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Kauli Vaast Below

Ryan Borne


Behind the Shot

Ryan joined fellow Tahitian Kauli Vaast—two-time European Champion and winner of the Tahiti Pro Trials—in Teahupo’o in late September to shoot some incredible and unique surfing images.

Loosely translated, Teahupo’o means “to sever the head” or “place of skulls.” Teahupo’o is an unforgiving reef break with heavy, powerful waves. The brutal swell, combined with the shallow shoreline, creates conditions that are incredibly dangerous. The waves here have developed a reputation and have been listed on Transworld Surf’s list of the Top 10 Deadliest Waves.

This photo was shot from an impossible angle—looking up at Kauli from below the wave, shooting through the water. “I’ve wanted to take a photograph like this before,” recalls Ryan, “but under these dangerous conditions I have not been able to accomplish it. I had not been photographing underwater for long. Fear and excitement and adrenaline worked together and this shot came about."