2005 Globe WCT Fiji: Round 1 Wrap-Up


After languishing like a sleeping giant for almost a week, the world-famous lefthanders of Cloudbreak roared into action today to produce a thrilling start to the inaugural Globe WCT Fiji, the ocean's zest and power duly imitated by great surfing from pro surfing's own giants. After the preceding Globe trials produced the event's first perfect 10-point ride, the top seeds of Foster's Men's World Tour Top 45 instantly stamped their brilliance to come home with victories in eight of the 10 round one heats conducted, with the Australian core particularly dominant.

After a barrel-storming start from Florida's accomplished charger Cory Lopez in heat one, Australians Luke Stedman, Nathan Hedge, Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow, current ratings leader Trent Munro, and former event winner Mick Lowe, all finished victors in the their respective three-man heats.

The Aussie-athon was only abbreviated when reigning and three-times world champion Andy Irons, and his elder peer six-times world champion Kelly Slater put on typically brilliant performances in heats eight and nine, to both move straight through to round three.

Joel Parkinson then resumed the Aussie dominance with a typical stylish and committed victory in heat 10, the final heat of the day, to relegate Hawaii's renowned Bruce Irons and Australian triallist and former Top45 surfer Luke Hitchings.

Hitchings and Florida's Peter Mendia were the two top-scoring triallists from the cumulative two rounds of four man heats that began the day's competition, with 12 hopefuls having their top-scoring ride from each round added together with their single highest scoring second wave, to sort the honour and accomplishment of claiming the two designated wildcard slots in the draw.

Thirty year-old Mendia from West Palm Beach eclipsed all with a stunning 10 point ride in the final minutes of his first heat. Adding to an earlier 8.67 yielded from some strong turns, the solidly built goofy-footer sailed into a virtually unassailable position at the end of the first round of three heats. At the end of the two rounds he capped the aggregate score totals with 23.67, to snatch a position in the Globe WCT Fiji along with Hitchings on 22.59. The affable Adam Robertson from countryside Victoria came in third, but empty-handed just 0.52 points behind.

Mendia's ten point ride will no doubt be the first of many this week as the Globe WCT Fiji continues on with assured sizeable swell forecast for the remainder of its waiting period, a massive swell of 'Perfect {{{Storm}}}' proportions expected early next week.

Mendia did some perfect storming of his own today however, deftly reading a rapidly running wall in his opening heat. Racing through two hovering sections to pull in under Cloudbreak's swiftly peeling lip at breakneck speed, Mendia disappeared for a solid five or six second run behind the curtain across the inside of the high tide reef for the almost instant reward of 10 points.

"I'm so stoked! I nearly blew that 10 pointer though, by doing a snap halfway along it," said Mendia. "Luckily I changed my mind at the last second and kept pumping for speed. I kept racing, pulled in and it just kept going and going, and I was lucky to come out at the other end.

Mendia was later drawn in heat nine against Kelly Slater and Australia's Richie Lovett, scoring a 9.30 for his best wave, to finish second in the three-man exchange, but still distant of Slater who was surfing phenomenally banking a 9.63 and 9.00 for his two counters. Despite the nonchalance he sometimes feigns, it is very obvious that Mr.Slater, Freak of Freaks, is definitely back this year.

His major stumbling block to claiming a seventh world title, our reigning champ Andy Irons had a brilliant heat of his own though, easily comboing his foes Darren O'Rafferty (AUS) and local wildcard Isei Tokovou. Mixing bizarre floaters with some heavyweight trademark snaps, Irons had an 8.{{{57}}} and 8.33 to comfortably earn the right to have round two off.

Current ratings leader Trent Munro (AUS) continued his cool and calculated campaign in a heat six today, coming in ahead of Hawaiian guru Sunny Garcia and exciting young Brazilian Bernado 'Little Piggy' Pigmeu, who came in third but impressed just the same.

"Conditions were really hard out there because the wind was really strong for our heat," said Munro . "I was of two minds with what board to ride, and I knew Sunny would be hard to beat too, because he's a lot bigger than me and rides bigger boards, so he could drive through those bumps more easily. It was tough."

Young Bernado is the leading edge of Brazil's upcoming world-class junior set, though he had plenty to aspire to this morning watching his elder Peterson Rosa who notched a 9.5 in the first heat of the day, with two absolutely massive top turns connected with carving style on a freakish triple-overhead wall.

Speaking of carving, and leading edges, Australia's Nathan Hedge continued his enlivened form after his third placing in Tahiti, impressing in his opening heat today throwing his 6'3" Chilli through strong flying snaps and pittage to outpoint his rivals Tim Reyes (USA) and Marcelo Nunes (BRZ). He surfed like a tradesman, always in the right spot with moves to match opportunities.

"I missed this event last year after dislocating my shoulder in Tahiti, and so I've really been hanging to get back here, and really waiting in anticipation to surf Cloudbreak," said Hedge. "Since my first wave ever at this joint I've been having good thoughts about the place and so, yeah, I'm back!"

"There was a bit of a tussle right before the start of the heat, the boys wanting to paddle me up the point, but I stood my ground. I knew where I wanted to be sitting on the reef, and kept the inside right from the start, so I guess it was a bit of a tactical win. You make your own luck if you're sitting in the right spot when the sets come through."

As always here, the sets had no pattern to them here today, some heats pumping and blessed with multiple solid 5-6'+ waves, others devoid of too much challenging. Australia's Mick Lowe summed it up well after winning a goofy juggernaut heat over {{{CJ}}} Hobgood (USA) and Brazil's Guilherme Herdy.

"It's the old South Pacific pulse. It's incredible when it feels like pulsing, but then you can sit out there and not see a set for half an hour. It has a mind of its own," said Lowey, relaxing in the Tavarua spa with the boys after the completion of the day's competition.

1 – Cory Lopez
2 – Peterson Rosa
3 – Shea Lopez

Heat # 2
1 – Luke Stedman
2 – Tom Whitaker
3 – Phillip MacDonald

Heat # 3
1 – Nathan Hedge
2 – Marcelo Nunes
3 – Tim Reyes

Heat # 4
1 – Mick Fanning
2 – Kirk Flintoff
3 – Kalani Robb

Heat # 5
1 – Taj Burrow
2 – Troy Brooks
3 – Renan Rocha

Heat # 6
1 – Trent Munro
2 – Sunny Garcia
3 – Bernardo Pigmeu

Heat # 7
1 – Michael Lowe
2 – CJ Hobgood
3 – Guilherme Herdy

Heat # 8
1 – Andy Irons
2 – Darren O’Rafferty
3 – Isei Tokovou

Heat # 9
1 – Kelly Slater
2 – Peter Mendia
3 – Richard Lovett

Heat #10
1 – Joel Parkinson
2 – Bruce Irons
3 – Luke Hitchings

Heat #11
1 – Dean Morrison
2 – Jake Paterson
3 – Greg Emslie

Heat #12
1 – Taylor Knox
2 – Daniel Wills
3 – Raoni Monteiro

Heat #13
1 – Paulo Moura
2 – Mark Occhilupo
3 – Lee Winkler

Heat #14
1 – Neco Padaratz
2 – Tim Curran
3 – Chris Ward

Heat #15
1 – Travis Logie
2 – Luke Egan
3 – Bede Durbidge

Heat #16
1 – Fredrick Patacchia
2 – Victor Ribas
3 – Shane Beschen