THE Volcom Fiji Pro is days away from commencing and the world's best surfers will be greeted by solid swell for the opening of the event window.
"We've got a ton of swell lining up for the first week of the Volcom Fiji Pro," said Kevin Wallis. "The event will get off to a quick start on Sunday the 3rd with a solid southwest swell at Cloudbreak along with favorable easterly wind. Wind will remain favorable for the first half of the following week as the swell tapers down. Long range charts point to a larger southwest swell for the 8th - 10th, if forecast models prove to be correct."
Event No. 4 of 10 on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour, the Volcom Fiji Pro will recommence this season's race for the elite ASP World Title and the world's best surfers are eager to take on the South Pacific perfection of Cloudbreak and Restaurants.
Adriano de Souza (BRA), 25, current ASP World No. 4, has led the South American charge this year on tour, finishing Runner-Up at the opening stop on the Gold Coast before posting strong results at Bells Beach and in Rio de Janeiro.
"I think Gold Coast event gave me a lot of confidence that's why I'm still in the Top 5," De Souza said. "This season I've had more fun than other season. I always try to grab positives things that I've been doing the last seven years on tour and apply them to what I'm doing now. I think that's why the results have been strong for me so far and I'm looking forwarding to the rest of the year."
A seven-year veteran of the elite ASP World Championship Tour, De Souza is one of the few surfers who competed in the elite tour's last installment of the Fiji event, finishing Equal 3rd in 2008.
"My experience in Fiji is one the best I've ever has since being on tour," De Souza said. "Unfortunately, I don't go there often, but I always try to sit in the best spot and catch the best waves. I always watch Kelly (Slater) and the Hobgood brothers (C.J. and Damien). I'm always watching what those guys are doing out there and then try to apply it to my surfing."
De Souza has been at the vanguard of elite level surfing for the past several years and has further opened the door for a slew of fellow Brazilians to join him on the world stage.
"The tour changes every year and last year Brazil showed up with Gabriel (Medina), Miguel (Pupo) and Alejo (Muniz)," De Souza said. "This year, it looks like John John (Florence) and Kolohe (Andino) will be the new faces of 2012. I'm still young and not too far from these kids in age so I'm trying my best to follow this new energy around this season."
De Souza will face Bede Durbidge (AUS), 29, and Willian Cardoso (BRA), 26, in Round 1 of the Volcom Fiji Pro.
Owen Wright (AUS), 22, current ASP World No. 10, is into his third season amongst the world's best and emerged as a major contender for the ASP World Title in 2011.
"I'm really happy with how things have come together so far in 2012," Wright said. "I have improved on previous results for this time of the year and now I'm looking forward to the rest of the season. I am going to Fiji to give it my best shot. Any win from now until December will help in my dreams for an ASP World Title."
Wright is one of the surfers who have yet to compete at the famed South Pacific lefthanders, and although his experience there is limited, all eyes will be on the progressive goofy-footer come this weekend.
"My past experience with Fiji is a bit limited," Wright said. "I've only been there once before on a shoot with Rip Curl, I didn't really get to surf as much as I would have liked due to an ankle injury. When I heard the tour was heading back to Fiji after a few years off, I was frothing. I love surfing hollow lefts in warm water."
The young Australian will unquestioningly be one of the event favorites, but Wright admits that the depth of talent amongst this year's ASP Top 34 will make anyone a contender.
"Everyone that puts on a vest in Fiji will be a threat," Wright said. "All the boys are there to win and even more so in perfect waves. Biggest threats? I don't think you can go past Kelly (Slater), he is always on his game and has done well there in the past, as have the Hobgoods. John John (Florence) is a threat for sure - he is incredible in the tube and has adapted quickly to life on the tour, plus he will be looking to back up his last win in Rio."
Wright will take on Tiago Pires (PRT), 32, and Yadin Nicol (AUS), 26, in the opening round of the Volcom Fiji Pro.
Mitch Coleborn (AUS), 25, and Isei Tokovu (FIJ) have been granted wildcards into the Volcom Fiji Pro.
Jadson Andre (BRA), 22, and Dusty Payne (HAW), 23, have withdrawn from the event due to injury. They will be replaced by Willian Cardoso (BRA), 26, and Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), 30, respectively.
When competition commences, up first will be Jordy Smith (ZAF), 24, Brett Simpson (USA), 27, and Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), 30, in the opening heat of Round 1.
The Volcom Fiji Pro will take place from June 3 - 15, 2012 and will be webcast LIVE via www.volcom.com/fijipro
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
VOLCOM FIJI PRO ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Brett Simpson (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 2: Josh Kerr (AUS), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS), Damien Hobgood (USA), Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Willian Cardoso (BRA)
Heat 5: Kelly Slater (USA), Kai Otton (AUS), Mitch Coleborn (AUS)
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Isei Tokovu (FIJ)
Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT), Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 9: John John Florence (HAW), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 10: Julian Wilson (AUS), Heitor Alves (BRA), Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 11: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Gabriel Medina (BRA), Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (PYF), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Adam Melling (AUS)