Local Tahitian and Starboard rider, Tama Audibert, snatched 2nd place in arguably the world’s largest SUP surf event. Tama’s smooth style and paddlework, along with big hits on the west bowl took him from an unknown rider to seeing off almost every top athlete in the league. We have caught up with Tama to find out how he prepare himself for another thrilling year on the Stand Up World Tour.
Tama, the first SUP event you entered was in Tahiti -010 where you ended up on a 2nd place. Being a Tahitian local, did you have any idea of how big this event was?
Well, I could guess that the events of the World Tour would be quite big, as I was following the previous events (Hawaii and France 2010) via the internet…But what I didn’t expect when it came to Tahiti, was the great scale the event took as the wave conditions were really insane and the athletes were all incredible during the contest !!!
Have you ever competed in anything before? If so, in what and for how long?
I only did local competitions in shortboard for 3 years, then longboard for about 3 years and now SUP surf and race for 4 years now…The only time I got to do an international competition was during the ISA longboard world championships 2008 in Costa Rica where I was selected to be part of the Tahitian Team.
When did you start SUP?
I started SUP about 4 years ago and was a former longboarder…
What is so special about this sport?
To me, it represents a complete watersport as you can utilize the paddle and get to surf at the same time!! And being a Polynesian waterman, paddling and surfing is part of our lifestyle, so when SUP came up, it was like a revelation…
Tell us about your quiver?
9’8”x29” and 9’1”x29” Carbon Pro, 8’5”x30” Pocket Rocket Blue Touch, 10’3” Gun Pro, and currently receiving a 8’5”x29” Pro in Silver, 8’5”x29” Carbon Pro, 12’6” Carbon Race, 14’ coast runner..
What attributes are you looking for in a board?
I usually look for boards that are easy to maneuver, that can have a quick response to the kind of waves I get to surf…and perhaps a board that can easily adapt (according to my weight – 97 kg) to the different wave conditions found in beach or reef breaks …
What about the paddle, does it matter if the shaft is stiff or soft -or the blade big or small?
I’d rather have a soft shaft and small blade they’re great for Races and the opposite for Paddle surfing…
What about the Tahitian community, how do they see Stand Up Paddling?
I think that this sport is really increasing fast with Tahitians now, just as for the rest of the world… It’s already quite easy to get hooked on it…As it is a great way to cruise on the ocean or just stay fit and improve your balance! And also as most of the people here in Tahiti, enjoy surf and outrigger canoe races; Stand up Paddling is just the perfect blend of those two sports! Nowadays you can see more and more professional paddlers and former shortboard or longboarders hooked on SUP now!!
Is there a difference between the surfing community and the SUP community?
Not really… to my opinion, we’re ALL watermen and have the same values in our sport which is oceanmenship…
Right now you are in your second year of the Waterman League’s World Tour, have you noticed any difference in the organization, media attention or the participants from one year to the other?
Well, it seems like the Waterman League’s World Tour is becoming more and more important as there will be more stops this year compared to last year, and also more and more participants after each event…And Tristan Boxford and his team really do a great job for the success of all the events also…
What is your next stop?
Currently my next stop will be the “Battle of Paddle Race in Hawaii” in May and then going back home for the Watermen league “Sapinus pro-Tahiti” at the end of the month of May and for the rest of the Tour, I will be doing : Chili, Brazil, California, Australia, and lastly the “Big Island” (according to the tour’s update)…
How do you prepare yourself for an event?
Just before an important event, I just try to chill out and stay focused on my goals as much as I can…
I usually don’t drink (after the event…YES just a bit!! Ha), I don’t smoke at all, and when I’m at home,
I try to do cross training between Paddle surfing, racing, cycling and some strength training…
Do you listen to any particular music before an event?
I like to listen to some good old reggae or techno depending on my energy levels…
We are now only a couple of months away from the Tahiti event, does people talk a lot about it back home?
Yeah…Everybody seems really excited to have another edition here in Tahiti! As apart from the Billabong Pro surfing competition taking place each year in Teahupoo,
I think that the “Watermen League Stand up World Tour” stop in Sapinus, is becoming one of the most important international events taking place in Tahiti now!!! And the Sapinus surf spot is still a quite preserved from all the international exposure at the moment..But not for long… As it’s a really awesome wave!!!
Will we see more local talents this year?
Hopefully Yes, and to tell you the truth…watch out for the younger ones!!!
Who do you think will be 2011 World Champion?
Hhmm…Can’t ask me that question…Of course, I would say ME!!! Ha,ha.. ;0)
(Well honestly, I will try my best to get there!!!)
…And if I don’t get the chance this year, well I guess it will be “the athlete” that has the best skills and technique for small AND big wave conditions…But most of all, for everyone joining the Tour, having fun and just ripping on the waves and sharing great experiences with people from around the globe is what counts in the end…
Yeah…I just want to dedicate everything I do – to my wife V. and my daughter .
And most of all: SEND A HUGE THANKS TO STARBOARD (Svein, Margareta and the Team) for their continuous GREAT SUPPORT and for giving me this great opportunity to travel around the world by promoting my passion: SUP!
Thanks a lot Tama, we wish you the Best of luck!