Greg Long may have won the Wave of the Summer award, but Jeff Hubbard wins the Air of the Summer award.
Sure there are a lot of logistics to consider. Producing a webcast from a remote region of the south Pacific has got to be a challenge. I’m not in Fiji, so I don’t know how much gear was broken down from the scaffolding, boated over to Restaurants, only to be returned to Cloudbreak. And yes, there was some bump on the face, making for less-than-perfect conditions. But the reality is that the ASP’s willingness to run in solid 15-foot surf was challenged today and they backed down. After 80 minutes of competition (props to the four contestants in the final two heats of round 2) the contest was put on hold.
In defense of the ASP, the forecast is calling for solid SSW energy over the next few days. Contestable conditions (perhaps even bigger than today) are expected throughout the weekend, and with seven days left in the holding period, there’s good reason to lay off the trigger.
Whether round three paddles out at Cloudbreak or Restaurants has yet to be determined, but it’s unlocked a Pandora’s box of questions for the contest officials, as well as the ASP in general. The first and foremost being, why didn’t the Volcom Fiji Pro run more than two heats today?
Fishing and drinking beer is great. But if you’re paid to surf, shouldn’t you have the skills and confidence to step up? It’s one thing to work all winter saving money for your summer surf trip to Fiji, or get a job on Tavarua as a boatman, but if you’re one of the top 36 surfers in the world lucky enough to get into the event, shouldn’t you be prepared for anything?
The world saw what Cloudbreak was capable of in 2011. Patagonia delivered it to mailboxes across the globe. It’s ridiculous to think that the ASP should shy away from today’s conditions. I’m sorry, but professional surfers in 2012 should be able to handle any and all conditions. If tour members have to compete in shoulder-high onshore mush, they should be equally prepared for triple-overhead reef breaks. Not to say that the ASP elite weren’t ready and able, but the free surfers were the hungriest of the bunch.
That being said, Cloudbreak is expected to continue its XXL push through tomorrow, so Saturday will provide another opportunity for the ASP to make a decision. Sure the wind might not be right, the swell unmanageable, but the world will be watching. If the ASP flinches, no matter the reason, expect criticism from an audience that expects the most celebrated surfers to tackle the most extreme conditions mother nature can create. Isn’t that the point?
An XXL-sized swell is about to collide with the ASP again this year, this time at the 2012 Volcom Fiji Pro. With conditions forecast to top out around 12 feet at 17 seconds, this upcoming swell is expected to be a touch smaller than 2011’s tube-fest that produced both Monster Tube and Ride of the Year XXL award nominations. This time around though, Kelly doesn’t have to skip the event to score massive Cloudbreak.
Here’s a look at how the primary swell data stacks up, with the 2011 swell first, followed by the forecast for Friday and Saturday. Long-period (20-second) forerunner energy is expected early Friday morning, with swell heights building throughout the day and reaching 12-feet by dark. Solid SSW energy continues to pour in on Saturday, with consistent swell conditions of 12 feet at 16 seconds (208°) expected.
While this swell isn’t expected to reach last year’s peak of 14 feet at 17 seconds, it will provide the largest surf contested so far by the ASP elite during the 2012 season. If the footage from last year’s swell is any indication, it’s definitely going to be a webcast worth tuning into.