Aelan Vaast, Tahiti or the other island

Photographs: Ben Thouard

Translation Iona Elerbe

Meeting with Aelan Vaast from Tahiti

At what age did you start surfing, where and why?

Hello, my name is Aelan Vaast and I’m a surfer from Tahiti. I started surfing at the age of five on beach breaks with my brothers and my parents.

Have you always lived in Tahiti? Can you tell us about surfing there?

I was born in Tahiti and it’s really a paradise for surfing. Here you get waves for all levels, from beginner to professional, beach breaks and reef breaks. We live on the south coast of Tahiti, near Teahupoo, and I usually surf the waves in a passage nearby. The waves there can be perfect.

Competition or free surf?

I do competitions and I like them, because I can compete with other girls and see if I’m progressing. At competitions you also get to meet up with all your friends. This year I came second in the “minime” competition and champion in the junior category in Polynesia. I’m also trying to compete outside of Tahiti – I’ve already been to California and France.

Shortboard or longboard?

I shortboard, because it’s better suited to reef waves and I can do manoeuvres and throw spray. My boards are made in California by Infinity Surfboard, who have been supporting me for a very long time. As my mother longboards, I take her board from time to time to have fun with my brothers.

What is your favourite spot in Tahiti?

In Tahiti, my favourite spot is Te ava ti – in Tahitian it means “the little pass”. It’s a reef break that’s right in front of our house. It is a right with several sections – it can be hollow, soft or fast depending on the day. I really feel confident out there and you don’t get that many people.

Have you had the opportunity to travel and surf elsewhere?

I’ve already been to California and France to participate in competitions. I also went to New Caledonia and Huahine to do some free surfing. But my best trip was to Tikehau in the Tuamotu atolls. I surfed there with two friends – it’s a perfect long right thats wraps around a motu (island). It was magical and I can’t wait to go back.

What’s the wave you dream of surfing?

It’s Teahupoo. I try to go there whenever the conditions aren’t dangerous, but I dream of getting a real barrel out there.

Who is the surfer who inspires you the most?

There are two of them. There’s Maud Le Car, whom I met in Tahiti. She’s strong and kind; she always sends me encouraging messages. There’s also Felicity Palmateur – an Australian. Because she’s beautiful, she surfs big waves and she’s radical. I love her style!

What are your goals for the future or your wishes?

I’m going back to Hawaii soon and hope to surf famous spots like Sunset or Rocky Point. I will continue to compete in Tahiti and abroad, if I can travel. I would also like to do a surf trip with my two brothers to a dream wave.

I would also like to say a big MAURURU (thanks) to Billabong Europe who trust me; to Dan Boehne from Infinity Surfboard for the boards that he makes me; to EQ Love that protects me from the sun and Raimanaworld, who is always there for me.