12 Olympic Hopefuls Get Acquainted With Teahupo'o - Stab Mag
Photo by Javi Postigo

12 Olympic Hopefuls Get Acquainted With Teahupo’o

The ISA is not fucking around.

elsewhere // Jul 21, 2023
Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Surfing in the 2024 Olympics will be held at Teahupo’o, Tahiti.

While most fans are enthralled by the prospect of eight-foot orbs determining our medalists, critics have claimed many of the less-established surfing nations will likely be fielding surfers who have no experience in waves of truth.

The ISA has now offered a lovely solution to this glaring possibility.

“Together with Olympic Solidarity, we’re doing a Teahupo’o training camp,” ISA Marketing and Media Manager Federico Ferroni tells us. “We’re doing one now, and one after the World Surfing Games in 2024. It’s basically to give athletes who have qualified for the Olympics, or are really close to qualifying like Alan Cleland, a chance to train at Teahupoo. We’re not bringing any of the CT surfers, just people who haven’t really had a chance to get experience surfing waves like this.

“We’re working with Michel Bourez and Tereva David and a group of coaches there. This time, we did two separate groups of six, because we didn’t want to overcrowd it. We paid for accommodations, the coaches, the boat, the jet skis, the filmers. We covered some of the tickets, and the countries’ Olympic federations covered some of the tickets. It’s something we felt we needed to do, because all of the qualifiers are in places that aren’t as heavy as Teahupo’o.”

Smile if you just got a free surf trip to Tahiti.

The above clip is from the first group of six, and the entire list of surfers included is as follows:

Group 1 (July 1-7):

  • Alan Cleland (MEX)
  • Bryan Perez (ESA)
  • Candelaria Resano (NCA)
  • Saffi Vette (NZL)
  • Shino Matsuda (JPN

Group 2: (July 11-18):

  • Billy Stairmand (NZL)
  • Cody Young (CAN)
  • Lucca Mesinas (PER)
  • Sol Aguirre (PER)
  • Leilani McGonagle (CRC)                              
  • Tiara van der Huls (NED)

Reportedly, ISA World Games winner Al Cleland Jr, El Salvador wildcard Bryan Perez, and Shino Matsuda were clear standouts.

“It was crazy, the first time they told me that I might be going I couldn’t believe it,” Perez tells me. “A week before the flight they sent me an email telling me to get my boards ready, and the local guys from there told me the waves were going to be fun. For me, it was a dream come true because I’ve always watched the videos and the CT events. I always wanted to feel that power, I’m super happy. Every day, waking up there I was so grateful.”

Despite an Instagram boasting exclusively Punta Roca clips, Bryan’s backhand tube technique is surprisingly exquisite. Photo by Tim McKenna

As for Byran’s heavy water experience, he says he has very little.

“I surfed Pipe a couple of times before, but didn’t get very many waves. This was the first time I’ve ever got a lot of good heavy waves in a session. It was amazing to share with the locals, they treated me like a brother. I think that made it more special. Some people can surf small waves but not big waves, and this was my chance to see how I would do. I’m glad I got this training. Tereva David was telling us where to sit, and how deep you can get, which was super valuable. One of the best surf trips I ever did in my life, it’s an incredible place. Everybody on the boat was super supportive of each other, everyone was shouting each other into waves.”

Though Bryan has yet to qualify for the Olympics, he will have a chance to qualify in Puerto Rico next year, at the ISA’s heaviest World Games venue yet. As for Al, unless Rio Waida somehow surpasses Jordy Smith in Tahiti in August, it looks as though Mr. Cleland Jr. will be bringing Mexican surfing to the Olympics.


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