It’s possibly the most seen PWC wipeout ever. Now here’s the story behind it:
The year was 2005 and an epic swell hit the island of Tahiti. Surfers from around the world descended on a crazy wave that sits below sea level and breaks over a sharp deadly reef. Called Teahupo’o, it’s literally at the “end of the road.” Surfers come from around the world to charge the heavy swell that made its way to infamous surf spot, many of them had experienced or witnessed many heavy wipeouts, none like the one you’re going to read about.
It was a tow-in day and surfers Reef McIntosh and Raimana Van Bastolaer showed up to pull into some giant waves. McIntosh, an inexperienced jet ski driver had no idea what he was getting into when Bastolaer asked him to drive the ski into the line up and attach the tow rope. The surfer admittedly had no experience driving personal watercraft and had no intentions of doing anymore than what he had already accomplished.
Unfortunately, Bastolaer’s tow-in partner was not around so McIntosh was told to jump on and prepare to tow him into a wave. McIntosh was like, “No way,” yet Bastolaer insisted that he could do it. After some coercing, McIntosh still uncertain, agreed to the task.
There was big chop on the waves and it was a little stormy on that crazy day in May. This was definitely no place for a dude with no driving skills to attempt towing a surfer into a wave. Bastolaer almost paid the ultimate price for their actions. The ski that McIntosh was steering was literally picked up by a thick heaving wave. He bailed off the back after losing control, leaving the jet ski alone in the surf. That’s when the riderless machine tumbled precisely over Bastolaer’s head while both were within the confines of a massive barreling wave. It’s amazing that he wasn’t hit by the ski and came out unscathed. We aren’t so sure about the watercraft though.
Prior to the incident, a video shows surfers being safely towed into monstrous caverns, with some guy getting worked while others made successful rides. The jet ski drivers simply dropped them off and quickly motored out the back; which was not the case with McIntosh. His first experience as a tow-in driver was not only a debacle, it was caught on film as well.
Here’s what McIntosh says in a quote from GrindTV.com, “Once I popped up, I was just praying that I’d see him kick out into the channel; that’s all that mattered to me. Once I saw him do so, I was so relieved. After that, I just had to deal with a bruised ego and a lot of embarrassment. Andy Irons was in the channel, and he was like, ‘You shouldn’t have been out there,’ and I was like, ‘I know!’ It was in Sports Illustrated, the “[Late Night with David] Letterman” Show, ‘Good Morning America’; that @#$% was everywhere! I can look back on it now and laugh, and once I saw Raimana, I was like, ‘I told you I couldn’t #$%@-ing drive!’”