The long-awaited return of the world’s best surfers to the iconic lefthander of Cloudbreak was realized today as the ASP Top 34 took on the open ocean reef pass for Round 1 of the Volcom Fiji Pro.
Event No. 4 of 10 on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour, the Volcom Fiji Pro enjoyed solid six-to-eight foot (2 – 2.5 metre) waves at the primary venue of Cloudbreak today, and there was no shortage of action as the world’s best tore into the conditions on offer.
Mitch Coleborn (AUS), 25, wildcard into the Volcom Fiji Pro, caused the upset of the day, besting reigning 11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 40, as well as dangerous goofy-footer Kai Otton (AUS), 32, in their non-elimination Round 1 bout. After a rough start, including suffering a number of waves on the head, Coleborn rebounded in sensational fashion, grabbing 9.27 followed by an 8.10 for the day’s highest heat total of a 17.37 out of a possible 20.
“The heat ended up good but the start was a nightmare,” Coleborn said. “Then I got that one 9-something and it really turned the heat around for me. Once I pulled in, I knew it was going to happen and I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face after I came out. I still needed a score though and bagged another solid one at the end. I guess I got a couple of waves between all of the beatings I took.”
Coleborn, current No. 62 on the ASP World Rankings, is battling to join the elite ASP Top 34 in the near future, and the young goofy-footer was thrilled to capitalize today on the world-class waves of Fiji as a wildcard.
“Out there on the ledge there are chip shots and you’ve got to be right there under them,” Coleborn said. “That last one was a dream come true. It’s a different thing coming here compared to other contests. You knew a swell was coming and it’s Fiji and you just can’t think a bad thought. I’m happy to be here.”
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 31, current ASP World No. 1, put in a dominant opening round performance, consistently navigating through technical barrels with unmatched authority, advancing directly to Round 3 over Raoni Monteiro (BRA), 30, and wildcard Isei Tokovu (FIJ).
“The second half of the heat was really good,” Parkinson said. “The start was washing through and I thought it was going to be a scrappy one, but it really turned on. I’m really enjoying everything I’m doing. I’ve been here before. I’ve had some disappointments so I’m not really getting myself ready for anything. One by one. This is the best contest out of them all. You post up on an island and fish and surf, it’s amazing. I’m really enjoying myself out here.”
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 24, kicked off the event’s opening heat with a late drop into a deep backhand barrel, earning an excellent 9-point score for the ride en route to his Round 1 victory over Hawaiian Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), 30, and Californian Brett Simpson (USA), 27.
“It was pretty hard out there at first and I’m stoked that I caught two quick ones,” Smith said. “On that one 9, it just opened up real perfect. I lucked into it on the way back out when the boys got stuck inside and it just held open and I came out and got a couple of turns in. I’m pumped, it’s my first time back to Cloudbreak since my rookie year and I couldn’t have had a better start. It felt fun out there and the waves are just pumping.”
John John Florence (HAW), 19, who took out his inaugural ASP WCT victory in Brazil last month, recovered from a recent bout of flu in Fiji to take a come-from-behind victory over fellow rookie Miguel Pupo (BRA), 20, and veteran Kieren Perrow (AUS), 35.
“My confidence is there, but I’ve been sick the last few days,” Florence said. “I had a session the other day, so the confidence is there and it’s kind of not. I went over the falls on that one and it was a good warm up to get kind of shaken up a bit.”
Alejo Muniz (BRA), 22, capped off the day’s action with an impressive performance of backhand surfing to best Michel Bourez (PYF), 26, and Adam Melling (AUS), 27, to advance directly to Round 3.
“The waves are so beautiful today and I’m so stoked to get through that heat,” Muniz said. “I didn’t have a very good start this season, but I got a pretty good result at home in Brazil and hopefully I can keep getting through heats. I don’t want to stop surfing out here so I want to win as many heats as I can.”
Muniz’s performance punctuated an impressive Round 1 showing from the Brazilians, with compatriots Adriano de Souza (BRA), 25, and Heitor Alves (BRA), 30, claiming their respective heats.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 6:30am to assess conditions for a possible 8:30am start.
When competition resumes, up first will be Kelly Slater (USA), 40, up against local wildcard Isei Tokovu (FIJ) in the opening heat of the elimination Round 2.
Highlights from the Volcom Fiji Pro will be available via www.volcom.com/fijipro
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
VOLCOM FIJI PRO ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.67, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 7.67, Brett Simpson (USA) 3.67
Heat 2: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 12.33, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 8.86, Josh Kerr (AUS) 6.10
Heat 3: Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.00, Taylor Knox (USA) 10.16, Taj Burrow (AUS) 4.17
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.60, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 7.10, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 2.93
Heat 5: Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 17.37, Kelly Slater (USA) 13.50, Kai Otton (AUS) 13.27
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.93, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 8.33, Isei Tokovu (FIJ) 2.23
Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.87, Tiago Pires (PRT) 11.50, Yadin Nicol (AUS) 10.26
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.66, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 4.90, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 2.00
Heat 9: John John Florence (HAW) 15.37, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.73, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 6.33
Heat 10: Heitor Alves (BRA) 8.70, Julian Wilson (AUS) 6.70, Kolohe Andino (USA) 5.67
Heat 11: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.80, Travis Logie (ZAF) 7.50, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 6.00
Heat 12: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 15.27, Adam Melling (AUS) 9.97, Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.70
VOLCOM FIJI PRO ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Isei Tokovu (FIJ)
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Willian Cardoso (BRA)
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 5: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Heat 7: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 8: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 9: Tiago Pires (PRT) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 10: Brett Simpson (USA) vs. Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 11: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 12: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Photo: Mitch Coleborn (AUS), 25, wildcard into the Volcom Fiji Pro, took top honors today, besting reigning 11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 40, and dangerous goofy-footer Kai Otton (AUS), 32, in Round 1 of competition.