Inches From Death: Teahupoo Explodes With Ski Shattering Force

In one death defying moment the heaving left hander of Teahupoo has displayed its full lethal potential to the worlds best surfers in town for the Billabong Pro Tahiti serving up monster 5-6m (12-15ft) waves.

As the world's top 45 men and 17 women begun arriving at the small fishing village last night for the greatest surfing show on earth and the third event on the Foster's Men's World Tour, a major pulse in Pacific Ocean energy saw the heaving left hander of Teahupoo (Cheo-poo) live up to its reputation as one of the world's heaviest waves.

In full view of the world's elite including three times world champion Andy Irons (Haw), younger brother Bruce, big wave charger Shane Dorian (Haw) and the surfing paparazzi, Tahitian charger Raimana {{{Van}}} Bastoloer went within an inch of losing his life in one of the most radical surfing near misses ever witnessed.

As the local goofy footer was towed into a 4m (12ft) morning set, his jet ski driver Reef Macintosh (Haw) was caught in the wave lip and unable to pull out, careering the ski directly over the pitching lip and into the path of Van Bastoloae. Pulling into the massive barreling wave, Van Bastoloae ducked at the last second, the abandoned jet ski narrowly missing his head and spearing straight into the shallow reef.

"I saw a black thing out of the side of my eye, I just ducked my head and then I don't know what happened," said Van Bastoloer in his broken English. "I saw this thing going and I was like, where is the guy driving on it, then I saw Reef trying to come up and we lost the ski but good thing I never lost my friend and myself, so it's ok."

Van Bastoloae who is renowned for charging some of the biggest waves ridden at Teahupoo has had is share of close encounters but rates today as the nearest he has been to facing death. Despite the miraculous escape from a certain death Van Bastoloer continued to charge the line-up as the swell built throughout the day to be bordering on unbelievable by sunset.

"It is the heaviest by far, what happened today was the first time and hopefully the last time, no hard feelings, shit happens, you can still replace a jet ski but you can not replace your body."

Irons' was sitting in the channel nearby after witnessing the morning session from the relative safety of a nearby boat. After arriving in Teahupoo late last night, the champ had never towed at the infamous left-hander before and the jet ski incident did little to dent his confidence, going wave for wave with the tight tow pack.

"That was the heaviest thing I have ever seen," said Irons. "My really good friend Reef was actually driving the ski and he jumped off, almost went over the falls and the ski went over Raimana's head, he got barreled by his own ski. It missed his head by about six inches, it was psycho."

"It was crazy, that was the first time I have ever towed out there and it was an amazing experience," said Irons. "The waves weren't ideally perfect, it was a little bumpy but when they came through they were just so thick and heavy it was awesome."

Billabong Pro wildcard Manoa Drollet (Tah) picked off the day's bomb wave which many locals claimed was as big as any ever ridden at Teahupoo before. The Tahitian trials champion enjoyed some heart stopping moments towing in with Irons. The pair will now face each in the same arena in their opening heat of this year's competition.

"I'm definitely feeling like all the jitters have gone," said Irons. "I've got Manoa in my heat and he is the hardest guy in the whole contest so if I get past him I definitely feel like I can get on a roll so I am looking forward to the start of the event."

Dorian, who flew in on the weekly Saturday flight from Hawaii yesterday with 21-year-old tow partner Ian Walsh (Haw), dominated the shifting line-up from the outset. Charging straight into the takeoff zone without waiting for a set, the former WCT surfer scored three huge backside tube rides before anyone else had caught a wave.

"It was awesome out there this morning," said Dorian. "We travel all around the world and we see so many spots, whether it be Waimea Bay, Jaws, Mavericks or Pipeline, we have seen it all in surfing and there is nothing that comes close to this place. It's so far beyond anything else in regards to intensity and power."

Conditions are predicted to ease slightly over night with 2-3m waves expected for the beginning of the official event waiting period from May 5th.

The Billabong Pro Tahiti delivered by Air Tahiti Nui is proudly supported by Von Zipper, Bose, Kustom and The Tahitian Surfing Federation

For the near-disaster and the webcast of the event beginning May 5th, go to BillabongPro.com