A Competitive Guide To Stalling At Cloudbreak
Plus, the full breakdown from a busy day one at the Outerknown Fiji Pro.
About time. Whoever it was on the WSL scheduling committee who originally came up with the idea of putting Rio right before Fiji deserves some sort of recognition. Why? The setting goes from a beach town filled with rabid fans to a remote island paradise. And the surf transforms from endless backwash to rifling Cloudbreak. Talk about an ideal contrast for generating hype.
You could almost feel the energy through the webcast. Despite the cloudy skies, the channel was bursting with boats and skis alike. All of which were buzzing around either getting camera angles, taxiing competitors, housing Barton Lynch, or simply parking themselves to enjoy the show. The prominent judging tower commanding over it all like some corporatised Barad-dûr.
References aside, swell was on tap for the opening day of the Outerknown Fiji Pro. And while the conditions were a bit wonky, with more closeouts coming through than not, there were plenty of exciting rides. Also, Kelly Slater and Italo Ferreira made an official return to competition. That combination alone almost makes you want to break out into a Meke. Anyways, here’s how day one of the WSL’s live-streamed monopoly of Cloudbreak went down:
Heats one through six kicked off the start of the day, here’s who won during that time and why.
Italo Ferreira came back from injury with motivation, sniffing out the biggest barrel of the heat, a 6.10. Matt Wilkinson won with a total 12.50 because he’s finally back surfing on his forehand and Jeremy Flores was only able to follow-up his 6.17 with a 1.57. Owen Wright won because his Cloudbreak muscle memory from 2015 kicked back in, and he clearly looked and felt good, “Getting his feet back in Fiji again,” he said.
Adriano De Souza took out Kanoa Igarashi and Bino Lopes with a double cover-up that Richie Porta liked enough to give him a 5.83 for, which let Adriano finish with a heat-high 10.83 total. Jordy Smith edged past Yago Dora and Jack Freestone because the former couldn’t follow up a 7.00 with anything higher than a 2.43 and the latter couldn’t find a score higher than a 2.77 while also breaking his board. John John Florence won his heat six meeting against Tevita Gukilau and Josh Kerr because the waves at crossed up, double-overhead Cloudbreak, according to him, “Are fun.”
Heats six through 12 followed, here’s who lost and why.
Jadson Andre and Joel Parkinson couldn’t get past rookie Frederico Morais in heat seven because they both couldn’t get a double digit score total while Fred paddled away to round three with just a 10.44. Nat Young and Wiggolly Dantas finished second and third in their round one heat, respectively, because of poor wave selection and having to face the unfortunate reality that is going up against Gabriel Medina in overhead Cloudbreak. Conner Coffin and Stu Kennedy lost to Julian Wilson in heat nine because Jules caught one of the highest scoring waves of round one, a 9.50.
Ian Gouveia lost to Connor O’Leary because he couldn’t properly utilize his priority and Connor has been training in Fiji for some time now and feels good, “Coming over to get a few barrels.” And in a heat that had no right being the most exciting and highest-scoring of the day, Miguel Pupo and Adrian Buchan fell to Michel Bourez; who dropped one of the craftiest 9.17’s in recent memory, dragging his back foot in the Cloudbreak face to stall for a massive cover-up. Video evidence below:
Why a back-foot stall? “I only do that when the waves are perfect,” Michel told Strider afterward. “Sometimes when you drag your ass in the water, it doesn’t stop you too much. That’s why I put my foot in.” In the final heat of round one, Kelly Slater fell behind Mick Fanning and Bede Durbidge, respectively, because he wasn’t able to convert rides into useful scores while Mick picked up an 8.00 and 5.93 for a combined 13.93. Normally a low score total, but enough to edge past Bede’s combined 9.13 and Kelly’s 5.20.
Afterward, contest organisers decided to carry on into round two, running heat one between Kolohe Andino and Tevita Gukilau before conditions quickly deteriorated and they called off competition for the day. Kolohe would win handily, gathering a collected 13.50 compared to the local wildcard’s 4.16.
Here are the official numbers from today, with a look towards the remainder of round two:
Heat one: Italo Ferreira 11.43, Kolohe Andino 11.00, Joan Duru 3.94.
Heat two: Matt Wilkinson 12.50, Jeremy Flores 7.74, Ethan Ewing 6.90.
Heat three: Owen Wright 14.0, Leonardo Fioravanti 12.60, Ezekiel Lau 8.17.
Heat four: Adriano de Souza 10.83, Kanoa Igarashi 7.43, Bino Lopes 3.30.
Heat five: Jordy Smith 12.16, Yago Dora 9.43, Jack Freestone 5.10.
Heat six: John John Florence 14.84, Tevita Gukilau 10.17, Josh Kerr 8.33.
Heat seven: Frederico Morais 10.44, Jadson Andre 9.33, Joel Parkinson 8.60.
Heat eight: Gabriel Medina 12.00, Nat Young 7.43, Wiggolly Dantas 5.63.
Heat nine: Julian Wilson 16.33, Conner Coffin 15.27, Stuart Kennedy 8.90.
Heat 10: Connor O’Leary 11.00, Ian Gouveia 9.27, Sebastian Zeitz 8.34.
Heat 11: Michel Bourez 18.70, Miguel Pupo 17.50, Adrian Buchan 12.33.
Heat 12: Mick Fanning 13.93, Bede Durbidge 9.13, Kelly Slater 5.20.
Heat one: Kolohe Andino 13.50, Tevita Gukilau 4.16.
Heat two: Joel Parkinson, Yago Dora.
Heat three: Sebastian Zietz, Bino Lopes.
Heat four: Adrian Buchan, Leonardo Fioravanti.
Heat five: Kelly Slater, Ethan Ewing.
Heat six: Conner Coffin, Joan Duru.
Heat seven: Wiggolly Dantas, Jadson Andre.
Heat eight: Jeremy Flores, Nat Young.
Heat nine: Ezekiel Lau, Stuart Kennedy.
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