French Olympic surfer, Vahine Fierro, became the first Frenchwoman to win the women’s Tahiti Pro on the waves of Teahupo’o on Wednesday, just two months before the Olympic surfing events to be held on the French Pacific island.

Nearly 16,000 kilometres from the French capital, the French Pacific island, despite much previous controversy due to the necessary construction work and its environmental impact along with local protests, was chosen to host the surfing events for Paris 2024.

Vahine Fierro, who holds French citizenship as Tahiti is an overseas territory, was born in Huahine, one of the Leeward Islands in the Society Islands archipelago in French Polynesia, a French protectorate since 1888, making her a French resident.

The French surfer managed to overcome Costa Rica’s Brisa Hennessy in the final of the World Surf League event, held at one of the world’s premier surfing spots, where 48 athletes of both sexes will seek glory.

With this success, the 24-year-old, who celebrated her birthday in December and was crowned world junior champion in 2017, positioned herself as one of the favourites for Olympic gold.

“It’s crazy. There was so much power in the waves, I’m speechless,” she said after using her local knowledge to beat Costa Rica’s Brisa Hennessy in the final.

Teahupo’o is a small village in the southwest of the Tahiti peninsula, with misty mountains as a backdrop, where a few hundred residents annually welcome elite surfers and their teams in their wooden bungalows.

The organisers of the Paris Olympics were impressed by the postcard landscape in 2021 when Teahupo’o was designated as an Olympic site, generating both enthusiasm and concern among the local population, mainly for environmental reasons.

One point of contention was the installation of a new aluminium tower for judges in the lagoon, which was ultimately approved despite local community objections and is being used for the first time this week.

Environmentalists had raised the alarm (organising marches, protests, and petition drives, although they failed to halt the construction) after a barge used by construction workers damaged the coral that forms part of the seabed at the site. However, local organisers say the situation has calmed down.

Regarding the Surf event, the International Surfing Association (ISA), the sport’s global governing body, announced on Wednesday 29 May, the surfers for each heat of the first round of the competition to be held in Teahupo’o, Tahiti.

The competition will feature 24 athletes of each sex, divided into eight heats of three athletes each. The first athlete from each heat will advance directly to the round of 16, while the other two will compete in a repechage. Brazil, with six surfers, will have the most representatives in the events that will take place over four days in a 10-day window from 27 July to 8 August.