"A Big Cave of Salt Water": Behind Tumu Taera's MM Cover

Photo: Manea Fabisch

Photo: Manea Fabisch

We’re not trying to brag here… but we’re pretty fucking happy with the cover of our latest issue. Trawling through thousands of images to find the one that best represents the issue’s theme as well as a frame that is endowed with all those attributes one looks for in well-executed photograph can be a daunting task. But we’re stoked with the result (both of them). 

In particular, we’re elated to have Tahitian rider Tumu Taera gracing page one of our humble production. Riders from around the world have been paying increasing attention to this young man in recent times as several sessions at Tahiti’s monolithic break have proven his ability in the heavy stuff. Serving as particularly aesthetically pleasing evidence of this was a frame from Ben Thouard - an image that on many wavelengths represents all that we look for in a cover photo but importantly, one that also projects an image for the future of bodyboarding. As Taera recounted for us, this "big cave of salt water” is quickly proving to be a sign of the youthful Tahitian’s promising career. 

We caught up with Taera for the story of his most famous wave to date as well as an insight into island life and his boog-inspiration. 

Movement: Firstly, can you tell us a bit about your upbringing? What’s it like growing up in Tahiti and how were your first experiences in the ocean?

Tumu: I Grow up in  Punaauia , on the West coast  of Tahiti. My dad was a surfer and also a good fisherman so I was always in the water. He taught me many things important to know about the ocean: to always becareful and respectful. He gave me my first experiences in the ocean and it was the best thing that hapenned in my life. I felt an attraction for this element and it became something I really needed everyday like a drug. I had this chance to live close to Sapinus, where I spent all my childhood and where the waves are really good for bodyboarding. At 16 years old I decided to focus on bodyboard with a group of friends, we were always competitives in the water, training on flips, spins and all the basic move, going out in big conditions inspired by the Tahitian legends; it really helped me to improve my bodyboarding.

Photo: Manea Fabisch

Photo: Manea Fabisch

How did it feel to see yourself on the cover of Movement? Can you take us through the experience of paddling into that wave?

To see myself on the cover of the movement magazine is just unbelievable for me. It was one of my biggest dream and maybe the dream of many bodyboarders around the world. I’m proud to show the potential of the new generation of tahitian bodyboarders.  At the begining of this year, I had the goal to catch some big waves and to push myself beyond the limits.  I was waiting impatiently for the swells, checking everyday the forecast until this day came. Arriving late and missing the morning session with my Canarian friend Pablo, everybody were out of the water looking at the pictures and the videos, the wind and the waves were bad and it was moving a lot. 

I was so angry that we had missed it but half an hour later after a little rain came the wind stopped and everything came back to make it perfect again; waves blowin up and after I saw a few spit I asked JBS to bring me to the spot with his jet ski. Many Tahitian surfers were in the water and foreigners too, peoples were really hungry to catch bombs and nobody on the west bowl cause the bombs came more in the inside. I remember seeing this massive blue wall coming from nowhere. I was at the best place to catch it, I decided to not paddle up just waiting down trying to be at the right place for the take off. When I started to paddling down, I was like "ok don’t look back and just go”. I felt the adrenaline pushing me, paddling hard like never before, and I heard Alvino  and Heiarii shouting at me  "GOOOOO, GOOOO TUMUU!!!” Looking down I saw all the water sucking over the reef, I was really focused. I grabbed my board and started to take off. One of the scariest moments of my ride was getting a little drop but I landed it and stayed focused on my line, kept it the best as I can, arrived at the bottom put my leg in the water for not losing my line, and then I’ve seen this big cave of salt water surrounded me. It was the vision of my life - just a few second that I will never forget. Dream come true! 

What is the bodyboarding scene like in Tahiti at the moment and how is that influenced when the tourists turn up for a big day Teahupoo? 

The bodyboard scene in Tahiti is very new. New heads are coming, many young talented riders push their self on big air and bombs like Alann Poilvet, Kirahu Thibault and many others but on big days there are not many local bodyboarders. A lot of tourist came here looking for the show or surfing in Teahupoo. Many boats and all the best photographers are here too. It give us a chance to get some pictures and video on a big day and it allow us to put ourselves foward on the international scene, gives us an opportunity to get sponsors and all.

Speaking of. Which sponsors are you working with at the moment and has anyone been particularly kind to you in helping you out? 

At the moment I’m working with Niko Richard who give me the chance to surf for Versus Bodyboard. So stoked to ride with this brand who welcomed the best rider of all the time. I’m also with Stealth fins and some locals brand like Sapinus prone and JBS and also my friend Manea Fabish a very good photographer and cameraman. I would like to thank all of those for the support; esspecially Niko Richard for the boards and all also those guys without whom this would never happen. The talented Ben thouard who has captured this unforgetable moment of my life, the legend Ben player and all the guys who work on it. Thank you everyone! Maururu roa.

Photo: Tumu Taera

Photo: Tumu Taera

Who are your bodyboarding heroes and who/what are you inspired by at the moment? 

I was really inspired by Ben player, Ryan Hardy and Pierre when I was young but my bodyboarding heroes are still the Tahitians legends. Angelo Faraire, John Duval, Tahurai Henry, and all the SAP Boys were my first inspiration. I‘m pasionate and inspired by big waves. I love the sensation it gives me. 


What are your goals with bodyboarding - both competitively and personally? 

Never enough!!! Next year we will hopefuly have more huge condition for pushing our limits and maybe start to tow in on some monsters and push the tahitian bodyboard on the next level. My bodyboarding goal is to bring up the bodyboard in Tahiti and push the new generation on it; to make sure that Tahitian bodyboarding never dies!! I would like to says a big thanks to Movement magazine - you realized my dream! I dedicated this to all my family, all my friends and all the French Polynesia, for my cousin Brice Taerea who lost his life at Teahupoo. 

And my last word for the new generation: Dream big because everything is possible!