Interview Of The Week: Tamayo Perry

Easter Island is one of the most mysterious places on Earth. Giant stone heads (moai) dot the land while unruly surf, fueled by storms in Antarctica, pounds its coastline. Called Rapa Nui by its inhabitants, the tiny population survives off tourism and fishing. TransWorld SURF recently sent a crew down to the most isolated, yet inhabitated, piece of land in the world. The following interview, conducted with Tamayo Perry during a recent visit to TransWorld SURF, is a supplement to the current issue on sale now.

The crew, consisting of Michel Bourez(Tahiti), Tamayo and Emilia Perry (Hawaii), Jamie Sterling (Hawaii), Rusty and Greg Long (California), and Seth Stafford (New Jersey), killed it and scored one our best trips ever. The proof is in the pudding, get a copy if you don’t have one already.

TransWorld SURF: So tell me Tamayo, how do you get from Easter Island from Hawaii?

Tamayo: There’re a couple of options you can take. The quickest route would be to go from Hawaii to Tahiti, and then straight to Easter Island. We did a “Round The Pacific Flight though because we bought our tickets literally twenty-four hours before the flight. I think it cost about $1,900 bucks. We went from Honolulu to LA, and then to Peru. From Peru to Chile, and then over to Easter Island. Then, after the Easter Island, we went straight to Tahiti.

Made the loop huh?

Tamayo: Yeah, it was pretty taxing on the body.

What did it remind you of when you landed?

It kind of reminded me a lot of Tahiti, but with more of a Hawaii look and climate. It had the Tahiti kind of nostalgia though, like Hawaii was 60-80 years ago, just super laid back.

Where did you guys stay?

We stayed at these dormitories with a friend of Rusty, Renee, who he met a couple years ago. He’s a super cool guy and one of the main surfing authorities over there.

Does he surf good?

He charges and he’s a really smooth surfer. He’s pro for the island.

Tell me about the left you guys surfed. In the article, you compared it to G-Land.

I have to say, it’s the closest thing to G-Land in the Pacific Ocean. I call it Polynesian G-Land. It’s not as perfect as G-land, so you just have to be super selective. At least on wave per set is going to be dynamite, though. It kind of reminded me of Honolua Bay as far as viewing setup–there’s a big ol’ black cliff behind the wave.

In the article you guys mention this guy Peu Tete. What’s that guy all about? I heard you guys were all doing some pig dance/chant kind of thing?

Yeah, that guy’s straight from the roots of the Marquesas. Supposedly, he was on an island that had no electricity, no nothing, and he would just sit and make pig noises, talking to his hunting dogs, until a pig showed up on the scene. He taught us how to call pigs.

I have some friends who do that really well. Did you guys catch any pigs during the pig calling?

Peu mastered the pig sounds. He’d act like he was in the bush and he was the pig. Sterlz had the pig calling down pretty good, too.

Enough about the pigs. What about the waves?

The left in the article was pretty much the same concept as surfing Honolua Bay as far as just big, black rocks. It wasn’t like a treacherous bottom. But, there was another right we dabbled with, one of the premiere waves on the island, that I think Laird and Brock tackled it back in the day. Rusty and Greg warned me about it, saying that I probably want to use booties, this and that, and that it was pretty intense. Sure enough, my first encounter out there, Rusty and Greg jumped in with perfect timing. They got out smooth through a little keyhole. I tried to follow them, like eight feet behind them, and I just got slurped off the reef. I was doing the full crab, put my hands down, and got about ten little spiny tips of urchin in my fingers and then by the time I got out there I was dripping blood and peeing in my wwet suit. That’s when the local shark came in for a little checkout.

I pretty much shit myself and told the boys to form a single file line. I said, “I’ll take the caboose. I don’t have any pride or ego and I don’t want to be looking at this article a couple months later with no leg going, ‘I remember when I was a pro surfer back in the day!’ So I said, “Boys this is reality, there’s a fucking big shark cruising around! What do you want to do? I’ll take the caboose, let’s get outta here! Rusty was all, “But he showed himself, and usually, in scientific research, if they show themselves they’re not going to attack us, so it should be alright. I’m looking at Greg, just trying to talk him out of it, like, “Come with me! You know? I opted to get destroyed by an eight-foot plus right–just copped it over the reef, and pretty much went in kissing land.

Nice. So, tell me about the Maoi’s. What are those like?

Oh, the Maois are cool. I think the majority of the statues face inland toward the village. Supposedly, it’s the ancestors looking out for their families, giving them the power and fertility they need to sustain life. I guess there was a full civil war there between the two tribes on the island. As far as the moai, there’re short ears, and there’re the long ears. They both represented the two tribes. I think the long ears dominated for a while, and I think that the short ears rebelled, toppled down all of the long ear statues, and pulled out all their eyes, because their eyes are what gave them their their power. So they ripped out their eyes and threw them in the ocean.

How big are they?

They’re huge. The biggest statue twenty-one meters tall, so that’s over sixty feet tall. It’s still stuck in the mountain that they mined them from.

So will you guys be going back?

I want to go back next year. I think the door is still open for TransWorld, there’s still waves, we only tapped one wave, and that was a world-class wave. There’re probably four or five more setups that are mind-boggling. I think that it’s pretty untapped, to be honest. Partially because it’s so fickle there, I mean, you get huge swells, that’s not the problem–it’s the weather. They get nasty storms and wind–wind was our factor. There were waves the whole time, but the wind was messed up.

See all the action for yourself by picking up a copy of the August 2005 TransWorld SURF