TAVARUA, Fiji (Sunday, June 14, 2015) – Stop No. 5 of 11 on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour (CT), the Fiji Pro, continued today with the world’s best surfers battling big surf at Cloudbreak in a thrilling day of action which saw the completion of Round 2 and the opening six heats of Round 3 in building six-to-eight foot surf.
Kelly Slater (USA), 11-time WSL Champion and four-time Fiji Pro winner, was dominant once again this afternoon, posting the day’s high heat total of an 18.57 out of a possible 20 for an unparalleled mastery of Cloudbreak on his backhand – perfectly navigated waves, deep barrels and committed turns were the order of the day for the iconic Floridian. Sitting at an uncharacteristic 13th on the 2015 WSL Jeep Leaderboard Ratings, Slater’s rapport with Cloudbreak and Restaurants presents a natural opportunity to regain his stellar form.
“They should have every contest at Cloudbreak,” Slater jokingly said after his Round 3 heat. “It’s been a really bad start for me this year. I think ’93 was a bad start that I was able to recover from – it was a year when I had some personal and professional distractions going on. I don’t know, I’ve been rushing a few things this year when it hasn’t been going my way and it’s obviously shown. Fiji is definitely a comfortable place for me and I’ve felt like I’ve been clicking through the last two heats.”
Dane Reynolds (USA), former world No. 4 and wildcard into the Fiji Pro, caused the upset of the event this afternoon, eliminating current Jeep Frontrunner Adriano de Souza (BRA) from competition in the final Round 3 heat of the day. Reynolds, universally-celebrated for his power-based dynamic brand of surfing, put his talents to good use today in posting an excellent 18.34 out of a possible 20 to advance through to Round 4.
“It’s hard not to enjoy it here based purely off the waves,” Reynolds said. “Everyone is stoked when they get a barrel. The conditions were a bit touch and go before our heat and Adriano (de Souza) and I were talking about potentially calling it off. I’m glad we didn’t – I don’t know how Adriano feels now. We both had waves in that heat though so I think it worked out.”
Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), 2015 WSL CT rookie, posted an impressive Round 3 win over last year’s Fiji Pro Runner-Up Nat Young (USA). Following an impassioned start to the bout that saw both surfers battling for position, Dantas answered back to Young’s barrel prowess with an impressive display of forehand power surfing.
“Nat (Young) and I were fighting for the inside at the start of the heat,” Dantas said. “He’s a great surfer, especially at Cloudbreak, and I wanted to get the first wave of the heat. On days like this, it’s about rhythm. You can either be on the good waves or the bad ones. I was fortunate to get on a couple of good waves that allowed for some big turns. Stoked to be into Round 4.”
Dantas was joined by rookie compatriot Italo Ferreira (BRA) in Round 3 wins this afternoon.
Other Round 3 winners this afternoon included Australians Taj Burrow (AUS) and Julian Wilson (AUS), eliminating rookie Keanu Asing (HAW) and lethal Californian Kolohe Andino (USA) respectively.
For Wilson, today proved to be somewhat stressful as the young Australian posted late turnaround wins in both his morning Round 2 heat over 2001 WSL Champion C.J. Hobgood (USA) and his afternoon Round 3 heat over Andino.
“Left it to the end in both my bouts today but a lot of that boiled down to opportunity,” Wilson said. “I’m feeling strong and my boards are feeling great, it just comes down to getting the waves you need. Fortunately for me, they came to me in both my heats, albeit a bit later than I would have preferred. Stoked to be into Round 4 thought and the forecast for the next couple of days looks great.”
Bede Durbidge (AUS) put on a commanding performance in his morning Round 2 heat against Dusty Payne (HAW), putting his opponent in a combination situation and steadily improving his lead. A 15.67 heat total was too much for the Hawaiian and he will refocus on the next stop in South Africa.
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 2012 WSL Champion, continued the Australian success, moving on to Round 3 after taking a commanding win over Glenn Hall (IRL) in Heat 7 with a solid 17.00 heat total. After a disappointing start to the year the 2012 World Champion is looking for a return to form in Fiji.
“It really turned on in our heat and there was plenty of waves,” said Parkinson. “I started just focused on getting some scores and getting it done. It’s great having Occy (Mark Occhilupo) here with me. He’s got so much experience so good to see him down here.”
Adam Melling (AUS) delivered another strong performance in his heat against fellow Australian Matt Wilkinson (AUS) in Heat 9, delivering a solid display of power turns and barrels. Melling built his scoreline with an 8.90 followed by and 8.20 for a series of backside hacks, improving his position with a barrel for an 8.70 and an impressive 17.60 heat total.
“That first wave kinda set me up for the rest of the heat,” Melling said. “It’s tricky to know where to sit. I do a fair bit of fitness training at home and it’s paying off I guess.”
Ricardo Christie (NZL) and Jeremy Flores (FRA) went to battle in the building surf in Round 2 Heat 10. An exciting exchange saw a beautiful backside tube followed by a series of nice turns from the rookie New Zealander which was quickly answered by a deep barrel from Flores. The Frenchman got the better of the two waves to secure the lead despite a heat-high 9.57 from Christie for some critical surfing. It wasn’t enough to upset Flores, who took the win just 0.23 points ahead of his rival and advances to Round 3.
“That was a great heat, by far the best heat I’ve had all year,” Flores said. “The waves were really good. Ricardo Christie is a rookie but he definitely doesn’t look like a rookie and he’s surfing amazing at the moment.”
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7:30am to reassess conditions.
When competition recommences, up first will bethree-time WSL Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) up against Alejo Muniz (BRA) in Heat 7 of Round 3.
Surfline, official forecasters for the WSL, are calling for:
Reinforcing medium size SW swell will show for Sunday morning. Then a larger/solid SSW swell will build in through Monday morning and peak in the afternoon, before easing Tuesday through mid week. Wind conditions generally look favorable for at least the mornings through the next few days.
Highlights from the Fiji Pro will be available via WorldSurfLeague.com.
The world’s best surfing is 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 2 Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.50 def. Inia Nakalevu (FJI) 6.87
Heat 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 10.70 def. Aca Ravulo (FJI) 8.86
Heat 3: Dane Reynolds (USA) 15.00 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 14.10
Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.70 def. Jay Davies (AUS) 9.47
Heat 5: Owen Wright (AUS) 10.10 def. Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 9.03
Heat 6: Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.93 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 10.67
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15.67 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 12.70
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.00 def. Glenn Hall (IRL) 8.87
Heat 9: Adam Melling (AUS) 17.60 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.50
Heat 10: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 12.27 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 5.70
Heat 11: Jeremy Flores (AUS) 17.70 def. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 17.47
Heat 12: Kolohe Andino (USA) 16.70 def. Matt Banting (AUS) 12.30
Fiji Pro Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.16 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 6.36
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.93 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.34
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.57 def. Fredrick Patacchia Jr. (HAW) 10.17
Heat 4: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 15.36 def. Nat Young (USA) 13.94
Heat 5: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.93 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 11.80
Heat 6: Dane Reynolds (USA) 18.34 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.64
Upcoming Fiji Pro Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 7: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 9: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 10: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 11: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 12: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)