The Volcom Fiji Pro relocated to the secondary venue of Restaurants today and draining four-to-six foot (1.5 – 2 metre) waves awaited the world’s best as Rounds 3 and 4 were completed, setting up a possible finish for tomorrow.
Event No. 4 of 10 on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour, the Volcom Fiji Pro has narrowed the original 36-man field down to the final 12 as fans were treated to some of the best surfing at Restaurants ever witnessed with four Perfect 10s being recorded before day’s end.
John John Florence (HAW), 19, put in the performance of the event this morning, threading impossibly long barrels on his backhand to attain a 19.30 out of a possible 20. The ASP Dream Tour rookie is relishing in his inaugural trip to Fiji, taking to South Pacific reef breaks with unmatched comfort.
“I’m still reeling from those waves,” Florence said. “This has been the best trip of my life and the waves we’ve had have been some of the best of my life too. Yesterday we had Cloudbreak about as big and perfect as it gets and today we’re getting four barrels a wave at Restaurants. It’s unbelievable.”
Florence went on to secure the event’s second Perfect 10 in his afternoon Round 4 bout for yet another superb backhand barrel, reiterating the young Hawaiian’s supernatural affinity with the ocean. The current ASP World No. 5 has already advanced through to the Quarterfinals with several pundits tipping him as a legitimate ASP World Title contender this season.
“I didn’t have the best heat but I had that one really good wave,” Florence said. “The world title is always on your mind if you’re on this tour. I’ve thought about it, but usually just focus on the heat in front of me.”
Kelly Slater (USA), 40, reigning 11-time ASP World Champion, wasted little time in his Round 3 affair against goofy-footer Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), 30, posting a 9.27 and 8.27, both out of 10, in the opening minutes of his heat to post a convincing win.
“That was a lot of fun,” Slater said. “It’s a little anticlimactic after what went down yesterday, but it’s really fun Restaurants and there are some nice barrels. It’s a little tricky, you’ve got to watch the waves because there are some big sets coming in and the medium ones are better. Freddy (Patacchia) beat me out here once and I got him once but it doesn’t matter who it is, whoever gets the good waves is probably going to win the heat. You’ve got to try and pick a line and stick to it. You can get deep in the barrel, a lot deeper than you think.”
Slater backed up his sensational morning bout with an impressive afternoon run, posting the day’s fourth Perfect 10 on his opening Round 4 ride and then backing it up with an 8.33 to overtake a rampaging Owen Wright (AUS), 22, and Heitor Alves (BRA), 30, to advance directly to Round 4.
“In truth, today is a bit anti-climatic when compared to what went down yesterday afternoon,” Slater said. “However, it is really good out there and there is some really good surfing going down.”
Although Wright was relegated to the elimination Round 5, the young goofy-footer put in sensational performances today, posting a 19.27 and a 17.90 (both out of 20) in Rounds 3 and 4 in his first ever surfs out at Restaurants.
“Those were the first times I’ve ever surfed Restaurants and I can’t believe it,” Wright said. “It’s wave after wave out there. Every wave you take off on, you make it all the way down to the end of the point and get three barrels in between. It’s just perfect. You can’t do anything wrong out there if you’re in the barrels and just site tight. It’s the best wave I’ve ever surfed.”
Wright will take on C.J. Hobgood (USA), 31, in Heat 3 of Round 5 when competition resumes.
Gabriel Medina (BRA), 18, led the Brazilian charge today, topping fellow countryman Alejo Muniz (BRA), 22, in a dominant Round 3 performance with a variety of technical barrels and committed turns over the infamous Restaurants reef.
“I had so much fun out there,” Medina said. “It was a fun heat against Alejo (Muniz). He’s a good friend of mine and I got a couple of fun ones and got a couple of barrels. I just went for it. The waves are so perfect and I just tried to surf and have fun out there.”
Medina then scored a sensational last-minute win in his non-elimination Round 4 bout against Joel Parkinson (AUS), 31, and Mick Fanning (AUS), 30. Needing a solid score in the dying moments, Medina took off on a smaller wave and executed a series of forehand turns and aerials over dry reef to secure the 7.83 to advance directly to the Quarterfinals.
Parkinson and C.J. Hobgood (USA), 31, posted the balance of the day’s four Perfect 10s for incredible barrels out at Restaurants.
When competition resumes, up first will be Damien Hobgood (USA), 32, up against Mick Fanning (AUS), 30, in the opening heat of Round 5.