WATCH: Meet the Waterman of Tahiti with Matt Poole - Sail+Leisure
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Meet the Waterman of Tahiti

by Ingrid Hale
Tahiti Waterman

Surfer Matt Poole takes to the water along side the worlds most adapt watermen as part of The Waterman: an all-round ocean based competition in Tahiti, French Polynesia. “I’ve experienced everything competitively in a sport that I love, I’ve spent my life training and competing as a professional athlete but I know want to know how I stack up against some of the best watermen in the world, the Polynesians.”

At Teahupo’o, one of the craziest waves in the surfing community, there is yet another competition that takes place, set to test athletes to their absolute limits in the water. The Waterman Tahiti Tour is THE standard against which all other “waterman” competitions are measured.  Stand up paddle (SUP), open water swimming, prone paddleboard, body surf and lifesaving highlight the versatility and endurance of the athletes. Each year, they train to be able to meet the different challenges and exceed their personal limits. The Waterman Tahiti Tour is a championship measured in points amassed over 5 stages.

Matahi Drollet, Tahitian Surfer/Waterman, says in the video, “For me a waterman is just someone that has a good connection with the ocean, is respectful and is aware of where his place is. For me nature will always be the main thing and to realise that the ocean the mountains and the wind is something bigger than you and to feel the energy, that’s what makes a waterman”

Matt met and competed against local athletes in Tahiti and was inspired by their connection to nature through the history of Polynesian culture. These people and their culture come from an ancient lineage of watermen and women, the ocean is in their blood. “I havn’t come to Tahiti to win – I have come here to learn from some of the best waterman on the planet and hopefully earn their respect”. Johan Hironui Bouit, Tahitian Waterman, explains in the video how in Polynesia and specifically Tahiti they have the best of the best watermen, that their genes have adapted to the kinds of conditions found in the ocean from generations upon generations of watermen and women.  The ancient Polynesian people migrated over immense bodies of water to discover and settle on the numerous Polynesian islands. Spreading out from Hawaii to the Easter Islands and to New Zealand, these ancient civilisations had to have immense knowledge, strength and abilities in and of the oceans in order to navigate and survive the waters of Polynesia.

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