Two months ago Brazilian ASP Tour rookies Gabriel Medina and Miguel Pupo rocked up on Namotu Island in Fiji, just down the reef from Cloudbreak, for an early practice session for the forthcoming Volcom Fiji Pro. Today in the round two elimination heats the two weeks of surfing Cloudbreak paid off in a big way.
Medina, surfing against Yadin Nichol, scored the contest's first perfect 10-point ride for an incredibly deep barrel that ran and ran down the inside of the Cloudbreak reef. Ten-time Molokai paddle champion and big-wave surfer Jamie Mitchell was manning one of the water patrol jet skis at the time and watched the whole ride from down the end of the reef. He's seen his share of amazing waves and was almost speechless, except for his comment, "Whoa, how deep was that!"
Medina's father Charlie, sitting in the channel caddying, on the other hand was not so speechless, whistling, clapping and punching the air as the perfect score was announced.
Asked later about the wave Medina admitted there was a time when he didn't think he could make it out. "I really didn't think I was going to come through one section, but I started to pump my board for speed," he explained while sitting on the boat watching his good friend Miguel Pupo surf his heat against Matty Wilkinson. "I made the section and then made it through the next one and came out. I'm not sure what I'm more stoked about though, making the 10-point score or winning the heat."
Pupo also made it through his heat against Wilkinson, which was an all goofy-footer affair. Both tried to get as deep as they could in the low tide, draining barrels. Pupo piped Wilko in the final minutes after the lead had changed numerous times. It appears Pupo's time on Namotu paid off too.
There were two other standout performances today, and both involved ankle injuries. One by Julian Wilson, who finally looks like he has recovered from an injury suffered during the Pipeline Masters last year. The other by Josh Kerr, who surfed his heat with his left ankle heavily taped up and with the aid of a pain killing injection. Suffering a grade-two ankle tear yesterday when his board flipped upside down in the tube and crashed into his ankle, he appeared unfazed.
"I might fall asleep mid heat," joked Kerr before paddling out. His opponent, Taylor Knox, wished he had because neither the tape job nor the painkillers hindered his performance. Maybe going straight in the barrel and getting as deep as you can doesn't put too much strain on an ankle injury?
Julian Wilson has surfed in every World Championship event this year but never looked 100 percent. He definitely looked as though he was back in top form today though. His opponent Pat Gudauskas was out of rhythm from the onset of the heat after getting caught inside on an early closeout, bounced across the reef and losing his board into the lagoon. But Wilson was on fire, nailing barrel after barrel, racking up scores of 9.10 and 9.47 points in the process.
When the contest kicked off in the morning at 8:30 in clean four to six-foot surf there was a call made that round three could run through the afternoon, but when the north "devil" wind kicked in around heat nine, it should have been all over for the day.
The heat between Kolohe Andino and Tiago Pires had to be restarted after no waves in the first 10 minutes and it stretched to 45 minutes of bumpy waves, eventually won by Pires. Heat 10 saw Brett Simpson defeat Travis Logie in similar conditions before the contest was called off with two heats remaining in round two.
Meanwhile, Kelly Slater, who is still not 100 percent fit after suffering from a stomach virus, moved into the third round after defeating local wild card Isei Tokovu. Adrian Buchan eliminated good friend Kieren Perrow, and Taj Burrow also advanced after defeating Brazilian William Cardoso who had come into the draw to replace the injured Dusty Payne.
The surf forecast is suggesting we could be in for a few small lay days before another big spike of swell late in the week. This might give the likes of Slater and Kerr a few days to recover, and all the guys left in the event will be chomping to be back in the water surfing Cloudbreak or Restaurants by the end of the week.
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