(Tavarua, Viti Levu – May 8, 2016) The best Fijian surfers converged at the world class surf destination, Cloudbreak, over the weekend for the 2016 Cloudbreak Fiji Pro Wildcard Trials surf competition.
Twelve surfers, from 17 to 37 years old, competed for the right to represent the country at the upcoming prestigious international professional surfing event, the World Surf League’s Fiji Pro, this June 5th to 17th.
Event organisers – the Fiji Surfing Association called a start to the competition on Saturday 7th May in powerful waves reaching three meters. Standout surfers were : Ratu Aca Raculo from Cuvu Village (surfing for the Taba Ni Vono Surf Club), and the trio from the Wailoaloa Surf Club in Nadi : Inia Nakalevu, Che Slatter, & Australian born Tevita Gukilau. All moved through the first three rounds winning their heats comfortably.
After consulting with the surfers, organisers called a halt to the first days competition at the end of Round 3 when onshore winds began to deteriorate conditions.
Resuming at 8.30am on Sunday surfers were blessed with similar sized waves in the three meter range but this time with no wind, making for perfect smooth faces on the powerful waves. With the tide dropping to expose dry reef on the inside, surfers skills were tested as organisers made the call to run the quarters, semi’s and finals. For the first time in a local Fiji surf competition jet ski assists were used in the final rounds.
Seeded surfer – Aca Raculo failed to produce high scoring rides in his quarter-final matchup against Inia Nakalevu and was sent to a sudden death semi-final against the other seeded surfer – Tevita Gukilau. This clash of the two heavyweights brought out the best in them, and it became the highest scoring heat of the competition with Aca taking the early lead from a couple of high scoring rides and holding that position until three quarters of the way through the 25 minute heat when Tevita made a critical decision to paddle back to the top of the lineup rather than taking a lift from the ski and was able to take and hold priority until the first wave of the next set came his way. Tevita was able to pull in and score a 9.5 on this wave to take the lead. Meanwhile Aca was not giving up and pulled into a barrel on the next wave of the set, making it out cleanly and driving down the line and into a second barrel deeper than the first. The crowd waited for him to emerge (and most certainly take the lead) however the wave pinched and Aca was unable to emerge and Tevita’s fans want crazy in the channel as he held his lead. With a minute to go Aca was unable to find the score he needed and Tevita took the semi.
In the other semi final – Inia was matched against Lesi Navuwai from the Vunaniu Surf Club, and came out on top in a one sided affair.
Many waves were ridden in the 35 minute final, however Inia Nakalevu was unable to overtake Tevita’s early lead and at the final horn the scores were 19.10 to Tevita and 17.83 to Inia.
Final results :
1st Tevita Gukilau – Wailoaloa Boardriders
2nd Inia Nakalevu – Wailoaloa Boardriders
3rd equal Aca Raculo – Taba Ni Vono Surf Club
3rd equal Lesi Navuwai – Coral Coast Boardriders
Tevita Gukilau goes on to compete in the world professional tours Fiji PRO starting June 5th.
The Fiji Surfing Association (FSA) is Fiji’s national governing body for surfing. More info at www.surfingfiji.com.fj or on Facebook at : Fiji Surfing Association. For more information please contact John Philp from the Fiji Surfing Association at +679 999-7719 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.