For the first time in 16 years, the best female surfers are set to compete at Teahupo’o.
Women previously competed at Teahupo’o, the infamous reef break in Tahiti whose name roughly translates to “wall of skulls.” But after 2006, surfing’s international federation stopped holding women’s contests at Teahupo’o, citing safety concerns, even though men’s events continued.
“It’s a pretty sexist decision,” Melanie Redman-Carr, who won at Teahupo’o three consecutive times, said in 2006. “If the men can go there, why can’t we? They’re scared about one of us getting badly hurt and having all the bad publicity coming from that.”
To be clear, injuries did happen. But it was the double standard that frustrated the athletes.
Jessi Miley-Dyer, the current World Surf League commissioner, competed at that final women’s Teahupo’o contest in 2006.
“Teahupoo is dangerous but it’s also challenging,” she said after the event was nixed. “Teahupoo has always been one of those waves that’s pushed the boundaries for the girls and that’s what has made it such an important and special stop on the tour for us… I think it’s really important that we still have it.”
It’s unsurprising that it was under Miley-Dyer’s watch that Teahupo’o was added back to the women’s calendar. Originally scheduled to return in 2021, last year’s event was cancelled due to a spike in Covid-19 cases in Tahiti.
“Not gonna lie, I’m a little nervous to be competing at Teahupo’o for the first time,” Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champ Carissa Moore wrote on Instagram. “It’s a very intimidating wave and I have spent [nowhere] near enough time here to feel comfortable. I am most excited for the opportunity to learn, be a part of the women’s return to this iconic wave and hopefully push my comfort level a little bit this week.”
Teapuho’o is also slated to host men’s and women’s surfing at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Located about 9,800 miles from Paris, the beach venue will break the record for farthest medal competition to be held outside the Olympic host city.
The competition window for the 2022 Outerknown Tahiti Pro, the penultimate stop on the 2022 World Surf League Championship Tour, runs from August 11-21, with the current forecast calling for better surf conditions beginning midway through the waiting period.
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