We’ve all been there. You see a big set wave approaching that looks like it’s going to break way out the back. You paddle toward it simply trying to make it over. You sneak a quick duck dive as it passes until suddenly you’re going up. Your stomach is suddenly in your throat as you’re weightless, flipping, and suddenly you’re pile-driven into the water. You’re held under for seconds that feel like an eternity, and then you surface gasping for air.
Suffice it to say, going over the falls isn’t fun. But the experience when your local is a touch or two overhead pales in comparison to going over the falls during a set at Teahupo’o that looks like the entirety of the Pacific Ocean is trying to swallow every man, mother, and child whole.
You may have seen the video above making headlines of late. As it happens, it was captured by none other than Aaron Lieber – the man behind the recent Bethany Hamilton biopic Unstoppable that’s quite good. Anyway, media reports focused on the size of the wave and the panic and terror it surely induced in the lineup. But, somehow reports bypassed the moment at the 15-second mark when a renegade surfer proceeds to ditch his board and dive as deep as he can only to get caught up in a swirling, cavernous Tahitian beast that couldn’t have possibly ended well.
We reached out to Lieber for commentary on this wave. He tells us the man in this most unfortunate position did indeed survive. May we recommend that someone please buy him a cold beer?