Fiji fires up

23 May 2011 0 Share


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Standout Sessions
May 23, 2011
Words Shaun Wallbank
Photos Stu Gibson

At the start of last week it became increasingly apparent that the Fijian islands were going to be the target of a significant South-South West swell in the coming days.

It was no secret, everyone was hoping for a swell that would top the epic 20 foot Cloudbreak session last September.

The amazing images of David Scard, Laurie Towner and friends were revisited numerous times in anticipation of what was coming.

The forecasts were showing a gradual build throughout the week and then a sharp jump into Thursday and Friday.

The max wave heights were reading 18 feet, but most importantly the period was around 16 seconds.

By Tuesday we were surfing eight foot Cloudbreak with Reef Macintosh and Mark Healey – evidence that this was not going to be your everyday swell.

As if that wasn’t enough, we witnessed the said swell produce the biggest waves ever ridden at Shipstern on Tuesday.

As it turned out, however, Tuesday was the last time we would see light winds during the whole week.

Wednesday dawned with strong northerlies which are basically the only winds in the region that effects all the surrounding breaks.

Thursday repeated the northerly trend but the swell made an obvious increase and, as a late afternoon thunderstorm passed, there was a reprieve from the wind and Restaurants fired for a couple hours before dark.

Dingo, Hippo, Richie Vas and Mark Mathews had joined the crew on Tavarua and got stuck into Restaurants for a warm up.

If a repeat of last years epic swell was going to happen everything hinged on the winds being right on Friday.

Friday – still windy, but this time from the South East (cross to offshore) – surfable and absolutely perfect for kite boarding.

Ben Wilson had been waiting for this day for some time.

“They’re some of the biggest waves we’ve ever kited,” Wilson said, not a small claim from a bloke who is making it his business to pull himself into the biggest waves in the world by nylon strings.

Despite the windy conditions Reef Macintosh, Mark Healey and Tavarua General Manager Dylan Fish still managed to paddle themselves into some bombs.

“I was hoping it might be a bit bigger but it was a great challenge out there,” Healey said, referring to the wind screaming up the face which made every take-off a six foot air drop.


Their bravery came at a price with some heavy wipeouts going down and some serious floggings through the inside.

They turned their efforts to towing, joining Namotu Lifeguard Sean Woolnough.

The average waves were around 15 feet but the sets were pushing 20, undoubtedly a swell for the record books at Cloudbreak.

The rest of the crew surfed perfect, pumping restaurants where Anthony Walsh was dominating.

The swell continued throughout the weekend and at the time of writing is still pumping around Tavarua and Namotu.


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Tags: Fiji , Cloudbreak , Big , Tow , Photos , Macintosh , Healey , Tavarua (create Alert from these tags)

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