Surfers were stoked that the Volcom Fiji Pro was back in the line-up of elite ASP surf events for 2012. Last week, at the massive surf location called Cloubreak in Tavarua, top surfers battled it out in one of the most intense swells of the surfing season. Barrel after barrel, pro surfers defied the odds, many claiming it was the best surf of their entire lives. Who came out the winner? Kelly Slater, the 11-time ASP World Champion, who at 40, also just sinched his 49th elite tour victory overtaking Gabriel Medina, 19, in pumping four-to-six foot surf at the famed oceanic lefthander, Cloudbreak.
Slater wasted no time in the Final against his young opponent, grabbing an 8.33 and a 9.83 in the opening half of the bout to put Medina on the ropes. The Brazilian, however, would not back down, claiming an 8.60 to put himself back in the hunt. Slater limited his scoreline to his two opening rides, and it proved enough for the Floridian to scalp the win as well as his first man-on-man victory over Medina.
“It’s about time I got him,” Slater said. “He had my number in the back half of last year and he’ll probably go on to beat everyone for the next 20 years. He can do it all and I think he proved that to a lot of people this week at Restaurants and out here at Cloudbreak.” Slater sent his first shots across the bow today during the Semifinals when the phenomenal natural-footer posted his second Perfect 10 of the event for a series of deep tube rides and critical turns.
“That’s probably the best I could surf out here,” Slater said. “The barrel and the turn sections just lined up for me and I was able to do what I did. That was a perfect canvas for me.” After an absence at the previous event in Rio de Janeiro, Slater’s win in Fiji bolts him up from 8th to 2nd on the ASP World Championship Tour ratings. “I think everyone who competes on tour is here to win,” Slater said. “If you’re winning events, then you’re winning world titles. At this point in my career, I’m probably more focused on surfing well though. The waves just pumped today. Some guys win, some guys lose, but everyone is happy if the waves are good.”
Medina’s Runner-Up finish at the Volcom Fiji Pro rockets the young goofy-footer from 29th to 13th on the elite ASP World Championship Tour ratings. “I’m pretty happy with my result,” Medina said. “The waves here have been so good all week and it has been a great trip. I haven’t had the best season in terms of results but I’m very happy to make the Final and congrats to Kelly (Slater) – he was surfing amazing all event.”
Mick Fanning (AUS), 30, two-time ASP World Champion, has taken over the ASP WCT ratings’ lead with his Equal 3rd place finish at the Volcom Fiji Pro. A standout performer throughout the event, even having a crack at Cloudbreak during Friday’s mega swell, Fanning was unable to find a rhythm in this morning’s Semifinal bout with Medina.
“Found myself on the wrong side of the rhythm this morning,” Fanning said. “It’s a bummer, but those heats happen. The ratings’ lead is great, but it’s so early in the season that it doesn’t necessarily mean anything at this point. That said, I’m feeling good and feel like I’m surfing well so I’m pumped.” C.J. Hobgood (USA), 32, who along with his brother Damien are both hugely respected for their prowess in Fijian waters, went on a tear in his Quarterfinal bout against Adriano de Souza (BRA), 25, this morning, scoring a 9.97 in the dying moments to advance through to the Quarterfinals.
“It was a blessing that wave came and it did,” Hobgood said. “I knew Adriano (de Souza) was going to post huge scores and he did. I wasn’t on my game at first. I should have sat up top and Adriano had me on the ropes. He’s been surfing so well this year and I don’t think he’s had a worse event than the Semis. That wave came and I just put my head down. That feeling when they read out the score, it just feels good.” Hobgood’s momentum, however, would run out in the Semifinals against eventual winner Slater. His Equal 3rd place finish moves him from 15th to 12th on the ASP World Championship Tour ratings.
The next stop on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour will be the Billabong Pro Teahupoo from August 16 – 27, 2012.
CURRENT ASP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TOUR TOP 5 (After Volcom Fiji Pro): 1. Mick Fanning (AUS) 24,750 pts 2. Kelly Slater (USA) 23,700 pts 3. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 23,700 pts 4. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 22,400 pts 5. Taj Burrow (AUS) 20,950 pts