How much of a challenge will the Fiji Pro offer the female side of the tour? A couple of days warming up at windy Cloudbreak provides little insight, but given the conditions they were tearing up what was available. But lo – what nears but a promising event forecast, and once overhead sets start pouring through this reef hitches up its skirts and starts to beat out a heavy tango.
"Nothing throaty and hollow today but the girls were ripping today." Said photog and boat captain Stu Johnson, someone who has punched his card here for years. " Really good surfing, but Cloudbreak was not even showing a tenth of what it can do."
If you can stall effectively on your backside then this wave will love you, but just grabbing rail and hoping the wave goes over you will will not cut it. Begging the question, will Alana Blanchard be knocking on Mark Healy's door asking to borrow his elephant gun? Or it be 2ft and friendly?
The forecast promises an easy entry before some size kicks in complete with a few potential stumbling blocks. Exposed to all wind, Cloudbreak sits two miles off the island of Tavarua and loves calm wind conditions. When the trades blow too hard from the south east and there's enough water over the reef you'll be looking at a few feet of stumbling block coming over the reef and up the face. This also makes getting in and out of the towers an issue and can be enough of a pain to curtail a day's surfing. A low tide will cut out most of this wind swell and they appear to be lucky in that regard.
D Day is Sunday, May 25 and a swell is meant to fill in throughout the day. Monday looks like a good day out on the reef. And then the meat of the swell is forecast to arrive, annoyingly along with increase in the trades out of the south east. Often this means a switch to Restaurants which can handle it so long as the wind isn't too east. Just ask Glenn Hall about his injury hell. Either way we are looking at three days (Tuesday to Thursday) of solid waves.
Let the games begin.
Photos: Stuart Johnson / fijisurfshots.com