CLOUDBREAK, Tavarua/Fiji (Monday, June 4, 2012) - Cloudbreak turned on once again for the world's best surfers as the opening 10 heats of the elimination Round 2 of the Volcom Fiji Pro were completed in clean four-to-six foot (1 - 1.5 metre) waves at the primary event venue.
Event No. 4 of 10 on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour, the Volcom Fiji Pro took advantage of the conditions on offer at Cloudbreak with the top seeds controlling the day's tempo, taking nine wins from 10 heats.
Julian Wilson (AUS), 23, ASP Dream Tour sophomore and current ASP World No. 11, quickly found a rhythm in the Cloudbreak lineup this morning, earning a 9.47 and 9.10 for two lengthy backhand barrels to eliminate Patrick Gudauskas (USA), 26, in a one-sided affair while earning the highest heat total of Volcom Fiji Pro competition, 18.57 out of 20.
"Conditions are really good today," Wilson said. "It's pretty perfect. I had a crappy time yesterday and was really frustrated. It felt good to have that good start. My first wave was good and then I backed it up with another one. It felt great to have a couple of scores and to get that heat under the belt."
Although 2012 marks Wilson's inaugural trip to the Fijian islands, the young Australian exhibited little inexperience in the open ocean lineup today.
"It was only my fourth surf out there and I'm getting to know it better," Wilson said. "I can't believe I haven't been here before. I'm getting a hard time from the boys because I'm such a rookie here. The people are amazing on both of the islands. The weather is great, the waves are great and I'm having a good time."
Wilson will face Miguel Pupo (BRA), 20, when Volcom Fiji Pro competition resumes.
Gabriel Medina (BRA), 18, secured the event's first Perfect 10 this afternoon for an incredibly long forehand barrel punctuated by some solid turns. Medina built upon this opening ride's momentum to secure the Round 2 win over fellow rookie Yadin Nicol (AUS), 26, and advance directly to Round 3.
"That was sick," Medina said. "I'm stoked to get that 10 and make the heat. I'm having a lot of fun. I didn't know I was going to make it on that one and I just went for it. This is my second time to Fiji and I heard there is a swell coming. I think it would be fun if they ran at Restaurants too."
Medina will face fellow Brazilian Alejo Muniz (BRA), 22, in Round 3 of competition.
Josh Kerr (AUS), 28, suffered a suspected grade-2 ankle tear in his opening Volcom Fiji Pro heat yesterday, but withstood the pain this morning to claim a Round 2 victory over veteran campaigner Taylor Knox (USA), 41, to advance to Round 3.
"I was worried because the doctor told me my ankle recovery was 8 to 12 weeks out," Kerr said. "It feels super tender and I'm having non-stop work done. It's really taped up and I don't have much mobility with it at the moment. I got bounced up in the barrel and that didn't feel very good, but I'm happy to get through that one."
Tiago Pires (PRT), 32, veteran ASP World Championship Tour campaigner, survived a hard-fought heat over rookie sensation Kolohe Andino (USA), 18, this afternoon. Following a restart due to inconsistent swell, the two surfers attempted to battle the rapidly-changing conditions with Pires ousting the young Californian and advancing through to Round 3.
"I thought it was going to be a fun heat between Kolohe (Andino) and I but we had the restart and no sets came and then that wind came and changed the look of the wave," Pires said. "I feel bad for Kolohe. No one likes to lose in these types of conditions. I'm happy to make the heat though. I had a tough loss to Owen (Wright) yesterday and I'm happy to keep going in this amazing event."
Pires has drawn two-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS), 31, in Round 3 of competition.
Kelly Slater (USA), 40, reigning 11-time ASP World Champion, rebounded from an uncharacteristic Round 1 loss yesterday to post a convincing Round 2 win over local wildcard Isei Tokovu (FIJ). While the scores didn't necessarily reflect it, Slater admitted that Tokovu had the talent and opportunity to mix it up with the world's best at Cloudbreak.
"It feels mellow out there and all of a sudden a 6-foot bomb comes through," Slater said. "Isei (Tokovu) would have got a 10 on that bomb, but it was just a little too fast. There's still a lot of energy out there, but it's still a little slow. You can't underestimate a local guy in these contests, they surf here all the time and know which ones are the best waves."
Slater, who was forced to withdraw from the previous ASP WCT event in Rio de Janeiro due to a laceration to his foot, has been battling a Fijian stomach flu and is hoping to be in top shape for the latter rounds of competition.
"I'm feeling not quite 100 percent, I didn't feel great yesterday and my legs were still a little shaky," Slater said. "It's no excuse for the Round 1 heat because Mitch (Coleborn) was totally in tune and just schooled us out there. It's just about catching the best waves. I think we'll have a few lay days and then there's going to be a giant swell. My foot is better and when the swell kicks, in I have some big boards in the 7'6" to 8'6" range ready for it."
Slater will take on lethal goofy-footer Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), 30, in Round 3 of the Volcom Fiji Pro.
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 Bede Durbidge (AUS), 29, up against Adam Melling (AUS), 27, in Heat 11 of 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 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.90 def. Isei Tokovu (FIJ) 6.10
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.66 def. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 8.07
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.00 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 8.56
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 18.57 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 7.50
Heat 5: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 13.67 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.54
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.67 def. Yadin Nicol (AUS) 9.37
Heat 7: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 16.96 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.76
Heat 8: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 17.04 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 16.23
Heat 9: Tiago Pires (PRT) 11.00 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 5.93
Heat 10: Brett Simpson (USA) 12.40 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 12.20
VOLCOM FIJI PRO REMAINING ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 11: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 12: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
VOLCOM FIJI PRO ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. TBD
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Damien Hobgood (USA)
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 5: Alejo Muniz (BRA) vs. Gabriel Medina (BRA)
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Mitch Coleborn (AUS)
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Heitor Alves (BRA)
Heat 9: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 10: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 11: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 12: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. TBD