The Billabong Pro Tahiti, underway at notorious Teahupoo, has featured giant surf and amazing barrel rides, but the most incredible session occurred during a contest lay day on Saturday -- when the waves were too large and dangerous for the paddle surfers on the ASP World Tour.
Because of the "code red" conditions, they gave way to an elite group of jet-ski tow surfers, who were pulled onto the shoulders of 15- to 25-foot waves and experienced one of the most thrilling barrel-riding tow sessions ever recorded (see video).
Among the surfers who risked life and limb -- literally, Teahupoo at that size is thunderously powerful -- were Bruce Irons, Kamalei Alexander, Dean Bowen, Dylan Longbottom, Laurie Towner, Keala Kennelly and Danilo Costa.
The waves were so round and their heaving lips were so dense that survival instincts seemed to kick in for each surfer after every drop-in.
The contest resumed Sunday and a winner probably will be crowned later today.