When Raimana called Laird, he was preparing to head for Kauai for his first foil session of the season, with an early north swell on the forecast.
But Raimana wanted him down in Tahiti to enjoy the biggest south swell so far this year and to help promote French Polynesia at the same time ! Hard to refuse such an invitation !
Raimana has been the ambassador for Tahiti Tourism these last few years and a local campaign to promote tourism with the local population is in full force. Who else represents better the Polynesian spirit of 'aloha' than Raimana taking care of his surfer friends around Teahupoo.
After 11 time world champion Kelly Slater and Jeremy Flores a few weeks ago during the Billabong Pro, now it's the other high-profile surfing athlete Laird Hamilton who will get the royal treatment in Raimana's amazing World.
Laird arrived with cinematographer Sonny Miller equipped with the Red Epic to capture all the action.
They started off with a Stand up Paddle warm-up session right in front of Raimana's house at Papara. The outside bommie was on fire with 8'+ lefts and rights; a perfect size to test Laird's new boards with the upcoming launch of his new Stand Up Paddle line with boardmaker Nidecker.
Outrigger and Sup champion George Cronstadt and Teahupoo Master Manoa Drollet joined them for a all Stand up session.
After a break and copious serving of "poisson cru" prepared by Raimana's wife Yvanne we headed for a last session at the Papara 'Maoti' before heading off to Raimana's World down near Teahupoo.
The next morning blue skies and perfect size surf for stand up paddle was on show at the end of the road. The swell was fairly south and long open tubes were on offer.
Raimana and Laird waited and picked 2 waves each and got as deep as you can get on a Sup. It was time to leave some waves to the packed line up of bodyboarders and shortboarders, so we headed down south beyond the end of the road cruising by a group of humpback whales.
The right was epic and uncrowded as usual. Laird and Raimana were like kids at Disneyland. As the swell picked up they switched to their tow in boards. Local Papara surfer Nicolas Lee Tham started to tow Laird onto a few massive blue gems. At Teahupoo the swell was taking some time to kick in. Although some big sets rolled in late in the afternoon the swell only really peaked during the night. We could hear to surf thump all night and it looked like there was still some leftovers the next morning.
It was great to see all the young local Tahitian crew out in the line up and standing their ground. The visiting professionals might have to compose in years to come with a new generation of local kids that finally head down to Teahupoo when the beast turns on.
Raimana caught the bomb of the swell and shortly after Laird hit the reef on his last wave cutting his foot and right arm. Can't leave Tahiti without a Tahitian tattoo as a souvenir!
Raimana handled the lemon and betadine ritual.
Time for everyone to pack, quick dinner at the Blue Banana at Taapuna before checking in to the Air Tahiti Nui flight for L.A.
Raimana World is closing down for a week. A few days holiday in California with his happy wife and daughter.
Special Thanks to all the Raimana World crew:
House: Yvanne , Ranihei and Léo.
Boats: Eric Labaste, Pedro Lanteres.
Jetskis: Nicolas Lee Tham, Gen, Baptiste and Eric (rescue)
Film crew : Sonny Miller, Marc-Antoine Bouvant , Gilles Hucault.