The last 18 months have been a glorious window of time for Tahitian Kauli Vaast. The goofy-footer has packed some of the most gigantic and gorgeous caverns ever seen at Teahupoo, qualified for the 2022 Challenger Series and more recently has claimed the local trials for the upcoming 2022 Tahiti Pro.
We caught up gath-donning madman on the eve of the event to talk about the recent drop of his short and sharp clip, Season; his goals for the remainder of 2022 and what equipment he trusts to slingshot him through some of the most ghastly pits known to man.
Your new clip is called Season. Tell us, how did you prepare for the clip and how did this year at Teahupoo compare to previous years?
This is a short clip I put together just as every time I came home from competing, I got swell. So I wanted to put all my best waves together from those swells. It was really perfect timing. I’d come home for four days and luckily, I would get four days of the best swell. It was just insane.
Could you believe your luck that every time you came home you got waves?
Not really. And every swell was different. Two years ago and last year, we got lot of swells but I missed a lot of swells too. I feel like I got lucky this year. I just missed the second Code Red swell this year, but that might have been a good thing (laughs).
You copped one of the biggest wipeouts at Chopes in recent memory. How do you prepare for a swell like that because most people would have been terrified, but you seem to have emerged stronger?
I think first of all I’m a competitor, so I’m travelling and competing all around the world. But I love the feeling of big waves, especially when I’m home. When I come back from travelling and there’s swell, I just get so excited to get big waves; especially paddling when I can, but then when it’s massive you obviously need to tow. It’s exciting each time. I spend a lot of time training, not only for big swells but also just to compete. I train my breath by spearfishing quite a lot when it’s flat as well.
You travel quite a lot, but is it nice to see people from all around the world head to your home break?
The last two years have been complicated to travel with COVID, but we had insane swells with just locals out there. It really allowed the level to lift for the locals and it’s super exciting to see. They’ve really stepped up a lot. This year, Tahiti has opened a bit more and some our Hawaiian brothers and some Australian guys have come and it’s been a good vibe to have them in the water with us. Our Tahitian culture is all about sharing and all locals want to see visitors get the wave of their lives.
Talk to us about your wildcard into the Tahiti Pro. Is it a bit of a dream-come-true for someone like yourself who loves competing, but also have it at your home break?
The last time I won the trials I was 17 years old, then the last two years it stopped because of COVID. Last year, it looked like myself, Mihimana (Braye) and Matahi (Drollet) all got wildcards into the event, but the comp got cancelled. It was all of our dream to compete last year, but it didn’t work out unfortunately. This year was pretty hard because the trials were all Tahitian and just the winner would get into the CT event. Thankfully I won and I get the chance to surf in the event in the coming days.
How competitive are all the Tahitians when you have heats together?
We’re all friends, but when the competition is on when all want to win; even if you’re up against your brother. In the trials, there’s no repecharge and there’s one spot into the event, so it’s hard to make main competition, but it is what it is.
Talk to us a bit about the equipment you've been using for the Trials and throughout the swells you scored in Season?
At Teahupoo, I’ve been using the Al Merrick Fin and the Jeremy Flores fin. They’ve been my favourites for a few years now. I stick to the thruster set-up and I find both sets are the best in the barrel, even when it’s small. For the leash I ride the Helix as it’s so strong and super light. It’s actually kinda scary sometimes as you can forget you’re wearing a leash, especially in a big wipeout. I ate it on a big one recently and I remember thinking, ‘Oh no, I’ve snapped my leash,’ but it turns out it was still there.
We spoke to Nate Florence early this year and he said he’d snapped heaps of boards at Pipe but hadn’t snapped a legrope yet. Has it been the same at Teahupoo this season?
Oh, defintely.
Talk to us about the CT. What are your goals and what milestone do you really want to reach?
My main goal is to be one of the best surfers in the world and not have to do the trials anymore. I really want to win and I will do my best to do so.
Have you surfed much with the guys in your first heat (Barron Mamiya and Ethan Ewing)?
Nope, never. Just in freesurfs, never in contests. I just want to surf and enjoy the moment at my home spot. It doesn’t really matter who I have in my heat.



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