Red Letter Day: Fijian Express

Rider and Words: Keahi de Aboitiz
Photos: Colin Drake
Location: Cloudbreak, Fiji
Date: Thursday 28th April, 2022

It was homeward bound to see the family for Keahi de Aboitiz, but – Keahi being Keahi – there was no way he was just going to stare down from the airplane window from 30,000ft while one of his favorite waves was set to go off… 

After an almost three-year hiatus, man it felt good to get back to Fiji again. Over the years it has become one of my favorite destinations, as it offers such a diverse range of conditions that allows you to have fun on pretty much every type of craft possible. With a trip to Australia planned and a really fun looking forecast for Fiji the week before, I couldn't help myself and put all the pieces in motion to try and sneak in a week there before getting back to visit my family.

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One of the things that has always stood out to me about Fiji is the foiling options. There’s just so many good waves in such a small zone around Namotu and the best thing is they generally turn on at high tide when the surf isn’t that good. A lot has changed in the foiling world since the last time I got to foil there, so it was very exciting to be going back over there with the new H-series foils which have become my go-to for everything now. 

Although I wouldn’t exactly consider it a foil wave, I’ve always wanted to try to get a session in at Cloudbreak on the foil, so after a good morning of surfing and with a fairly thin crowd on the water, it seemed like a great opportunity to get out and give it a try. With a pretty solid swell and some wind, I opted for my 4m Mantis and the H-series 800. Winging has become an amazing way to get yourself into bigger, fast-moving waves that you normally can’t paddle into, and the efficiency of the high aspect foils really help with speed while still being able to get up at slower speeds. The other nice thing about winging is it allows you to pick off all the wide ones and ride the shoulder away from people, all while not making any wake. 

Although it’s a little tricky in the more offshore winds riding backside, it sure was a lot of fun spending a couple hours whipping myself into a few bombs and testing the speed limit on the H800 which really handles surprisingly well even in that size. One highlight for me was sharing a couple waves with Mason Ho, who I’ve met a couple times in Hawaii and is just as much of a character as he seems in his videos and an awesome person to be around. We wanted to see if we could line up a shot sharing a wave with him looking out of the barrel and managed to get close on one, but things got a little sketchy towards the end. Definitely not something I’d recommend unless it's people you know and the surfers in the line-up are ok with it! I really wish I had a GoPro pointing the other way on some of those waves as it makes for an amazing way to track surfers getting barreled on the right wave, just like the one you see here. 

All in all, it was a pretty special experience to check that one off the list and I can’t wait to try and get back to Fiji again sometime soon.

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