Tahiti villagers say barge for surf tower construction damages reef

December 3, 2023 9:49 am

[Source: Reuters]

A barge planned for use building a controversial judging tower for the Paris 2024 Olympic surfing competition in Tahiti snagged on a reef and damaged coral near the contest site on Friday, local opponents said.

Residents of Teahupo’o in October protested plans by Games organisers to build the 14-metre (45-foot) aluminium tower to enable up to 40 people to watch, film and judge the surfing at a famed break in front of the village.

Organisers including Paris 2024 and the French Polynesia government said last month they had decided building a smaller, lighter tower on the site was the best option, allowing for smaller equipment to install it – but still requiring new foundations in the reef.

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The wave at Teahupo’o is one of surfing’s most hallowed venues, where big swells slam onto the shallow tropical reef creating perfect but ferocious tubes.

Teahupo’o has long hosted a contest on the professional world tour, using a modest wooden tower for judges on the reef that locals want to be retained for the Olympics but which organisers say is unsafe.

A video posted on Instagram by Save Teahupo’o Reef, a coalition of locals, surfers and environmental NGOs, showed the barge apparently stuck on the reef, along with broken coral and the barge’s damaged propeller.