CLOUDBREAK TURNS ON FOR ROUNDS 2 AND 3 OF THE FIJI PRO 2014!

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posted by James Willmott

Day 2 of the ASP WCT Fiji Pro 2014 saw both Men’s Round 2 and 3 get under way, with some entertaining surfing and surprising results. The swell was much the same as yesterday, with the left hand reef of Cloudbreak providing 3-5 feet of swell for surfers to unleash on. The sun continued to shine down on the beautiful islands of Fiji as stop Number 5 of the World Championship Tour continued, losing  a further 18 surfers by the end of the day.

As Round 1 wrapped up yesterday, there was no doubt some surprising results with big wigs being forced to the elimination Round 2 by the up and coming generation of surfers. The first Heat of Round 2 saw Australian and tour veteran Taj Burrow up against local and trials event winner Isei Tokovou. Due to the morning’s inconsistency, the pair posted only small scores within the first 10 minutes. Eventually, Burrow managed to scrape into a set, throwing two big turns for a well deserved 7.50, taking the lead from the local competitor. Burrow continued to increase his lead with a score of 5.50, which unfortunately proved too strong for Isei Tokovou and all the local supporters.

“I’ve known Isei for years and I know he’s dangerous especially in the big surf,” Burrow said. “It was an inconsistent heat, I felt a little lost. I didn’t mind surfing in Round 2, I needed some more time in the water out there to try out my boards. It’s one of the best event on Tour and I really want to do well.”

After a Round 1 upset, Mick Fanning met wildcard Wiggolly Dantas in Heat 2 of Round 2. Both surfers opened their campaigns with absolute identical scores of 5.83. Dantas was soon to strike again and took an early lead over Fanning obtaining a 4.43. The final 10 minutes of a Heat can indeed ‘make’ or ‘break’ a surfer. Luckily for Fanning the Fire, he answered back with the wave of the Heat, producing a 6.60 and took the lead. Dantas struck again through powerful turns and snaps, though fell on his last turn causing the wave to be scored incomplete. This, luckily for Mick, was enough to take the win and advance through to Round 3.

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 Mick Fanning tearing apart Cloudbreak’s open faces – Photo by ASP

Australian’s Josh Kerr and Glenn Hall met next in Round 2 Heat 3. Clean conditions prevailed for the Heat, much different to yesterday’s windy, cross shore conditions. Both surfers have been in great form, particularly Hall who has since returned to the Tour as a wildcard after injury. Kerr is known to be such a versatile surfer, being able to tear apart waves in almost any condition. Today didn’t go in Kerr’s favour however, as Glenn Hall used great wave selection and his powerful forehand abilities to overcome Kerr and send him packing a little earlier than he had hoped.

Heat 4 was an all American Heat, with Brett Simpson up against fellow Californian Nat Young. Conditions started to prove more challenging as the two hit the water, going head to head to avoid the devastating elimination. Young took the lead first, posting a 7.50 to that of Simpson’s 5.17. Simpson battled back to take the lead, though only a matter of time saw the in form Nat Young combine two powerful turns proving enough to take back the head. Young continued on his campaign and increased his lead more with a 7.17, enough to continue through to Round 3 of competition.

“I was excited to get put there and surf another heat,” Young said. “It’s not always great to be in Round 2 but I’m stoked to get out there today, the surf is a little better than yesterday. I got a 9th here last year and I want to do better than that here this year.”

Heat 5 saw C.J. Hobgood surfing against Tiago Pires. The heat begun with C.J. paddling into a dredging, long, left hand wall. The wave proved too fast for Hobgood, who was unable to make it out of the opening ride. Pires struggled in the early moments on the Heat, though at the 20 minute mark unleashed several powerful hacks and take the lead with a 7.77. This caused the next big upset in competition, though for Pires it was fantastic as he advanced and knocked out one of the more consistant performers at Cloudbreak.

Aussies Dean Atkinson and Bede Burbidge together hit the Cloudbreak line up next. Durbidge has been in great form, surfing strong and this Heat proved no different. He opened the Heat first through an array of what seemed effortless backhand manoeuvres for a 6.67 and 4.43. Atkinson scraped together a few smaller scores, though Durbidge continued his lead with a variety of solid vertical snaps off the top lip, gaining a 7.70. Atkinson did not let this intimidate and finally struck back, unleashing three huge backside turns. Unfortunately, Atkinson needed a 8.67 in order to advance, though came painfully short with a 8.50.

