he has the skills, but how much is he willing to grovel?

Jack Robinson is right behind John John in the rankings in eighth. Robbo started the year well with a win at Pipe and third a Sunset, but injuries have derailed things for him. He tore his meniscus at Bells, which is a nagging, shitty sort of injury. He came back quickly, maybe too quickly, and surfed the Ranch for a seventeenth. His ankle was taped during his free surfs in El Salvador, suggesting another injury.

A recent quarterfinal finish at J-Bay ended a string of seventeenths for Robbo, and his clips from this week look solid. He has Connor O’Leary and Callum Robson in his opener. A goofy, Connor’s had a solid run this year, but he’s never finished higher than ninth at Teahupo’o. Callum has never competed at Tahiti before this year. This one feels like Robbo’s to lose.

The final heat gives us Leo Fioravanti, Ryan Callinan, and Matthew Gillivrary. Did I tell you I saw Leo’s dad wandering the halls of the Tachi Palace? He was wearing an immaculate white Italian Olympic team tracksuit, which is not exactly the outfit you’d expect to see wandering the halls of a casino in Lemoore. Leo’s the fave for this heat.

My work here is done.

Let’s barrel!

Kelly Slater destroys three boards in one surf at remote West African wave dubbed the “Namibian Rickshaw” as the race begins to make it to Tahiti in time for his last-ever event

"We found the nose of one of Slater's boards two-and-a half-kilometres down the beach!”

The eleven-time champ Kelly Slater is in a race against time as he hustles to make it to Tahiti for what may be his last ever contest at Teahupoo, the waiting period beginning in only two days. 

Slater, who is fifty-one, joined the conga line of tube-wranglers, which included popular surf vloggers Nathan Florence and Jamie O’Brien, to the Skeleton Coast wave called Donkey Bay or, more colourfully, “The Namibian Rickshaw.”

The popular WSL commentator Strider Wasilewski, who also made the sixty-hour journey from Los Angeles, described it as “the craziest longest most barreling wave ever and a very satisfied, adrenaline filled soul! The freedom of the desert and the beat down of my body, the greatest equalizer ever, thank you surfing. BTW, this wave is really hard to ride and very heavy, I don’t recomend going unless you are in amazing surf shape and an excellent surfer.”

Slater said he destroyed three boards in one session at the joint and when he asked if he enjoyed Donkey Bay said “it donked me yesterday.” 


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Of course, even in his sixth decade Slater remains one of the sport’s best tuberiders, and his form, unsurprisingly, was demonstrably sharp.


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Slater’s record at Teahupoo, meanwhile, is otherworldly, eighteen events for seven finals and five wins with an average…average… heat total of 16.29.


Horror spreads across Maui as out-of-control wildfire devastates historic Lahaina town forcing residents to hurl themselves into ocean


Any surfer with a heart has eyes glued on Maui and the unthinkable devastation happening there now. The Valley Isle, typically a vacation paradise for upper-middle class mainlanders, big wave aficionados and fans of Mtv’s hit 2007 show Maui Fever, has been ravaged by out-of-control wild fires.

Dry winds, spinning off a passing hurricane, quickly whipped flames through western parts of the county including historic Lahaina town which has been burned to the ground along with its port and many neighborhoods.

“It’s a real loss. Hawaii and Maui have tried really hard to preserve and protect those places for many, many years … not for the sake of tourism but because it’s part of our cultural heritage,” Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran declared.

Lahaina was once the Kingdom of Hawaii’s capital.

The fires, catching officials completely by surprise, moved so fast that residents in certain parts of the island became completely cut off and had to hurl themselves into the Pacific in order to survive. Hospitals are currently overwhelmed with burn and smoke inhalation patients with major airlines canceling flights so as not to add to the problem.

“We are already in communication with other hospital systems about relieving the burden – the reality is that we need to fly people out of Maui to give them burn support because Maui hospital cannot do extensive burn treatment,” acting Gov. Sylvia Luke said. “In addition to dealing with disaster, we’re dealing with major transportation issues as well.”

Thus far, six deaths have been reported with the number certain to climb.

Officials are asking residents to conserve water so that firefighters can better battle the blazes and also to stay off the roads to reduce congestion.

“911 is down. Cell service is down. Phone service is down. And that’s been part of the problem,” acting Gov. Luke added.

Those witnessing the carnage are calling it “an apocalypse.”

Truly calamitous.

The American Red Cross is on the ground providing both logistics and shelter. Donate here.