le Boogie Magazine

John’s Side of the Story

After Surfing Magazine interviewed Dave Wassel about his take on events, a bit of a stir was caused online in the surfing and bodyboarding communities. And a bigger issue came to light about the fact people are rocking up on jetski’s and taking over spots in Tahiti like they have done at the end of the road for many years. Watch the video and then read John’s interview below.


Words by John Duval,

It was actually my 2nd wave. I was waiting my turn for more than an hour along side Niko Richard who was also waiting for a bomb. We were a little bit shallow from the peak because the current was sucking pretty hard. Then I saw this huge blue wall come out of nowhere. I looked deep and saw that Wassel was towing in and just let go of the rope. So Niko and myself started to paddle as hard as we could. The wave was sucking up so much water. Niko was too far out so he couldn’t make it and yelled for me to go. So I took off thinking I’d have a smooth drop, when all of a sudden, the ledge dropped out below me, I free-fell, trying to hold on to my board as hard as possible to make the air-drop and then I lost my balance before I got smashed. It hurt pretty bad, my back, my neck, and my chin from hitting the board so hard. The hold down was quite long hahaha. My leash broke and lost my board, popped up and was like “What the Hell:, saw this massive bomb with Niko doing some sky-diving. So I dove down as deep as I could and felt I made it past the explosion, when to my surprise, all the power sucked me back into the explosion for another long hold down.

After getting drilled by those two bombs, Niko popped up next to me, then the jet-ski came to his rescue and took him back to the boat. I felt totally disconnected, then I tried to find my board, but didn’t realize how fast the current pushed me way out in the middle of the pass. Then the jet-ski came back with Dave Wassel on the sled and asked me “Hey, was it you who dropped in on Wassel?” I replied “Yes, I was waiting so long for a wave and you guys just kept taking wave after wave…” And then jet-ski driver looked at me with an anger, Wassel said something to him, I couldn’t understand, and the jet-ski driver looked at me and was like pppppfffff… and they both just left me out there in the deep treacherous current board-less. I felt hopeless out there in that strong rip without a board but kept swimming as hard as I could towards the shore as this hell current kept sucking me further and further out to the deep blue. I had no more energy left, and really really felt like I was going to drown.

Totally exhausted, I just rested for about 10 seconds and just glanced at the small dots of people on the shore, thinking to myself, if I don’t swim anymore, I’m going to get sucked way out to sea and probably drown. Then I just kept my head up, and swam harder than I ever have in my life, eventually getting lucky enough to make my way close enough to a nearby beach-break where a pretty good size set came in at the right time and I swam beneath it and tried to ride it’s power underwater until it sucked me into the impact zone, where I finally felt safe. So then, finally made it to the shoreline and rested up and caught my breath. I laughed out of sheer happiness and just thought to myself, what I have just put myself through?? I felt so happy to be alive.

Everyone in Tahiti knows this wave as a bodyboard park with big barrels and ramps all over the place. It’s a super technical wave. But when it’s pumping out there, all the local riders paddle out to the peak and respectfully wait there turn. This day, some foreigners came with jet-skis and kept snagging each and every bomb. It felt pretty un- fair for all of us, as we were trying to paddle in with our own hands. Respect was definitely not shown to us.

Tahiti is a down right a paradise to me. I did a sailing trip on a trimaran with some friends last year to Tonga arriving to Fiji where I met a lot of friendly people like in Tahiti. I had the opportunity to surf cloud-break on a pumping day. It was the best trip I’ve had till now. I’d like to travel internationally more, like Australia, Mexico, Indonesia but realistically, I really just want to travel in the islands of my own country because I know there’s still a lot of good waves to be discovered here.


7 COMMENTS so far...

  1. Posted by: smooth

    This was a well made film explaining the situation that occurred that day between Duval and Wassel thankyou. I think the behaviour of the tow team leaving John in the middle of the pass without a board was a disgusting vengeful act that was probably meant to “teach John a lesson”. No concern was shown for the welfare of John, he could have drowned. International tow teams need to share waves and show respect, also they must at all times give assistance to those in need. Even though John dropped into the wave the tow team should have been able to forgive, instead they put another watermans life in danger. These ppl are callous, mean spirited persons who are not displaying a good human spirit.

  2. Posted by: Mikey

    I think that if John was purposefully left in a dangerous marine situation, and marine authorities get wind of it, the operator on the jet ski could be prosecuted under international marine law for not rendering assistance, and that could be a major offence. Nothing condones leaving another’s life at risk, even a drop-in!

  3. Posted by: Steve

    Is it just me or was the stand up never going to make that tube anyway?….

  4. Posted by: Jason Doyle

    Mass respect John and crew, No More Skis tow ins!!!!

  5. Posted by: Jason Doyle

    Mass respect John and crew, No More Skis tow ins!!!! Wassell is an.arrogant typical American who thinks he owns everythig including every break.he surfs. Karma is a bitch.

  6. Posted by: J C

    Who was the ski driver?!

  7. Posted by: Joe

    Dave Wassel is an embarrassment to all Hawaiians. He should know better than to go straight to the peak straight past all of the locals, tow into nearly every set wave for an entire hour leaving nothing for the locals, and then act all smug and arrogant about it in a video. Also Dave and his ski driver should be condemned for not assisting John in the middle of the sea. Terrible.

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