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 Bede Durbidge proved too strong for Dion Atkinson – Photo by ASP

Brazilians and Hurley team members Miguel Pupo and Alejo Muniz both went into Heat 7 with strong mind-frames.  Conditions at the famous left hand reef continued to improve as the Heat progressed, allowing both surfers to throw out a display of great competitive surfing. Pupo struck first through a mix of extensive snaps and turns, impressing judges and spectators. Muniz was quick to answer however, locking into some solid rides and proving too strong for his fellow countryman to take the win and advance through to Round 3.

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 Muniz gliding towards the Heat win – photo by ASP

Kolohe Andino and Aritz Aranburu clashed in Heat 8 of Round 2. The two traded off waves and smaller scores for the first half of the Heat, before Andino put pedal to the metal and scored a 5.83 to take the lead. Though Andino lead, the two surfers were soon to exchange set waves with both unleashing powerful turns and locking in solid rides. Aranburu was able to lock in a great score of 6.10, though was not strong enough for Kolohe, who added a 6.87 to his scorecard and enough for the win.

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 Kolohe Andino – Photo by ASP

Kai Otton and Matt ‘Wilko’ Wilkinson were next in the Round 2 competition as the tide continued to drop and provide draining conditions. With both surfers surfing goofy stance, the long walls of Cloudbreak provided perfect conditions for powerful, attacking forehand surfing. Both opened early and threw out strong turns, impressing judges. Otton lead the Heat after this exchange, locking in two 7 point rides. Wilkinson answered back late in the Heat, though could not match the earlier scores of his fellow Australian competitor.

Brazilians Jadson Andre and Filipe Toledo battled to avoid elimination in Heat 10 of Round 2 with the improving conditions. Andre struck first, gaining the lead over Toledo in the opening exchange of waves.  Andre continued in fine form progressing further from his younger competitor, adding another fine score of 6.83 to his belt. Toledo did not bow down, paddling into a mid size wave and punishing the open face of Cloudbreak through a series of backhand manoeuvres. This wave allowed Toledo to take the lead and although Andre powered back through a final performance, the 5.63 fell short of the score needed to progress through to the next Round.

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 Filipe Toledo superstyled layback barrel – Photo by ASP

Goofy footers Australian Adrian Buchan and South African Travis Logie battled in Heat 11 of elimination Round 2. Conditions fell slightly, with onshore sea breezes, forcing competitors to mix their games up and go for different approaches rather than barrel riding. Buchan managed to get into some of the biggest sets seen at the Fiji competition so far, and through powerful manoeuvres placed a 6.67 and 7.43 to his campaign. Although Logie scored in the 7 point range also, the Australian proved too strong, advancing through to Round 3 and one step closer to the Fiji Pro title.

“Fiji is a wave that I feel really comfortable in,” Buchan said. “Travis had some good scores at the end and it was close so it’s good to get the win there and move on. I haven’t had the best start to the year so every heat counts right now.

The final Heat of Round 2 was an amazing one for spectators and judges, as the new breed of power surfers Jeremy Flores took on Mitch Crews in the 3-5 foot heavy conditions. Flores opened with a pair of 6 point rides, starting strong in the Heat. Many thought it was perhaps all over for Crews after only managing to collect a few minor scores, though eventually he struck back with a 5.83, putting himself back in light. It was short lived for Crews, as Flores tucked into a bigger set of the day, drawing long lines and navigating the line perfectly, resulting in a strong score of 8.43, a score the Australian simply could not catch.

After the completion of Round 2 and some big names being eliminated from competition, judges saw time to start Round 3 immediately as heavy conditions continued to be relevant and the winds started to improve. It was a call best made, with an amazing afternoon of surfing going down in all Heats.

Mick Fanning first came up against Brazilian ripper Alejo Muniz. The Aussies hunger was evident as he threw his all his backhand skills into Cloudbreak, posting early scores of 5.00 and 8.93 through great barrel riding and a perfectly executed re-entry. Muniz was notably frustrated as a lull took over the Heat, giving close to no opportunities for either surfer to lock in solid scores. Eventually, Fanning improved his lead yet again through a well ridden set wave performance, throwing a huge snap right in the pocket. The reigning three times World Champion proved too strong for Alejo Muniz, as he advanced through to Round 4.

