Tom Carroll gives tech talk about what works when SUPing Teahupo'o
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 13 August, 2016 - Former world champion Tom Carroll talked recently about his love for SUP and where it has taken him - in this case Teahupo'o.
Tell us about going back to Tahiti last year, and charging Teahupoo on a SUP.
I had a great SUP experience out there, which I never expected. I took a couple of SUP’s over, but wasn’t sure if that would be part of my experience at Teahupoo. It was the first time I’d returned in about 9 years, so earlier on, that was never even a consideration when going to Tahiti, especially Teahupoo. But I had an extraordinary experience. It was a real challenge, and something quite special.
I knew I would be hanging with Raimana (Van Bastolaer), who loves to SUP it. Plus guys like Laird did it, and Poto (Vetea David)… I wanted to see how my Tom Carroll Paddle Surf SUP’s went there, and the little Loose Leaf model went off (laughs). It’s an 8’0”, and actually fit the wave well. I could use the nose of the board to get into the wave real nice.
How big was the surf?
It wasn’t big… 6 feet, but that’s enough (laughs). You’ve got to remember you’re standing up, looking right down into it as you’re taking off, so it seems like you’re going to get sucked up and over. The scary thing is you have all the volume of a bigger board, which tends to create drag, compared to your short board. So there’s more resistance, plus you have this thing in your hands, so you have to be really cognoscente of what you’re doing, and get the paddle out of the way. There were a couple of Brazilian Stand Up Paddle guys there, who were brilliant. Jamie Mitchel was there too, and he knew what he was doing. So there was a bit of crew, and it was good to watch and get a feel for what I wanted to do and where to position myself. It was really a great session.
How many SUP’s did you take to Tahiti?
I took two SUP’s to Tahiti. My 8’0” Loose Leaf plus an 8’0” Haydenshapes test board. SUP’ing the HS board was interesting due to the stark differences between the trusty Loose Leaf, which I know well.
What fin setups did you use?
Both of the boards I used as 2 + 1’s, with the Tom Carroll Paddle Surf single fin in the back. They worked great.
What was your overall impression of SUP’ing Teahupoo?
Firstly, I never thought for a moment I would ever SUP Teahupoo. I was thrown by how popular SUP is by Tahitian surfing Royalty – Raimana/Poto who love hitting it when its solid with their paddle – this drew me into the adventure and challenge of trying to fit my boards and skill into Teahupoo’s acute curves. So getting to the answer; I was very intimidated at the idea and practice, even on the relatively clean smaller days I used SUP. I love the access into the wave and found the Loose Leaf, with its fine rail entry and over all clean thinner rail line more predictable, and an easier fit.
Did you get a chance to SUP elsewhere in Tahiti?
Yes, we surfed further around the reefs from Teahupoo to the south, a left that had more opportunity to move around.
You surfed while there too. Which sessions stood out most?
I surfed probably 60-70% on a normal shortboard. Unfortunately, the Mara mu’u (meaning, south winds in winter months mostly – cold and not preferable at Teahupoo) had come in with rain. Raimana had organized his boatman for me while I stayed on, and I ended up doing a solo session in a messy, mixed up short period 6-8’ Teahupoo. After some time getting used to my nerves again, I found some waves, and relaxed into some wild beauties…I reckon any solo session there will last in the memory banks forever.
Where else have you SUP’ed around the world, and what board specs do you lean towards?
I have SUP surfed just about everywhere, from Europe, the USA – East and West coasts, plus Hawaii, NZ, Indo – Roti, Sumatra, Java & Bali…
My favorite all rounder for SUP surf is the Long Grain 10’4″. She’ll ride with ease from tiny ripples to head high walls. The Loose Leaf 8’0″ has brought me a lot of joy when I am inspired to pursue more critical glides with a paddle in in my hand.