Fiji Pro 2014 Day 3 Wrap Up!

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posted by James Willmott

After yesterday’s long day of competition, the remaining surfers awoke to 3-5 foot waves for the third day of the ASP Fiji Pro 2014. It was a beautiful morning on the island of Tavarua, with clean conditions and long Cloudbreak walls on offer for competitors. The schedule saw the remainder of Round 3 held, into Round 4, 5 and eventually the Quarterfinals. Many big names were knocked yesterday, and it was sufficiently evident all remaining surfers were hungry for the event win.

The remainder of Round 3 was held in the fun, early morning clean conditions at the razor sharp reef break of Cloudbreak. The first few heats and continuation of yesterday’s Round 3 saw veteran Joel Parkinson eliminate fellow Aussie Glenn Hall, John John Florence defeat Sebastian ‘Seabass’ Zietz, Gabriel Medina knock Fred Patacchia and Adriano de Souza send Adrian Buchan to pack his bags. Kolohe Andino also reigned over Aussie ripper Julian Wilson and Taj Burrow proved stronger than Tiago Pires.

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 John John Florence in Round 3 – Photo by ASP

Round 4 saw competitors go back to the three man Heat format, the winner progressing directly to the Quarterfinal’s as the others battle for a place in Round 5. With the playing field now down to 12 surfers, Round 4 started with a boom. American Nat Young came up against reining three times World Champion Mick Fanning and an in form Michel Bourez. Surprisingly, it was a quiet heat for Bourez, as Fanning and Young went head to head. Young opened his campaign snatching a 7.00 and 6.83. As the final seconds approached, Fanning smashed out a series of powerful backhand turns, though fell short of the required high 7 score needed for the win.

I’m already doing better than this event last year so I’m stoked,Young said. “It’s always nice to skip Round 5 and move right into the Quarterfinals.”

Heat 2 of Round 4 saw 11 time World Champion Kelly Slater up against young gun Filipe Toledo and Australian Owen Wright. Toledo, the youngest on tour, immedietly took off jamming two reasonable scores onto the scoreboard. Wright, who had excited the crowd with his great 9 point ride late yesterday afternoon, took off next and smashed two solid turns on the Cloudbreak wall. He later added to his campaign with a great barrel ride, in which Toledo avoided interference before the wave closed out. Kelly, tour veteran and wise man of the ocean was left waiting, before snatching the biggest wave of the Heat, throwing out a variety of strong backhand snaps and manoeuvres. Thanks to that wave, Kelly comfortably advanced directly through to the Quarterfinal’s, leaving Toledo and Wright to battle out in Round 5.

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 World Number 1 Kelly Slater – Photo by ASP

Gabriel Medina, John John Florence and Joel Parkinson next took to the water in Heat 3 of Round 4. An interesting heat indeed, with the two younger aerial masters up against a smooth, controlled Parkinson. Florence struck first with a mid-range score of 5.00, though Medina was quick to answer throwing an incredible ally-oop air then connecting with some strong forehand hacks. This resulted in a 7.17 to take the lead, while Parkinson took the approach of Slater and waited for the right wave. Joel eventually scraped into a few and put some scores on the board, though Medina proved too strong for both, throwing a 8.03 to add to his campaign, leaving the others in need of an almost perfect combination . Joel Parkinson and John John Florence were sent to Round 5, while the Brazilian young gun advanced straight through the Quarterfinals.

The final heat of Round 4 saw Kolohe Andino battle Adriano de Souza and Taj Burrow. De Souza wasted little time and was first on feet, throwing out a powerful display of backhand turns and snaps. This earned a score of 6.67, which Andino quickly over took through a 7.17. Kolohe soon struck again with yet another seven point ride, leaving both Burrow and de Souza in the chase. Taj, who surprisingly wiped out on his first wave, looked uncomfortable and rattled. De Souza continued the chase for the lead, though fell slightly short meaning a position in Round 5.

Round 5 began soon after, with the surfers from Round 4 whom placed second and third. Round 5 proves to yet again be an elimination Round, and is a crucial part of competition for all competitors wanting to take it the whole way. Heat 1 saw Australian’s Mick Fanning and Owen Wright come head to head in the two man structured Heats . Fanning opened with a mid range score of 6.67, Wright not waiting around, soon after delivering a powerful frontside slash and excellent barrel ride, enough for a score of 8.43. Fanning did not let this deter him, opting to wait for a bigger set. It paid off for the Coolie Kid, smashing the open wall through backside manoeuvres and earning the lead with a 8.27. The final minutes saw a crucial exchange of waves go down between the two, both eager to stay in competition. Fanning was able to score another score of 7.63, while Wright came painfully close though could not match Mick’s great performance.

“Owen was my pick to win this contest so I wasn’t happy when I drew him,” Fanning said. “I was lucky that I got a few waves and my board stuck to my feet. My eight popped up perfectly and I was able to do a few turns and get a solid score.”

