Maud Le Car’s latest strike mission takes us to the pristine Atolls of French Polynesia where everything appears bright and highly saturated, as she put it – “It’s a magical place far from civilisation where you can embrace the simplicity of life through a blue filter, on a world-class wave that only works during a rare swell direction.”
We caught up with Maud about the whole experience below.
What gave you the inspiration to go to beautiful French Polynesia?
I was in Tahiti with the French Team in preparation for the Olympics to train on the wave in Teahupoo where the games will be held in 2024. After the selection, I decided to go and spend some extra time out in French Polynesia to explore different waves and the Islands in the Atolls.
Have you been there before and if so, how were the trips different from one another?
I’ve been to Tahiti a few times and even more so over the past two years to prepare for the Olympics with the French Team, but it was my first time exploring the islands around Tahiti, and this special trip in the Atolls was totally unplanned as the swell came in last minute, I decided with my boyfriend Joan to jump on a plane to meet up with my good friend Coco Ho in the middle of the pacific to discover this wave that only works during a rare swell direction.
The Atolls are so far from any kind of civilisation, first you must take a one-hour plane ride to Tahiti, then you land on the tiny island where locals can pick you up to do a 45-minute boat trip into the wild ocean, ending up on a coral barrier where there are only 3 guest houses, you basically need to travel with drinking water and food for your entire stay.
How long were you out there, how much time was spent filming the edit?
We were over there for 5-days including the travel, on the first day the swell hadn’t arrived, so the wave wasn’t working yet, then we lucked out and surfed for the next 4 days, it was nonstop perfect rights until departure. So, it worked out well.
What kind of planning and preparation goes into filming a project like this?
It was a super last-minute trip with limited options to get there. We spent the day before the trip on the phone calling and organizing everything because we knew the swell and the waves were on the forecast and looking amazing. We knew from what we were told that it would be worthwhile it to film an edit about this magical place and rarity of a wave.
It looked like you got some amazing waves in very uncrowded conditions – how did you get so lucky?
The place is truly insane, the beauty of the wave, the surroundings and the crystal-clear water is something I have never experienced before, during the swell we only had a few people out there, including my friends and some cool locals who came specifically for the swell because no one lives on the land where the wave breaks. It was honestly the dream of every surfer.
Besides the amazing surfing we saw in the edit, what else did you get up to on the trip – food, lifestyle, any other activities?
At a place like this, you live on Island time, you eat the fish you caught on the day and boil the rice you travelled with on a big fire, there is no electricity or running water and you sleep in beds made on the floor of the main guest house, far from civilisation and technology, we really enjoyed the simplicity of nature and diving around the breath-taking reef, climbing palm trees to collect coconuts and enjoyed spending time with our friends playing “petanque” (bowling) and cards. I really loved the simplicity of life there, reconnecting with nature and basic needs.
Do you have any tips for people who want to make their surf travel more eco-friendly?
I recommend to keep your good habits from home even when you are travelling, such as reusable bottled water, searching where you can buy food in bulk, opting to consume local product such as locally grown fruit or vegetables, try to do your best to limit your plastic waste and after your surf session try to pick up at least 3 pieces of trash you see on your way back, it’s small actions like this done on a daily basis, even on a surf trip that helps makes a difference for a more sustainable and healthier environment.
What other exciting destinations do you have in mind for your future edits or projects?
Now that I have visited the dreamiest Paradise Island in French Polynesia, I have a few spots in mind for the next destination, it’s to go the opposite direction and explore the waves in Ireland or Scotland during the next winter swell.