The late afternoon drop Matahi had to make.
On the last day of 2019 Matahi Drollet’s caught a wave that has to be the best shorebreak wave ever ridden. Caught at the North Shore’s Ke Iki beach, the beach made famous by Clarke Little, the wave was both under-reported and undervalued. The only footage of the 15-foot plus wave available of the Tahitian tube slayer was captured just before dark by Barron Mamiya and the grainy iPhone clip doesn’t do it justice.
“The beach I grew up at Mataiea had this black sand shorebreak that we used to surf every day,” Matahi Drollet told Tracks. “So when I saw Ke Iki, it was just like that, just much bigger.”
On New Year’s Eve 2019 the Eddie had been put on yellow alert. Matahi had surfed Ke Iki in the morning, but in the afternoon the swell pulsed. After scoping maxed out Sunset and Pipe, he returned to check Ke Iki from his friend’s house right in front. On dark, a few giant waves reared up that he thought were makeable. He grabbed an old 7’4”, donned an inflatable life vest at the very last minute, and made his way through the packed beach of sunset watchers and beer drinkers.
On his first wave he hit the bottom hard and realised there was no sand. The new swell had washed it away leaving exposed reef and the vest had saved him from certain injury. “My friend Makana Pang was out on a softboard with no vest and I was screaming to him, ‘Don’t go! It’s all rock, we gotta get the fuck outta here.’” Matahi said.
However one of the vagaries of this shore break is that so much water rushes back from the bank that often it is impossible to swim the short few metres to dry sand. Matahi’s board had also been spat out back into the deep water beyond the shorey. And so with 15 minutes until dark, Matahi had little option but to catch a wave. It was then that he heard the whistles from the beach signalling the biggest set of the day.
“The first one had a little entry point, so I just went,” he says. “I knew there was rocks underneath, but I made the drop, pulled in and managed not to hit the bottom. I took another ten waves on the head and made it back to the sand just as the sun went down.”
Now this wasn’t done for the cameras. Apart from regular beachgoers and his mates there wasn’t anyone around. Mamiya’s footage is the only proof of what was one of the more remarkable waves ridden that winter, or any winter. Was it the best shorey ever ridden? Well, if there is a better one out there, we’d like to see it.
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