Kelly Slater at Teahupoo

If Kelly Slater makes the 2024 Olympics at Teahupo’o, he says he’ll hang up the jersey. He still has a long road to qualify. Photo: WSL

The Inertia

The surfing world rejoiced when Tahiti was selected to host the surfing for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Teahupo’o during the peak swell season is clearly going to be a better show than the doldrums of a summertime French beachbreak.

But beneath the celebration there was skepticism that all the surfers who qualify for Paris 2024 through the World Surfing Games would be capable of handling the power of Teahupo’o. 

In March of this year Sam George echoed this sentiment in an opinion article on The Inertia.

“…the Olympics could be faced with the truly unique spectacle of presenting Olympic athletes competing in an event in which they have absolutely no experience,” said George. “Because make no mistake: very few of the world’s surfers are capable of surfing 20-to-30 foot Teahupo’o. And none became so by surfing in ISA qualifying heats.”

One can speculate if the event would actually run with the treacherous nature of 20-30 foot Teahupo’o, but, apparently, George’s opinion was shared by others. 

For the next two weeks in Tahiti the ISA is holding a training camp for surfers who have already qualified, or have a strong chance to qualify, to prepare athletes for the globally broadcast, real deal next year.

The event is the first of its kind and could set a precedent for future editions of the Games. 

The ISA announced that two waves of athletes that will come to Teahupo’o between July 1-16 to train.

Group 1 (July 1-7):

Alan Cleland (MEX)

Bryan Perez (ESA)

Candelaria Resano (NCA)

Saffi Vette (NZL)

Shino Matsuda (JPN)

Group 2 (July 10-16):

Billy Stairmand (NZL)

Cody Young (CAN)

Lucca Mesinas (PER)

Sol Aguirre (PER)

Leilani McGonagle (CRC)

Tiara van der Huls (NED)

“Athletes with less experience in this heavy world class wave are out in the water as a training opportunity for Paris 2024 Olympic Games,” the ISA explained in an Instagram post. 

The camp, which is supported by Olympic Solidarity, is being led by local Tahitian pro surfer Tereva David to help the athletes get a feel for the famous left-hand reef pass. 

Of the eleven surfers selected for the camp, Saffi Vette, Shino Matsuda, and Billy Stairmand have already earned their Olympic slots via the 2023 World Surfing Games. 

Alan Cleland, Bryan Perez, Candelaria Resano, Cody Young, Sol Aguirre, and Leilani McGonagle will all soon get a chance to qualify for Paris 2024 in October when the Pan American Games take place at Punta de Lobos, Chile.

By the looks of Instagram stories the athletes have been welcomed by solid, overhead tubes. It doesn’t appear that there are any XXL swells on the way during the window, but there will be plenty of solid days in the eight to 10-foot range. 


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