2014 Fiji Pro: round one wrap
Story by Craig Jarvis After a few days hanging on the beach in Fiji, getting some sun and drinking beer and a few Skulldraggers, most of the top surfers in the world just seemed stoked to be back in the water at last. Small and windy waves reeling down the Cloudbreak reef and running dry on […]
Story by Craig Jarvis
After a few days hanging on the beach in Fiji, getting some sun and drinking beer and a few Skulldraggers, most of the top surfers in the world just seemed stoked to be back in the water at last. Small and windy waves reeling down the Cloudbreak reef and running dry on the inside was just fine for them. No complaints. While we, as spectators, see them as competitive machines who are vying for points and prize money, let’s not forget that they simply need to surf as much as us, or more so. A surf is a surf. Windy and small Cloudbreak it is. Round one it was.
The small and screaming offshore waves didn’t seem to suit Sebastian Zietz at first. He was chugging through the early moments of his heat, with one average score on the board. Sitting at the bottom of the heat, Seabass lucked into a long wall, and ‘got busy’, as Pottz would say, a few times this morning, pulling off seven energetic and tight turns for a score of 8.07 to jump from third to first. Busy working through his second year on tour, Seabass looks comfortable and established, and it appeared to be this very calmness that saw him go from last to first in his heat. “It still feels like it’s pretty new, but I’m feeling pretty good and stoked to be back at Tavarua,” said Seabass about the tour and Fiji. “Fiji is definitely one of the favourite spots on the tour and everyone loves it here. It’s really important to win the first round, especially looking at the forecast. I don’t want to be stuck in round two in small surf next week. The wind was crazy out there though. You couldn’t really see it until you get out there into the line-up. You just have to be in the wave, and get going.”
Jordy’s first wave was one of a determined winner. He knows now that the only way to win is to throw it all at the judges, create a big margin, and leave no doubt in their minds whatsoever that he shouldn’t be an outright winner. “You have to throw everything at them and the kitchen sink,” said Jordy after an emphatic early round win in Rio. Seven powerful turns saw him drop a 7.93 on his first wave and set the bar for the heat. Not one to rest, Jordy picked up a sick pigdog tube as a follow-up, the judges loved it, and it saw him awarded a 9.2. Just like that the heat was in the bag for the big South African with a point to prove. Miguel Pupo and Aritz Aranburu were left sitting in the offshore spray as Jordy banked the highest heat score of the day.
After a quarterfinals result in Fiji last year, Jordy is keen on going one better. He’s looking on track. So is Kelly on track, and showing that determination, that weird, overwhelming presence that he gets when his brain decides that it’s time to win. It’s like there is a cloud of tiny asteroids whirring around his head, protecting him from outside influence and leaving him to stew within his own hot bubble of focus and absolute gut desire to win. In his heat there were still some good-sized waves against Jeremy Flores and local legend and trials winner Isei Tokovou. Kelly didn’t muck around, and our defending event champion sent Jeremy and Isei heading for the detested round two scenario. One would think that with Kelly knowing that particular reef so well that his mind might have a tendency to drift, to not focus, as he is so familiar with it, and it has been said many times before, that familiarity breeds contempt. Not so with Kelly. “I tend to stay pretty focused,” mused Kelly in dialogue with Stab. “In fact, I probably think less and just go with it more.”
While on the subject of Kelly, we cautiously ventured into stickerless territory, wondering if it was changing his game, making him determined, or making him more relaxed. “To be honest, I’m not sure if it changes things much,” said Kelly. “At first it was weird, but it’s getting comfortable.”
Knowing Kelly is thinking of the year ahead, and as excited and keen for JBay as the next guy, we asked him for a few words on JBay. Ever succinct, Kelly ventured a few words; “People to keep an eye on in JBay? Jordy Bru, and Parko.”
Back at Cloudbreak, as the end of round one approached, there was much interest in whether it was going to be straight into round two, or if the surfers were going to be herded towards Happy Hour. Julian found that elusive rhythm against Bede Durbidge and Jadson Andre, as a couple of pulses appeared on the reef. Bede has also shown strong surfing and a new lease on his competitive life of late, surfing somewhat recklessly compared to usual, which is very pleasing to watch. It wasn’t enough to get on top of Jay Dub. Despite his determination, Bede was sent in to prepare for the second round along with Jadson.
The final heat of the day was another tight affair, as most heats in most World Tour are, and looking back, that heat description of mine is very tired and repetitive isn’t it? I wish I knew more flowery words. Still, CJ looked the part, with one particular wave standing out. A strong forehand power-carve on the outside, a big wrap cuttie, a little wheelie-air over the shallows and a nice little five-odd point score. Pocket five-odds saw Clifton coming in at 10.54 at midway through the heat. With JJF still in the lead, Travis started coming on strong, as he is prone to do these days. Surfing a slightly longer board than normal, Travis was chasing a 6.01 for the lead. Despite a concerted effort, Trav was kept at bay and John John remained in front. In the dying seconds, CJ picked up a set wave, rode the barrel for a relatively obscene length of time, but didn’t make it out of what would have been a heat winner. Looking for a 6.8 on the buzzer, it wasn’t enough. “I couldn’t hear much out there in the wind, but I’m stoked to get through the heat,” said John John. “I‘d be super stoked to make a final here.”
A windswept Ronnie Blakey and all of the surfers thus bolted forthright for the shore after a long day in the wind, and made respective beelines for the bar that is apparently the happiest place in the world.
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