The Volcom Fiji Pro, stop number four of the ASP World Tour, got underway Sunday morning at in solid conditions at one of world’s most revered reef breaks, called Cloud Break, which rest two miles off the tiny heart-shaped island in the South Pacific.
John John Florence will be competing for the first time at Tavarua. The 19-year-old Hawaiian known for his tube-riding prowess is coming in hot after a win in Brazil. To watch the live feed of the Volcom Fiji Pro click the image.
It’s the tour’s first return to the idyllic location since 2008. And while many of the sport’s most familiar faces (Kelly Slater, CJ and Damien Hobgood, Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning) are happy to be returning to their favorite tour stop, they’re also welcoming a healthy pack of fresh young competitors making their first , including Triple Crown champion John John Florence, Australians Julian Wilson and Josh Kerr, and talented young upstarts like Gabriel Medina and Kolohe Andino.
With a wave forecast promising plenty of swell, the Volcom Fiji Pro could be completed within the first four days of its 10-day waiting period. Sunday morning’s conditions are hefty, and surfers were paying their dues. Brett Simpson broke his leash, lost his board on the reef, and only caught one wave by the time the half-hour heat was over. Meanwhile South African Jordy Smith and Hawaiian Fred Patacchia were trading barbs, nabbing some good tubes.
CJ Hobgood, who’s been surfing Tavarua since the age of 15, looked incredibly strong in his first-round heat with his strong tube-riding performance that makes him look like an early favorite. The elder Hobgood has made the final twice at Tavarua, in 2008 and 2005, losing to Kelly Slater both times. He’s finished in 3rd three times, but has yet to find the winner’s circle. Meanwhile, CJ’s brother Damien is a two-time winner on Tavarua.
Of course, the last time the event was held here in Tavarua, Kelly Slater won, en route to capturing his 9th world title.
The webcast will be running all day once the contest horn rings in Fiji (roughly 1:00 pm PSD).