CLOUDBREAK/Fiji (Monday, May 28, 2012) – The world’s best surfers will return to idyllic breaks of Cloudbreak and Restaurants next week for the highly-anticipated Volcom Fiji Pro, running from June 3 – 15, 2012.
Event No. 4 of 10 on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour, the Volcom Fiji Pro returns the ASP Top 34 to the Fijian islands after a five-year hiatus, with the Australians currently lead the charge, occupying four of the Top 5 spots in the world.
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 31, four-time ASP World Runner-Up, has once again been in sterling form this season, placing 5th, 3rd and 2nd respectively in the opening three events of the year and currently holds the frontrunner position on the elite ASP World Championship Tour ratings.
“The big difference this year is that there are a whole bunch of guys who’ve put their hands up in the ratings and there are some new guys in there like Kerrzy (Josh Kerr) and John John (Florence) who really add a new flavor to it,” Parkinson said. “You could throw a blanket over the Top 10 at the moment it’s that close, so leading the ratings right now doesn’t mean too much.”
When the elite surfers last contested at Cloudbreak in 2008, Parkinson finished Equal 5th, and the Australian frontrunner has since made an annual pilgrimage to the islands, retaining a familiarity with the lineups.
“I love the waves in Fiji,” Parkinson said. “How could you not? I take the family to Tavarua for a couple of weeks holiday every year so I’ve surfed Cloudbreak a fair bit over the years. It’s such a beautiful wave – a big, open oceanic left – and so much fun to surf.”
While Parkinson and his countrymen hold the bulk of the current top spots on the ASP World Championship Tour ratings, he admits that anyone in the ASP Top 34 could do damage in Fiji.
“I reckon the Hobgood brothers (C.J. and Damien) are amazing out there, they read the place better than probably anyone, and of course Kelly (Slater) has been surfing the place since he was a kid so he’s got it pretty dialed too,” Parkinson said. “But it’ll be interesting because it’s been five years since the last Fiji contest, so there are a bunch of guys on tour now who haven’t surfed the place and one of those guys might surprise us.”
Mick Fanning (AUS), 30, two-time ASP World Champion and Parkinson’s Gold Coast stablemate, rebounded from an uncharacteristic opening performance at Snapper Rocks to take out the second stop at Bells Beach before placing Equal 3rd in Rio de Janeiro. Fanning currently sits at the ASP World No. 2 position heading into the Volcom Fiji Pro.
“The past couple of years I’ve had pretty poor starts so I’m feeling good about being in the position I am currently,” Fanning said. “But it’s such a long year so I constantly remind myself of that so I don’t get ahead of myself and lose focus.”
Fanning shares the enthusiasm of his ASP Top 34 competitors in returning to Fiji and agrees with Parkinson that any surfer in the draw can perform at Cloudbreak and Restaurants.
“The waves in Fiji are some of the best I’ve experienced in competition,” Fanning said. “Cloudbreak and Restaurants are really different waves. I love the power, unpredictability and challenge of surfing Cloudbreak. Restaurants is more perfect but breaks in really shallow water. Both waves are world class so hopefully the swell pulses and we get both on.”
“I think the Hobgoods are going to be deadly,” Fanning said. “It’s been a while but when you think back to years past those guys were always real contenders in Fiji. I think they’ll be super inspired with this stop back on the schedule and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re both in the finals. The other surfer we’re all expecting big things from is John John (Florence). After a win in Brazil his confidence will be soaring and now he’s going to be surfing the kind of wave that suit his style and approach perfectly. Can’t wait to see him out there.”
Josh Kerr (AUS), 28, current ASP World No. 3, has continued to build upon last season’s 8th place finish, impressing everyone with his abilities and performances at the diverse venues on tour.
“I guess I’ve finally found a balance where I’m comfortable performing in heats,” Kerr said. “I’m into my second year of my third go-around on tour at the moment and to find myself at No. 3 is a little surprising. That said, I’ve always felt that I can perform at all the spots. I’ve actually never had the opportunity to compete in Fiji as it wasn’t running in my previous times in tour so I’m really excited to get the chance to surf it and hopefully we score it good.”
Mitch Coleborn (AUS), 25, has been granted one of two wildcards into the Volcom Fiji Pro, and the progressive goofy-footer is excited for the opportunity to mix it up with the world’s best in one of the world’s very best waves.
“Tavarua is one of my favorite places in the world,” Coleborn said.. “To compete at a world-class wave makes for a really even playing field. Everyone will get sick waves, from the vets to the rookies; it will come down to your surfing and that keeps match-ups real fair. I can’t wait.”
The remaining wildcard will go to a local surfer who is deemed the overall champion of three separate trial events run by the Fiji Surfing Association (FSA). Two of the three events have already commenced, with the final event taking place in the next week. Local surfers Inia Nakalevu, Isei Tokovou, Aca Raculo and Paul Chonsue are all in close running for the lone wildcard spot.
Jadson Andre (BRA), 22, and Dusty Payne (HAW), 23, have withdrawn from the event due to injury. They will be replaced by Willian Cardoso (BRA), 26, and Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), 30, respectively.
The Volcom Fiji Pro will take place from June 3 – 15, 2012 and will be webcast LIVE via www.volcom.com/fijipro