Breaking Away for the Clean, Crisp Waves in Tahiti

After returning from two weeks in Tahiti, a place where reef waves are clean and crisp and Tahitian hospitality is alive and well, I learned that Rockin' Fig is headed to the U.S. amateur championships in Florida!

Fig: Yeah, the kid got lucky, that's all I can say. But I'm looking forward to surfing Sebastian Inlet in Florida during Thanksgiving week. The contest will have all the top seeds from the West, Gulf, and East coasts, in addition to Hawaii. But, hey! How was the trip?

Beautiful. I stayed in a place called Papara, and surfed a beach break near the Taharu river mouth where the surf was from four to six feet. Crystal clear ocean water. Black-sand beaches. And, on several occasions, I paddled out to a reef break about a half-mile from shore.

Ahhh, you got away from the rat race huh?

Yes. No smog. Plenty of beautiful stars at night. And, I got to stay with a Tahitian family. My host was Christophe Holozet, president of Popoti Surf Club--Tahiti's No. 1 surfing group. The trip was set up through the Laguna Beach-based Kalos Kagathos Foundation as a cultural exchange with about 23 young men and women from Southern California. The coach was pro surfer Jim Hogan from San Clemente. He also coaches the National Scholastic Surfing Assn. team.

The Tahitian surfers were hot. They took most of the top places for the "Horue '94" contest, except two Australians took juniors and cadets. In longboard, I saw Teva Noble, Tahiti's 1992 amateur world champion, and Michel Demont, another Tahitian who won the world championship in Brazil this year.

I met Emere David, world pro surfer Vetea David's mom. A gracious lady, she lives in Papeete, which is about 35 miles away, but every day she visited the contest. She's also a healer--like our physical therapists in the U.S., but she uses relaxation and touches the body's stress points. Several of the U.S. team members had a session with her and came away feeling "better and energized."

Was her son there?

No, she said he was at Reunion Island surfing in a competition.

Say Reyes, did you have to take your shoes off, like they do in Hawaii?

Yup, that's a big deal in Tahiti. I mistakenly walked in with my shoes on the first day and Holozet's wife, Moea, gave me a dead-eye stare.

Fig, they said Tom Curren, former three-time world champion, had been to Tahiti two weeks earlier. He got smacked on a reef on nearby Huahine Island and left immediately after getting scraped up.

Hey, it could happen to anybody. What did you eat?

Lots of fish, which is high on their diet. I was drinking beer one night and woke up early the next morning expecting an egg or maybe a pancake, and they had this big plate of fried fish. It took some getting used to, but their fish is excellent; it's sweet and delicious.

Yeah, brain food. How much did the trip cost?

About $700. The deal with the exchange was that each person pay $150 to their host family for food. The families were incredible. Gracious and friendly and they are so anxious to learn about California. I could have stayed in a hotel but it wouldn't have been the same.

Sounds like you met some nice people, and learned some of their culture too.

And, it's expensive there. A six-pack of beer costs about $10, and a pack of U.S. cigarettes, $5. Gasoline was $5 a gallon. So, it was good to keep the costs down.

Trip tip: Surfers should take plenty of mosquito repellent, and netting is a good idea. They sell mosquito coils, which you light each evening to ward off the flying blood-sucking devils, but beware, the coil smoke is potent. And, remember, "thank you" in Tahitian is "mauruuru," pronounced ma-rue-rue .


Fame: The results of the Huntington Beach Walk of Fame balloting are in. The winners and their categories as determined by surf journalists, prominent surfers and industry representatives are: Robert August, local hero; Tom Blake, surf pioneer; Mark Richards, surfing champion; Bruce Brown, surfing culture, and Joyce Hoffman, women's champion. The late Duke Kahanamoku, also known as the "Father of Surfing," is an automatic inductee. The first installation ceremony of granite stars along a Main Street sidewalk will be held in front of Jack's Surf Shop in Huntington Beach at 10 a.m. on Aug. 4. Organizers said Richards has accepted an invitation to attend and they are trying to get the Duke's widow to attend.

Contests: Hawaiian Sunny Garcia won the Reunion Island surf contest off South Africa. Held July 10.

Tidbit: Doheny Longboard Surfing Assn. awarded a $400 scholarship to Geoff Moysa of San Clemente. Moysa, the U.S. Surfing Federation junior longboard champion, attends Saddleback Community College and works at Stewart Surf Shop in San Clemente.

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