One of the many (admittedly less important) ways that expanding UAV use has revolutionized the ways people live, work, and even play is in providing drone video fans enhanced proximity and angles of surfing. One pilot has now taken that to new heights by giving the world new perspectives into the multi-faceted insanity of Tahiti’s monstrous Teahupo‘o.
There isn’t much known about UAV pilot and film creator Moana Peifer, whose 28 no-text and no-comment offerings on his YouTube channel don’t reveal any information about himself or his aerial hardware. Several of those GoPro and drone videos around Tahiti offer glimpses of himself and family members in beautiful locales – nice, but not enormous click producers.
But others now gaining considerably more attention are his recent drone videos taken above Teahupo‘o – which has been translated “the place of skulls” – and the surfers battling the massive waves, shallow reef below, and mind-blowing swarms of riders, boats, jet skis, and other obstacles that amass around it during big days.
The epic swells that rolled through Teahupo‘o in the past few weeks have been captured by professionals shooting from water level craft. But specialized surfing media and even generalist publications have also discovered and raved about Peifer’s amateur drone videos of the action, which include suitably crafted titles like “TEAHUPOO FEAR.”
Since, as noted, there isn’t any detail we can provide on the drone Peifer piloted to capture the videos – or how he flew the craft to get the viewer close to the surfers pursuing their death wish – we’ll limit this post to what’s in the films. And what they contain, noted surfing site The Inertia, is “Drone Footage From Teahupo’o That Puts Everything in Perspective.”
Start with riders being towed into freakishly thick waves that have no back, making the ocean seem to suddenly drop off between 9 to 25 feet. Incoming swells suck up surrounding water – at times leaving only 20 inches over the razor-sharp reef – which then circles up and arches over surfers in a massive liquid slab that breaks straight down with awesome force.
When cameras in 2000 caught surfing legend Laird Hamilton ride out the collapse of what is still considered the heaviest wave ever ridden at Teacup’o, Surfer magazine’s cover title simple read, “Oh, my, God.” Peifer’s work evokes the same response.
But in addition to similar footage of equally suicidal people daring other terrifying Teahupo‘o rides, Peifer’s recent drone videos also feature oft overlooked hazards of surfing the spot. Those include dozens of boats floating around to capture images or attend to the countless surfers braving the wave – some vessels coming horribly close to being sucked over the top.
Also legion in his drone videos are the jet skis racing to tow surfers into Teahupo’o – in some cases several at the same time, increasing the potential for disaster. Peifer also captures some of those craft rushing in to spirit away wiped-out riders getting seriously worked over by massive sets – and not always managing to outrace those advancing walls of water.
All in all, Peifer’s drone videos represent great examples of how video shooting drones have allowed viewers to get up-close, personal, and impossibly close to people surfing huge, heavy waves – the same way other masters of aerial craft have changed how we view other sports as well.