The world’s best surfers have arrived in the South Pacific for Stop No. 5 on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour (CT), the Fiji Pro, recommencing this season’s electrifying race for the world surfing crown.
Led by dual scions of the “Brazilian Storm” in Jeep Leaderboard frontrunner Adriano de Souza (BRA) and WSL No. 2 Filipe Toledo (BRA), the world’s best surfers will take on the world-class reef breaks of Cloudbreak and Restaurants this coming week, battling one another for prestige and valuable prize points.
“I’m super thankful to be back in Fiji,” De Souza said. “I’ve been here for the past week, warming up around the women’s event. The wave is world class and we’re going to see some amazing surfing at this event.”
Toledo, coming hot off an emphatic win in Rio de Janeiro as well as a win at the opening event of the year at Snapper Rocks, was equally enthusiastic about the upcoming Fiji Pro.
“It’s been a super solid year for me with a win on the Gold Coast and then at home in Brazil,” Toledo said. “I’m really pumped to be back in Fiji. It looks like we have some great waves forecast for the event and I’m excited to see how everyone is surfing.”
The 2015 Fiji Pro boasts arguably the most impressive competitive field ever assembled with reigning WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA), 11-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA) and three-time Mick Fanning (AUS) leading the remainder of the WSL Top 34.
“It’s great to be back in Fiji,” Fanning said. “It’s become like a second home to me over the years and I love the waves here. It’ll be exciting to see how everyone approaches Cloudbreak and maybe Restaurants this week. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Dane Reynolds (USA) and Aca Ravulo (FJI) have been allocated wildcards into the Fiji Pro where they face Filipe Toledo (BRA)/Adrian Buchan (AUS) and Mick Fanning (AUS)/Ricardo Christie (NZL) in their respective Round 1 match-ups.
While the title contenders are all in attendance, injury has plagued the WSL Top 34 ahead of the Fiji Pro. However, some of the most dynamic replacements of the season have been lined up to make this year’s event one of the most exciting on record:
Michel Bourez (PYF) injury withdrawal, replaced by Alejo Muniz (BRA).
John John Florence (HAW) injury withdrawal, replaced by Aritz Aranburu (ESP).
Brett Simpson (USA) injury withdrawal, replaced by Jay Davies (AUS).
Jordy Smith (ZAF) injury withdrawal, replaced by Inia Nakalevu (FJI).
Event organizers will convene tomorrow morning at 6:30am to assess conditions for a possible start.
When competition commences, up first will be 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) up against Kolohe Andino (USA) and Alejo Muniz (BRA) in the opening heat of Round 1.
Surfline, official forecaster for the WSL, are calling for:
The first couple days of the event waiting period will see smaller leftovers from the swell that peaked on Friday. Small/fun size SW swell looks likely for the 10th-11th, with good potential for a strong SW groundswell the 12th-14th.
The Fiji Pro will be webcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com.
The world’s best surfing will also be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports in Australia, MCS Extreme in France, EDGE Sports in China, South Korea, Malaysia and other territories and on Globo TV in Brazil.
Fiji Pro Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA), Kolohe Andino (USA), Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS), Matt Banting (AUS), Aritz Aranburu (ESP)
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Jay Davies (AUS)
Heat 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Dane Reynolds (USA)
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS), Ricardo Christie (NZL), Aca Ravulo (FJI)
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kai Otton (AUS), Inia Nakalevu (FJI)
Heat 7: Gabirel Medina (BRA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 8: Owen Wright (AUS), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 9: Nat Young (USA), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 10: Julian Wilson (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 11: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 12: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)