Stab Magazine | The Fiji Pro And The Golden Age Of Women’s Surfing

The Fiji Pro And The Golden Age Of Women’s Surfing

Jeremy Flores’ investment in Johanne Defay pays off!

news // Jun 3, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Johanne Defay just won the Fiji Women’s Pro in fabulous form! 2016 is undoubtedly a golden age in women’s surfing: The Women’s World Tour competitors have never surfed better, and the sport has never looked more glamorous than it did during the Fiji event; athletic, beautiful and charismatic gals, many of whom had obviously done time familiarising with Cloudbreak since last year’s event, floating in a tropical blue channel between making it very hard for each other to progress through heats. What’s not to love? 

Beth Fiji Ed Sloane

“The hardships (Beth) overcomes to perform at the level she does in the ocean is arguably unparalleled in men’s or women’s sport,” wrote Kelly Slater on Instagram. Photo: WSL/Ed Sloane

As you’ve already read, wildcard Beth Hamilton was firing. The Hawaiian goofyfooter, who lost her arm in a 2003 shark attack, beat Tyler Wright, Steph Gilmore and Nikki Van Dijk on her way to a semis finish (as well as toppling eventual winner Johanne Defay in the non-elimination round three). “Coming here and competing is a dream come true and I’m stoked with how I did,” said Beth. “The women on the Championship Tour are surfing amazing right now and the level continues to get better and better. I have so much respect for all the girls and it has been an amazing time here. I’m so thankful for my husband’s and family’s support and all of my fans for cheering me on. It has been an incredible experience.”

BB Fiji CEstari

Tall, swooping and dominant; Bianca Buitendag’s trip to Namibia this year definitely paid off. WSL/Cestari

Bianca Buitendag was another competitor who, despite bowing out in the semifinals, certainly deserves a special mention. The tall South-African goofyfooter knocked Coco Ho and Sally Fitzgibbons en route to the semis where, despite clocking two eights, fell to a very in-form Carissa Moore. “Learning from the best, like Carissa, will help me improve,” said B. “The way Carissa approaches the lip is much more committed and critical to what I had done. Definitely that and spending more time on lefts, because I don’t do that as often. There is so much to learn from all of these girls and I am so happy to be a part of it.”

Riss Fiji Dean Walters

Carissa was dropping nines at Cloudbreak like it was no one’s biz. WSL/Dean Walters

Yeah, Riss was really moving out there. After tearing through round one, she detonated in round three with an 18.46 total, before putting 19 points on the board against Loz Enever in the quarters and then again against Bianca in the semis. “Fiji has been a challenging event for me in past years so it felt great to get some solid waves and big scores under my belt here,” said Riss. “Big thanks to my coach, CJ Hobgood, and to my support team at home.”

Johanne Fiji 1 cestari

Main sponsor: Jeremy Flores. And, win number deux for Jo! WSL/Cestari

But it was France’s Johanne Defay who put a stop to Carissa’s run to take her second-ever World Tour event win. Johanne’s main sponsor, in case you’re unaware, is fellow Frenchman Jeremy Flores, who pays for her travel and accommodation (asking nothing in return – as if you needed another reason to love J-Flo). Johanne’s breezy backhand was a pleasure to watch, beating current world number one Courtney Conlogue in the quarters, before hammering past Beth Hamilton in the semis with a 9.20 and an 8.27 to meet Carissa in the final. It was there that she really peaked, putting two eights on the board and dominating the heat, leaving Carissa in an uncharacteristic combo situation.

Jo Riss Fiji Sloane

(some of) The men could probs learn a few things from the women about losing graciously. WSL/Ed Sloane

“I’ve never beat Carissa before,” said Johanne. “She is such an amazing surfer and she took 9-point rides in every heat. It’s crazy and I’m so happy. I want to thank my family because they have been up all night watching. The waves were really incredible for us this year – we’re so fortunate. All the girls were ripping. I felt like I wasn’t surfing very smart heats leading up to the Final. I was getting good waves at the end and advancing, so I wanted to start strong in the Final. I’m so stoked right now.”

Jo BB Fiji Sloane

Cute gal pals celebrate: Bianca and Johanne. WSL/Ed Sloane

Fiji Women’s Pro Final Results:
1 – Johanne Defay (FRA) 17.10
2 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 10.70 

Fiji Women’s Pro Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 17.47 def. Bethany Hamilton (HAW) 11.06
SF 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 19.04 def. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 16.60 

Fiji Women’s Pro Quarterfinal Results:
Heat 1: Bethany Hamilton (HAW) 12.33 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 11.26
Heat 2: Johanne Defay (FRA) 15.07 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.00
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 19.03 def. Laura Enever (AUS) 15.77
Heat 4: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 14.40 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 10.67

Joanne Fiji Win Sloane

How to celebrate a win, Fijian-style. WSL/Ed Sloane

2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Top 5 (after Fiji Women’s Pro):
Courtney Conlogue (USA) 37,700 pts
Tyler Wright (AUS) 36,950 pts
Carissa Moore (HAW) 34,000 pts
Johanne Defay (FRA) 28,650 pts
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 28,150 pts


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