A nice little boat ride to begin with. “Yeeew, its beautiful here kids, isn’t it? Bahahahaha…”
“There isn’t any other waves beside Chopes here, is there?” says Owen sniggering through in his post trip interview. “I mean I can talk about going somewhere else and Searching, but we’re not really doin’ it are we?” The Big O first came to Tahiti with Rip Curl when he was 16 and immediately fell in love with the world’s heaviest left. “I have had this idea in my head since then that I wanted to surf this wave. I want to conquer it, paddle it at its rawest and biggest.”
“My own Search is really for barrels and that was box ticked when we got here! And also surfing great waves with friends and family, it sounds normal, but being on tour, that’s something out of the ordinary for me.”
The Animal, in his domain and taking the kind of little dive we reserve for the local beachbreak. Does the word comfortable come to mind?
In the first few days, Owen kept up the friendly charade. “Oh look, it’s soooo nice, kids… A rainbow… Yeeew! Just like a postcard… Bahahahaha...”
“I was a little bit scared with the swell that was coming,” reflects Tyler. “In fact, I thought: it’s very bad! Nah, I just wanted to rock up and see it hitting it, see it for what it is and not think too much about it and get out there. I thought that will be cool and a good way to approach it. I trusted that I could learn quickly and not die. Would be nice… ha ha… would be appreciated.”
It took a little time for that appreciation to happen, but the kid persevered taking a few doughnuts early. “Owen’s gunna push me over the ledge, we all know that’s gunna happen,” says Ty, “Last time he did it at P-Pass I thought he’d stitched me up big time, but I ended up getting the best wave of my life.”
“Going on these trips I would only trust one person and that would be Owen. I know how good he is and how well he can read a situation or even anticipate it before it happens. I just love the way he is fearless.” Ty, locked in and no way out on a good one that Owen saved especially for her.
With the Spice Island Slam out of the way, Ty found time to bang a few different waves to round out the experience. “Searching for me is randomly ending up in cool places with cool people. Travelling in a boat, by car, by plane or by all three (at once!) to places you’ve just seen on video or not seen at all makes life more vibrant. And the waves are almost always better than anything you’ve seen. It’s rejuvenating. It’s what we did growing up. It didn’t matter what we found, just as long as we went and did something.”
Louie Hynd is fast becoming the face of The Search. He’s available 24/7 and he’s keen to pack up and go. He’s a true anywhere, anytime guy. With a North Shore season at the Rip Curl Pipeline House under his belt in 2014 – he has been in some big raw lefts – and this one had him pumped…
“The moment when you see the waves and you’re with your mates, you just start frothing up, so excited that it has all come together and you’re just getting out there and having a ball.”
“After surfing pumping waves for a few days, Owen and Tyler had to go home to prepare for the next World Tour event,” says Louie, picking up The Search where the WSL Tour Rats left off. “But I had nothing on my plate so we checked the maps and we found a remote atoll that looked like it had potential for a left reeling in off a reef pass.”
Strangely, the power of four came into effect on this leg of the Slam: “It was a mission to get to. Four flights. From there we got told it was a 45 minute boat ride that turned in to a four hour open ocean journey through four foot of chop.”
And finally on land after four hours of battering seas, he was none the wiser about what would come next. (But at least he had a cool hat…)
That night, preparing for the morning light. Will it be flat, will it be onshore or will it be pumping?
Next morning and still a long paddle from the point, Louie had several obstacles to cross before his reward unveiled. “Once we finally got there it was a paddle over a river with schools of fish and sting rays and sharks. It got a little freaky but it just shows how untouched this place is – and hopefully it will be like that forever. (Note to Rip Curl: probably don’t send Mick Fanning there… like… ever.)
Does the name Steve Irwin ring a bell?
Flipping inside, four foot lefts, no one else around, crystal water, mind surfing tubes, ace photographer Teddy Grambeau made him stop the froth and pose for a few lineup shots. A ridiculous concept in itself…
Even got a lift to the lineup! Lone Wolf about to attack.
“It’s perfect. The take off is good and then you just set up for the barrel. Every wave is a barrel. It let’s you in and you control the speed and stay slotted as long as you like. And then it let’s you out.”
Tucked up high and eyeing who knows what, a new wave with no reference, no pre-conceived approach, no video memory bank to corrupt his line, Louie was free to flow.
Putting his rail game into full effect Louie learned all the sections of the wave over an 8 hour long solo session. “I hope this wave will stay this way – hard to get – and it will be for those who want to Search for it and put the effort in to find waves by themselves.”
The bottom contour exposed… Make of it what you will… Find it if you can.
“Going off the beaten track exploring new waves and finding perfect empty waves to yourselves, that’s livin’ The Search to me…” Amen.

There’s an old saying that goes: “Before you get the princess, you have to slay the dragon”… In this story Louie Hynd finds his own princess of a left with only him and the sea life to share it with, but not before he slayed the dragon that is Teahupo’o with brother and sister combo Owen and Tyler Wright. We kick off in the jaws of the beast with Owen in full attack mode…

So when time came to lead his younger sister Tyler and even younger goofy Luke Hynd on The Search to the Spice Islands – he jumped at the chance to put them in the zone. But with Teahupo’o 10 foot-plus and pounding what chance did Ty and Louie have of avoiding the slam and getting Owen to move off reef to a new Search location? None at best…

“The swell popped up for Chopes, and we were planning to go somewhere else Searching, but I really wanted to come here. Three days over 10 feet? I just couldn’t say no to it,” confirmed Owen, taking the crew to the edge as the following chapter attests…