26 September, 2013 26 September, 2013

TWO SIDES TO EVERY DROP-IN – Dave Wassel & John Duval at Sapinas, Tahiti


When this photo started doing the rounds on social media a few months ago it sparked a lot of debate. On the face of it, it looks like a straightforward burning by a Tahitian bodyboarder on Hawaiian Dave Wassel, and vitriol was spewed by disgruntled wave riders around the world.

Wanting to get the story behind the drop-in at Sapinas, a Teahupoo look-alike, Surfing Magazine contacted Wassel for an interview to get his feelings on what was a shitty situation that could have ended in either one, or both wave riders, getting severely injured or worse.

Wassel appeared in the video interview with a great big shiny machete, apparently filleting a not-so-fresh looking fish, but many viewers took this as a bit of malice towards the local bodyboarder, John Duval.

Of course there are always two sides to every story. In response to Wassel’s video and the threatening comments (plus the great big shiny machete), the bodyboarder in question has now given his side of the story. He claims that Wassel and his tow partner had shown up at Sapinas on this day and repeatedly hogged the best waves, thanks to their ability to catch the wave a lot further out. They continued to tow while a thick crew of locals were paddling in on their own steam. Besides some hard-core waves, the video also reveals that there is a growing resentment to outsiders who have been welcomed to Tahiti in the past, but are now accused of taking way more than their fair share. Watch the videos and feel free to share your thoughts.

( John has since removed his video from the internet )


  1. Charlie
    26 September, 2013 at 12:30 pm · Reply

    Dave Wassel and his crew just come across as an unintelligent bunch testosterone fueled idiots that have no respect for the countries they visit and the people of those countries.

  2. James.
    26 September, 2013 at 1:06 pm · Reply

    Go home kook!

  3. Nickstro
    26 September, 2013 at 5:44 pm · Reply

    I think both surfers are in the wrong. Wassel for snagging too many bombs and the Tahitian for doing something incredibly dangerous by dropping in and not paddling over to talk the the guys first. Williams’s comment at the end of the vid was uncalled for. Wassel is one of the worlds hardest chargers and big wave riders with MASSIVE respect on the North Shore. If he wants to go surf pipe etc and make a name for himself he’s going to get a lot of hate from the locals – and it can be rest assured that the Hawaiians are WAY more hardcore and aggressive than the Tahitians

  4. Wazza
    27 September, 2013 at 5:02 pm · Reply

    You have to admire the solidarity between the various surfing communities. It can teach a lot of other countries board riders about respecting one another. This childish war between SUP, longboard, shortboard, DK, prone bboarders, paddleskiers, etc just sucks. I dig the vibe I had at my local spot with the mix of riders on the peaks, because we respected each other.

    The video with Wassel filleting a fish and calling the bodyboarder a boogieboarder is inflammatory, no wonder Williams reacted to it like he did at the end of the vid.

  5. Rya
    1 October, 2013 at 11:04 am · Reply

    A common story in surfing but to leave a guy after a pounding like that so far from shore with all those currents to fend for himself raises other questions in my mind

  6. Guest
    3 April, 2014 at 5:15 pm · Reply

    he never actually was in your way. You just dropped your line kook

  7. matthew
    3 April, 2014 at 5:16 pm · Reply

    dropped your line bud, looks like a new challenge is too much for you.
    Never was in your way truthfully

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