Kelly Slater was victorious Monday in the Volcom Fiji Pro at Tavarua, but the bigger story was the massive swell that slammed the remote island earlier during the ASP World Championship Tour competition. The waves on Friday were so large and powerful that the contest was postponed after two heats, but that did not prevent a handful of competitors and some of the world’s premier big-wave riders from participating in the most epic free-surfing session ever experienced at Tavarua.
One of many surfboards shattered to pieces during this now legendary afternoon in Fiji was the one seen dangling on the top of this beast (the surfboard is eight feet long). Its owner, in an effort to escape a similar fate, dove deep under the massive wall of water. Photo: ASP/Robertson
“Those were the biggest, most perfect waves I’ve ever surfed,” said Bede Durbidge, who was in the first of two heats before contest organizers postponed the competition. “It was pretty nerve-wracking being first up… You have to be prepared to go.”
Raoni Monteiro and Kai Otton were in the second heat. Monteiro suffered a knee injury during a vicious wipeout. Otton, after his successful ride to end the heat, stated: “If that wave didn’t come in for me at the end, that would have been it for me. Thankfully it did and I survive to surf another day.”
The postponement opened the Tavarua surf spot, named Cloudbreak, to big-wave specialists and their longer surfboards, a few of which were loaned to ASP competition surfers.
Wave faces measuring 30 feet heaved over the reef, generating enticingly beautiful barrels but with potentially serious consequences for those caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Fortunately, there were no serious injuries, while there were several incredible barrel rides (see Ramon Navarro’s ride at about the 1:00 mark).
Greg Long, a renowned big-wave veteran from Southern California, described Friday as the best day of big-wave surfing he had ever seen.
But the swell slowly waned and for those who may be interested, the waves had dropped to 4-6 feet on Monday, when Slater prevailed over Gabriel Medina to win the Volcom Fiji Pro.
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