Opening Day At 2014 Fiji Pro

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All Photos: Jimmicane

Sunshine on a cloudy break
Memories tend to be short in surfing. When we think about Cloudbreak, we immediately recall the somewhat clumsy surfing in somewhat clumsy waves at last week’s Women’s Fiji Pro -- not the madly perfect waves and surfing we’ve seen here in years past. And with such short memory, doubt sometimes creeps in. Is Cloudbreak that good? Or is it just another one of the too-many waves that can get perfect, but can also be homely on a regular basis. A string of lay days and a dreary swell forecast only helped progress the feelings of uncertainty. But today, any and all doubts were torn apart today like ribbons of flesh on that pest of a dry reef end section. Even though the waves were sub-par by Cloudbreak’s golden standard, Round 1 ran from start to finish and found a great-looking stride along the way. It was world-class again, kind of.

This little light of mine
Some folks let it shine. They let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. And while not every heat shined bright like the sun, there would be no shortage of glimmering moments. Specifically thanks to…

Michel Bourez: Michel has won two out of the four events on the 2014 tour and is, without debate, a title contender. He dusted his shoulders clean of Brett Simpson and Filipe Toledo today in a tone-setting heat. The Spartan’s foes should shake in fear of his progressive-power hybrid, but they should quiver in fear of his attitude. When asked about his world title hopes post-heat, Michel gently replied, “I’m just trying to do my best in every single event. That’s all I’m focused on.” That kind of a sentiment attracts the champagne.
Freddy P: A heat with Freddy P. should never be taken lightly, especially not at Cloudbreak. Today, Fred heavy-footed his way past Glenn Hall and Mick Fanning to the bluesy tune of 16.03 hairless points.
Mitch Coleborn: Remember when Mitch was a freesurfer? Wasn’t it cute? Because a few years back, he got a wildcard into this very contest and fell in love with competitive surfing after handing Robert Kelly Slater a little pink slip. Today, Mitch showed that love never dies by beating Ace Buchan and Taj Burrow for his first win of his year as the WCT’s injury alternate/the guy who is kind of on, kind of off tour.
Kelly Slater: Kelly Slater has one of those almost creepy connections with Cloudbreak. Historically, this is the wave that forced the talented yet unproven pup from Cocoa Beach, Florida to grow a pair and surf big waves with confidence. That was a few decades ago. These days, at 42-years-old, Kelly surfs Fiji with more confidence than anybody and there’s probably a joke about the pair he’s grown somewhere in here.
Gabriel Medina: There is still a world title within the grab of Gabs and he surfed like he knew it today. The talent is there. The drive is there. And his stepdad Charles is for sure there, jumping around and screaming like a psychopath.
Jordy Smith: Highest heat total of the day, sure. Why wouldn’t Jordy remain the most unpredictable contest surfer of this era? Keep ’em guessing, Jords. Keep ’em on their toes.
Julian Wilson: Did you watch the edit he just put out? If yes, then you get it. If not, watch it and see proof that this kid has a backhand to be reckoned with. Bede and Jadson reckoned with it today. Ask them how it went.
John John Florence: JJF won an average-scoring heat today against CJ Hobgood and Travis Logie but whatever, it’s John John so let’s talk about him.

Just a few things we thought we should point out.

The light did not shine on Jeremy Flores today. Jeremy paddled in five minutes before his heat ended and got all Floyd Mayweather on his board in the process. Did nobody tell him he was surfing against Kelly Slater? Suffice to say, this is the bottom for J-Flo and the only way to go is up -- expect him to do just that.
CJ Hobgood is sponsored now. By a company called Salty Crew. You may have never heard of them, but still. Isn’t that cool?
Brett Simpson can’t catch a fucking break. Simpo hasn’t yet made a heat in 2014. Today, he put on a good performance with 14.76 points for some sharp surfing, but had the misfortune of being in Michel’s heat. Brett now goes up against Nat Young in the battle-of-the-besties in Round 2.

They say that tomorrow…
You’ll likely be face-to-screen with Round 2.