Winner of 2 separate ASP contests so far in the 2014 season, Michel Bourez came up against Brazilian Filipe Toledo in Heat 2 of Round 5. Bourez continued his strong backhand performances, posting an 8.27, to that of Toledo’s 4.17. After a long lull through the Heat, Bourez eventually managed to get his second score in the mid fives, increasing his lead and making Toledo chase a 9 point ride for victory. The waves were not in the young Brazilians favour, running out of time and allowing Bourez to advance through to the Quarterfinal’s.

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 Bourez getting a little shade – Photo by ASP

John John Florence next came up against Taj Burrow in Heat 3. The highly anticipated Heat saw two generations of the sport going head to head once more. The opening exchange saw Florence take the lead through explosive backhand manoeuvres for a 6.67, besting Burrow’s 6.17. Burrow struggled to hold on after John John blew judges away with an incredible backhand barrel and strong turn, scoring a near perfect 9.87. Taj attempted to deliver the goods, though struggled and came short taking his exit from the Fiji Pro.

Conditions had deteriorated since the early morning Heats, though judges and contest officials still deemed the waves worthy of beginning the Quarterfinal Heats, much to the excitement of spectators. Heat 1 of the Quarter’s was a battle between Mick Fanning and America’s Nat Young. Both surfers have been surfing incredible and no doubt this heat would go down with a challenge. Slow conditions posed for the Heat however, allowing both surfers to only scrape several low to mid range scores. Young began by posting a 3,50 and a 5.33, while Fanning patiently sat and waited, a technique much like close friend Joel Parkinson and also Kelly Slater. With only 12 minute left in the Heat, Fanning finally paddled into a wave, though scored only a 4.57. Nat Young proved lucky, accepting a bigger wave and opening up a beautiful display of forehand turns, enough for a 8.17. Fanning continued to try get the waves needed to progress, though was unable to find them.

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Nat Young unleashes in Quarterfinal 3 – Photo by ASP

Quarterfinal 2 next went down, with the amazing combination of Michel Bourez and Kelly Slater. Both surfers have been absolutely going ham this contest, and a match up between the two would prove not to be disappointing. Bourez has been quoted as the man to beat Slater out there, with his great ability to navigate the long walls and sections of Cloudbreak, much like the master himself. Two started aggressively, both wanting prime position for the opening exchange of waves. Bourez struck first over Slater, producing a great combination of turns and a score of 6.00, quickly again backed up with a 7.33. To everyone’s surprise, the 4 time event winner did not manage to get a score over 4 and even swapped boards in hopes of turning his position around. Bourez sat comfortably, knowing he had just knocked of the main threats from competition. A feeling the Tahitian would be comfortably satisfied with. Kelly Slater finishes the Fiji Pro 2014 in fifth place, as Michel Bourez moves through to the Semi Finals yet again.

“I was thinking before I came here, getting in to the Quarterfinals would be great,” said Bourez. “I thought Kelly (Slater) was going to win it (the event) and I was excited to surf against him in the Quarterfinals. I wish it was a bit bigger, but I’m always happy to win a heat.”

Heat 3 of the Quarterfinal’s saw young guns Gabriel Medina and John John Florence go all in, as the 2 aerial masters threw everything they could at each other, judges and spectators. Unfortunately for both competitors, inconsistent conditions proved relevant, forcing both to chase the dream of advancing even harder. Florence was first to his feet after an exhausting day of competition, once again throwing great backhand turns for a score of 5.40. Medina answered back after 9 minutes, combining his forehand approach with a cheeky barrel cover up. He continued his lead with another wave and score in the fives, completing his second score with a huge end section floater. All in all John John could not match his Brazilian rival and was sent to pack his bags.

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 Gabriel Medina in the Quarterfinals – Photo by ASP

The final heat of Day 3 saw Kolohe Andino face Adriano de Souza in Quarterfinal 4. The winner of this Heat would determine the final position in the Semi Finals of the Fiji Pro 2014. With this in mind, both surfers took their surfing to the next level, with conditions continuing to improve through the late afternoon.  Andino, still thriving from his impressive performance a few weeks earlier in the Rio Pro, was still in sharp form. The youngster produced an incredible combination score of 18.36 of a possible 20, through a continuation of excellent backhand performances. De Souza tried to answer and no doubt supplied some sufficient scores of his own, though could not match the young American’s scores. Kolohe Andino successfully takes the final position in the Semi Finals, as Adriano de Souza leaves in equal 5th place.

The Semi Final Heats are predicted to start early tomorrow morning in similar conditions yet again. Will Bourez take a third event win for the 2014 season? Keep up to date here at the SurfStitch Blog or watch the contest live at the ASP website. The final Rounds of competition are closing in, so get behind your favourite surfers and show your support!

Check out today’s highlights below!