Surfers Nat Young and Kai Otton impressed judges earlier on in the day through their Round 2 performances, now it was time for the two to come head to head in Heat 2 of Round 3. The tide continued to drop and conditions were appropriately cleaner, as the infamous barrels of Cloudbreak once more started to present themselves. The two surfers stayed quiet for the first half of the Heat, before Young opened with a solid barrel ride and end turn for an outstanding score of 8.93. Otton was soon to strike back through his forehand attack, though managed to only produce mid range scores. Young continued on his barrel campaign, posting another score of 7.40 after a long grinder across a long section of Cloudbreak’s reef setup, enough to shoot him into Round 4.

Some of the best waves of the Fiji Pro 2014 were ridden in Heat 3 of Round 3 as Margaret River and Rio Pro winner Michel Bourez took on Jeremy Flores. Bourez wowed audiences through his outstanding ability to navigate the waves Cloudbreak, posting a 6.00 in the first minute. The exchange was quite different for Flores, who broke his board on his opening wave. The raw talent and strong hunger of Bourez was sufficiently evident, as he continued to tear apart the line-up. A huge score of 9.50 was added to Bourez’s scorecard after an extraordinary wave with a powerful hack and two deep barrels on the one wave. This was noted to be one of the best waves seen in the competition so far, and the score surely supported it. Flores struggled to find the exit of any tubes, as Bourez continued with another barrel, further adding an 8.17. Bourez now stands a shot of taking out yet another 2014 ASP event, as he advances through to Round 4. Flores leaves Fiji in an equal 17th place.

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 Michel Bourez and his 9 point ride – Photo by ASP

South African and all round good guy Jordy Smith took to the water next with Brazilian Filipe Toledo. Smith was quick to strike, throwing all he had into some well scoring backhand manoeuvres. Toledo opted to take a different approach, hunting the low tide barrel opportunities Cloudbreak seemed to be offering. Jordy continued to hunt big snap openings, though Toledo proved too strong after getting into some solid set waves, of which he displayed great elements of surfing. This included drawing great lines to powerful snaps and turns off the end bowls, enough to shoot the Brazilian into Round 4.

Bede Durbidge and Owen Wright are too amazing surfers on the World Tour, and they met in Heat 5 of Round 3. Both have been surfing very well through the 2014 season, and this heat surely lived up to the pair’s reputation. Conditions continued to improve, cleaning up and providing some great waves for the two to compete. Durbidge was first to gain scores, gaining two waves of 6.17 and 8.43 through powerful backhand turns and hacks to comfortably open his Round 3 campaign. Though Wright took longer to strike and was only sitting on 6.83, it all changed when he managed to paddle into one of the best waves of competition so far. Wright smashed a huge forehand turn as the wave was about to throw over, resulting in him sliding down the face, regathering his rail and line, setting up for a long, hollow barrel. The wave received praise from spectators and judges and clocked a 9.33 on the scoreboard. Durbidge tried to get into to another to post something of the same, though fell short and was eliminated.

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 Owen Wright one the wave of the day – Photo by ASP

The final Heat of the day was a match between 11 time World Champion and popular Fiji title contender Kelly Slater, against up and coming Australian Mitch Coleborn. Slater’s experience of the break was evident as he opened with a big turn, barrel ride and floater combination for a 7.83. Wildcard Coleborn struck back with a deep barrel, trailing close behind with a 5.33. Slater continued hungry for a 5th win at the event posting a solid barrel score of 8.50, leaving Coleborn needing two great combination scores for the win. Though Coleborn never threw in the white towel, he was unable to match Slater’s performance and was knocked in Round 3.

Tomorrow will see yet again similar conditions as Round 3 is scheduled to continue in the early, clean conditions. Cheer on your favourite surfers by keeping up to date here at the SurfStich Blog or watch the contest live at aspworldtour.com. Remember to hashtag #FIJIPRO to show everyone on Tour and around the world your support! Check out the highlights of Rounds 2 and 3 below and tune in tomorrow for more of the Fiji Pro 2014!