Stab Magazine | Which Would You Prefer, Cloudy or Chopes?
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Which Would You Prefer, Cloudy or Chopes?

Let Dane G, Nathan Florence, and the rest of the Vans team help you decide in ‘Blue Intensity’. 

cinema // Jun 20, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Fiji’s Cloudbreak and Tahiti’s Teahupo’o are undoubtedly the dual gems of the South Pacific. 

While both waves are lefts that hurl cobalt chunks over a shallow reef, their similarities end right there. 

Cloudbreak is more of a reefy point, with a fairly easy takeoff at the top which then grows into a heaving tube. After the first major section, the wave offers a canvas for several giant turns, before barreling again and typically closing out on the fin-scraping shiskabob section. 

Cloudbreak also has a second and third reef, which start to break as the swell increases in size. Even when it’s massive, Cloudbreak is considered “paddle-able” due to its relatively sloped entry. Some waves, however, can only be towed. 

Meanwhile, Teahupo’o is a bona fide slab. Coming out of extremely deep water, South Pacific swells unleash their fury on Teahupo’o’s deathly shelf, which causes the wave to lurch and dramatically steepen before breaking. What makes Teahupo’o work is its deep channel at the end of the shelf, which allows surfers to escape the tube unscathed. Teahupo’o’s barrel is short and offers no second or third section, but due its drop and thickness is considered a more intense ride. 

When an XXL swell meets the Tahitian coast, there is no second or third reef for Teahupo’o to break on. Rather than growing vertically, Teahupo’o becomes thicker and thicker as the swell increases in size, making the wave tow-only in certain circumstances (as demonstrated by Dane Gudang and Nate Florence in a few of the waves above). 

In terms of “ride difficulty”, the jury is still out. 

Teahupo’o is a much harder drop and is typically petrifying due to how quickly it lurches, but once you pull in you’re almost guaranteed to come out.  The best waves at Teahupo’o look like closeouts, but they almost never do. 

Cloudbreak offers an easier takeoff but is quite difficult to master with its wash-through sets and hard-to-read sections. The best waves at Cloudbreak look like closeouts, and quite often they do.

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