Sunday 18 February 2018 / 12:38 PM

Fiji Pro: Surfer’s Paradise

Tropical island resorts, warm water and a never-ending summer – sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? This is the everyday life of a professional surfer. Believe it or not though, these luxuries are a distant second to the feeling they get from the perfect wave – pulling deep into a barrel and being blown out the other side, arms wide apart looking up to the gods. It doesn’t get much better than Cloudbreak and Restaurants in Tavarua, Fiji.

Situated on a sheltered reef, three miles south of Namotu Island Resort, Cloudbreak is ranked among the top ten most challenging waves in the world. Those who dare to surf it on a swell have described it as the surfing mecca; a fast barrelling left over razor sharp reef. It’s a peak you have to see to believe, so it’s no surprise that the fifth stop on the ASP tour explores its beauty.

With three different winners from four events and a predicted southwest swell, the stage is set for an epic battle. Cloudbreak requires a fair amount of experience so, as clichéd as it sounds; it’s hard not to look past 11-time world champion and winner of the previous two Fiji events, Kelly Slater.

Kelly has a special love affair with Cloudbreak and if history is anything to go by, it seems she’s pretty fond of him too. Crowned champion of Cloudbreak a record four times, Kelly has an ability to take off way down the line and a hunger for getting in deep that makes him dangerous. Cloudbreak is notorious for seeing veterans outshine the groms.

It won’t be easy for Kelly; second-ranked Aussie Taj Burrow seems to be in the form of his life. His magnetic style is forever on show, and a runner up spot at Bells Beach has Taj hungrier for that elusive maiden world title.

Fresh from victory at Bells, reigning world champion Mick Fanning is showing glimpses of the form we saw back in 2007 that scored him his first world title. Surfing alongside him is great friend and fierce rival Joel Parkinson who is equally electric this year. With their strenuous training regime, extreme focus and brilliant surfing brains, Mick and Joel are the ultimate professionals in and out of the water; this is what gives them an edge over the majority of their competitors. It’s always a blockbuster when those two go head-to-head – throw in the majesty of Fiji and you’ve got yourself viewing gold.  

One to watch this year is Michel Bourez, a surfer of the future. His free-flowing style and stunning aerial assaults saw him take out two victories this year at Snapper Rocks and more recently Rio. Although, with no aerial sections available at Cloudbreak, it’s hard to see the likes of Bourez , John John Florence and Gabriel Medina getting the big scores.

Not to be forgotten is veteran Brazilian Adriano De Souza, who is again proving he’s closer than ever to being Brazil’s first world champion.

And with Jordy Smith, the cool-headed South African, and Nat Young, America’s superstar in the making, the top ten alone is a veritable surfing feast. Those who dare to sit way behind the ledge and take the drop with big bottom turns will reap the reward of a perfect 10-point barrel, easily the most satisfying feeling for a surfer.  

Regardless of the result, the true spectacle is this beautiful wave. Mother Nature’s fury hits deep in the ocean and the different angles she creates is truly awe-inspiring. You may never get an opportunity to surf Cloudbreak, but come Sunday you’ll witness the men who throw caution to the wind just to get a taste of her consistency. If you catch the Volcom Fiji Pro, be sure to pack a strong stomach – you’re going to need it.  

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Peter Fegan

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