Day 2 in Fiji saw incredible waves again. When we pulled in at Cloudbreak, it was pretty clear that I didn’t want to have anything to do with it.
This is the start of the setup turn that ended up with a beautiful big barrel. Unfortunately, the boat is rocking while I’m taking shots and I completely missed it.
Dreamy, almost easy looking drop.
But don’t be fooled, because it’s not as easy as these guys make it look.
Just like yesterday, we then went to check Pools, which wasn’t nearly as good as yesterday. We didn’t wait long, and this wipeout is the only shot I have of it.
Tide was too low for Restaurants, so we went on the other side of Namotu and checked out both Namotu Lefts and Wilkes. Unfortunately, I don’t have good shorts of any of the two spots, so here’s a couple of little maps that will help with the orientation, if you’re not familiar with the place.
The first map shows where Namotu and Tavarua sit compared to the main island of Nadi (the locals pronounce it Nandi). The red arrow (and blue dot) shows where I’m staying, which is very close to the airport. The boat ride is from one of the bays over to the left and it only takes about 20 minutes. Really smooth in the morning, maybe a bit rough on the way back if the wind picked up, but nothing too serious, as this side of Nadi is completely protected by the outside reefs.
This other one is a close up that shows the six main spots: Cloudbreak, Tavi Rights, Restaurants, Pools, Namotu Lefts, Wilkes, all at a short boat ride distance from each other. When the tide starts changing, the current in the channels can get pretty strong. This morning, just after the low tide the water started rushing in from out on the open ocean towards the inside (towards my hotel, to be extra clear) and no matter which of the breaks you chose, it was a constant paddle just to stay in position and an even harder paddle back to the peak after a ride.
Back to the story, my other four boat mates chose to surf Wilkes, a pretty hard core right with two peaks (one more consistent deep one and one less consistent wide one) a very shallow inside. I know it can get excellent, but it’s by far my least favorite wave of the six. Actually, I should say of the five, since I’ve never surfed Tavi Rights, as it’s very seldom good/big enough.
Namotu Left instead is the softest of the bunch and you can surf it at all tides, without feeling like you’re going to die if you blow a takeoff. It does get sizey though and it’s often bumpy when the trades are blowing even just lightly. This morning it was dreamy glassy instead and a head and a half to occasionally double at the takeoff. Really fun, but I only managed to catch three waves before needing a mandatory rest from the incessant paddling. I held on one of the anchor buoys and I could feel the current flowing like a river. As I was doing that, the four Wilketeers came back and I learned that their session went pretty bad: mostly paddling, getting caught inside and very few waves.
Off to the second session, and after a quick second Cloudbreak check (forget it, even bigger than before), we quickly stopped at Tavi Rights. Some guys out, but don’t get fooled by the inside barrel, as you would never make the section in front of it if you were that deep. The guy way down the line is in the right spot for the takeoff and he could just do one turn after that. We quickly decided to go check Restaurants.
Which was excellent again. This guy is eyeing the price down the line.
This other one could fill in a turn in before getting his share of shade.
No doubt about this one. Cloudbreak is about to become the epicenter of the world of big wave surfing. I’m excited to be here to follow the action closely.
Also because I won’t have any alternative. Today my session at Restaurants didn’t end on the same high as yesterday. I chose my favorite way to get injured and succeeded once again (bailing the board in front of a wave that seemed impossible to duck dive, trying do dive under it and being sucked back onto the reef). At first it didn’t seem too serious. I knew I had scratches and cuts in multiple places (that reef is like a razor!), but I under estimated the impact I got on my right knee. Tonight I can barely walk and the pain seems to be getting worse. I’m pretty sure I didn’t break anything, so hopefully it’s just a matter of a few days. The next three days is going to be too big for me anyway, so I won’t miss much. And, as always, the awareness that it could have been a lot worse helps me navigate through the hard times. I see this as one more opportunity that life presents me to accept the reality, embrace it and finding a way to enjoy it. So far, despite the pain, I’m succeeding.
I did manage to get a pretty long wave to share with you guys, even though I really wish I had it on yesterday. As you can see, I rode it very carefully, because today for some reason I was much more intimidated than yesterday from the very beginning. The lack of the offshore wind and of the clouds made the rocks in front of the take off much more visible and I pulled back quite a few times. Somehow, it seemed a more dangerous session right away.
Yesterday I had at least 5 epic waves and today I got beat up. Restaurants 1 – GP 1.
I doubt there will be a tie breaker this trip.
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