CLOUDBREAK, Tavarua/Fiji (Tuesday, June 4, 2013) – Opening day of the Volcom Fiji Pro, stop No. 4 of 10 on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), kicked off in firing four-to-six foot (2 – 2.5 metre) barrels at Cloudbreak today, completing the opening 10 heats of the non-elimination Round 1. The first day of competition saw several upsets unfold, as a slew of top seeds went down to the underdogs.
Mitch Coleborn (AUS), 26, returning Volcom Fiji Pro wildcard and winner of the recent ASP Prime event in Brazil, was deadly in the Cloudbreak lineup, earning the first perfect 10 point ride of competition. Coleborn locked into a flawless wave seconds after the start of his heat and drove through two heaving barrel sections to earn the score. The Sunshine-coaster would back up the ride with an excellent 9.33, taking the day’s high heat total of 19.33 out of 20.
“I’m feeling in good rhythm and trying to keep momentum going after my win last week in Brazil,” Coleborn said. “My first wave was a 10 and I don’t know what to say, I’m stoked. Hopefully I can keep it going in Round 3.”
Coleborn, who topped 11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 41, in Round 1 at Cloudbreak last year, recreated the same magic today, besting ASP World No. 1 Adriano de Souza (BRA), 26, and Alejo Muniz (BRA), 23, to make his way to Round 3.
“I’m so thankful to Volcom for the wildcard,” Coleborn said. “This is the most amazing event all year. The waves are pumping. To get the wildcard again, I’m just so stoked. With priority in Round 1 now, it makes for more of a relaxing three-man heat. I was lucky with the first wave and that it was a 10. There wasn’t much jockeying. I was pretty confident after that and there wasn’t much hassling, so I was lucky.”
Heitor Alves (BRA), 31, former ASP WCT competitor and last-minute alternate in the Volcom Fiji Pro, took advantage of both his entry in to the event and the absence of reigning ASP World Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS), 32, in his Round 1 heat. Alves drove through two deep lefthand barrels, notching a near-perfect 9.80 and 8.83 for his efforts to advance to Round 3 over fellow goofy-footer Matt Wilkinson (AUS), 24.
“I’m so happy because I was in Brazil and got the invite just before the event, so it’s a dream for me,” Alves said. “I was just in Brazil and now I’ve just won a heat against Wilko (Matt Wilkinson). It was a hard heat, but I’m happy. I really need a result and hopefully I can do it here. I just got lucky. I was waiting for the best waves and God gave them to me. Luckily I made my heat.”
Fred Patacchia (HAW), 31, marked his return to competition following a serious ankle injury with a convincing Round 1 win at the Volcom Fiji Pro. Patacchia’s veteran experience at Cloudbreak was apparent, as he effortlessly navigated the lineup while threading pristine forehand barrels relegating current ASP World No. 2 Jordy Smith (ZAF), 25, and fellow Hawaiian Sebastian Zietz (HAW), 25, to Round 2.
“This is a great event to come back to,” Patacchia said. “I love coming to Tavarua and I’ve been coming here since I was about 15 years old. My ankle is feeling decent. I’ve got it wrapped and braced and was looking for barrels out there because my turns aren’t really where I want them to be right now. It’s looking like it’s going to be about barrels and that’s what I’m looking for. We didn’t have a whole lot of swell before the event, so I didn’t get much practice, but I’m stoked to get the win.”
Damien Hobgood (USA), 33, two time winner in Fiji (2004, 2006), was deadly in the technical barrels at Cloudbreak today, beating two-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS), 31, and wildcard Alex Grey (USA), 26, in a high-scoring Round 1 affair.
“Mick’s a great competitor and I knew it was going to be tough,” Hobgood said. “I was nervous before heat and just got it rolling right at the start. Towards the end, I creased my board, but I knew I couldn’t leave Mick in the lineup with priority. I saw him get the 6 and knew I couldn’t give him a good wave. I knew I’d have to make him earn it.”
Kai Otton (AUS), 33, current ASP No. 12, contributed to the day’s goofy-footed dominance, besting 2012 Volcom Fiji Pro runner-up Gabriel Medina (BRA), 19, and dangerous Hawaiian Dusty Payne (HAW), 24, compliments of two deep forehand barrels.
“I haven’t had many trips here so I came early with Taj (Burrow) and got the best Cloudbreak I’ve ever had,” Otton said. “I was on such a high and then all week I had the worst free-surfs. I haven’t been able to get a wave and I got pounded really bad on one wave, but then it all came together in that heat. It’s been really fun here. It’s a great place and the hospitality is amazing.”
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 32, reigning ASP World Champion and current ASP WCT No. 8, was absent from today’s Round 1 of competition, the result of an ill-advised decision to embark on a fishing expedition in the early hours of the morning before the call was made.
“I was 100% convinced last night that the contest would be off today so we went fishing early this morning,” Parkinson said. “There is so much good surf coming in the contest window that I thought there was no way we’d be surfing so we grabbed the fishing rods and took off down the coast in the boat. But the swell filled in a little early and the conditions at Cloudbreak were so good they had no choice but to run. There’s no way you walk away from waves that good. I was out of phone range and by the time the contest was called on I was too far away to make it back because I was in the third heat of the morning.”
Parkinson will surf against Dusty Payne (HAW), 24, in Round 2 of competition.
“I was pretty bummed to miss the heat, but I was even more bummed that I missed out on waves like that,” Parkinson said. “That was pretty perfect Cloudbreak. There were some absolute bombs out there and the boys got tubed out of their brains all day. But I guess you’ve got to be philosophical about it. You’re never too old to learn a lesson and I’ll definitely pull back a bit on the fishing during events. I definitely won’t be fishing tomorrow morning! The upside I suppose is that I get to surf an extra heat and the forecast for the rest of the event is looking insane.”
Kelly Slater (USA), 41, 11-time ASP World Champion and current ASP WCT No. 4, was another notable absentee from Round 1 today. Slater opted to remain in Florida for the birth of his nephew, but is en route to arrive before Round 2 of competition.
When competition resumes, up first will be Jeremy Flores (FRA), 25, Nat Young (USA), 21, and Kolohe Andino (USA), 19, in Heat 11 of Round 1.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7am local time to assess conditions for a possible 8am start to Volcom Fiji Pro Round 2.
The Volcom Fiji Pro holds a waiting period from June 4-14 and is webcast LIVE via www.volcomfijipro.com
VOLCOM FIJI PRO ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Fred Patacchia (HAW) 15.20, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.50, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.00
Heat 2: Travis Logie (ZAF) 10.06, Yadin Nicol (AUS) 6.67, Taj Burrow (AUS) 4.90
Heat 3: Heitor Alves (BRA) 18.63, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.33, Joel Parkinson (AUS) ns
Heat 4: Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 19.33, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 6.60, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 5.77
Heat 5: Damien Hobgood (USA) 17.47, Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.23, Alex Grey (AUS) 6.23
Heat 6: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.00, Aca Lalabalavu (FIJ) 8.50, Kelly Slater (USA) ns
Heat 7: Kai Otton (AUS) 17.43, Dusty Payne (HAW) 14.36, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 7.96
Heat 8: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.57, Julian Wilson (AUS) 8.50, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 7.60
Heat 9: Josh Kerr (AUS) 17.66, Adam Melling (AUS) 13.36, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 13.27
Heat 10: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 16.34, Glenn Hall (IRL) 13.67, Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.63