The Outerknown Fiji Women's Pro waiting period starts this Sunday local time, followed by a two-month break before the Vans US Open of Surfing. This is the fourth straight year of holding an event for the women at Cloudbreak, and it has yet to let us down.
Stephanie Gilmore has tasted Fijian success, making the Final back in 2014, but it's Sally Fitzgibbons with the best track record in Tier A. She owns an 80 precent Heat Win Percentage and two of the three first-place trophies. Sitting only 1,500 points behind in the ratings, Sally's surely looking to snatch that yellow jersey heading into the women's version of summer break.
You wouldn't guess this after watching her ridiculous stand-up barrel here freesurfing last year, but Jeep Rankings co-leader Tyler Wright has fared poorly by her standards at this event in the past, placing 9th twice, and 13th last year. Tyler's Average Heat Score in Fiji is 11.53, which is significantly less than her Championship Tour-leading 15.74 AHS in 2017. Logic would say she's due for a breakout performance, but the road won't be easy as she faces Tatiana Weston-Webb and Bethany Hamilton in Round One.
Tier B is blessed with some great options, including 2016 Fiji Pro champion, Johanne Defay. There are worse places to prepare for Cloudbreak than Reunion Island's Saint Leu, where Defay grew up surfing. Johanne has proved that by placing 5th, 3rd, and 1st in Fiji, and owns the third-highest HWP at 59 percent.
Like Tyler, Fiji hasn't been Carissa Moore's pet event but she showed flashes of brilliance, placing 2nd in 2016 after bringing along Cloudbreak master CJ Hobgood, who's now her full-time coach. She has the highest AHS (14.72) of anyone here, but hasn't looked totally inspired this season.
Another one to watch out for is Courtney Conlogue. She rocked up to Tavarua early and packed a few gaping barrels earlier in the week, but will need to improve on her two Quarterfinal results so far in this event if she wants to stay in the World Title conversation.
Nikki Van Dijk could be a breakout threat with two consecutive 5ths in Fiji. Many remember her face-plant on the shish kabab-section of the reef in 2014. But one thing's for sure, Nikki is not afraid to send it.
This might be the best Tier C event of the entire year. Bethany Hamilton got the call-up again to be the wildcard, after her spectacular run to the Semifinals last year. In that event, she took down eventual World Champion Tyler Wright. Hamilton's not the only great goofyfoot option, though.
Bianca Buitendag has been consistently deadly at Cloudbreak owning seven Excellent Heats, the most of any female in this event. She's placed 3rd, 2nd and 5th in the past. But the road will be much tougher as an injury wildcard, immediately throwing down with the top seeds.
Laura Enever finally looked like her normal self in Brazil, bringing her AHS for the year up by nearly two full points. Expect it to increase yet again because Fiji is historically Laura's marquee event. She's placed 5th every year it's run -- and who can forget that hammer of a 10-point ride in Round Three last year?
Keep in mind Fiji is just over the international date line and although the forecast doesn't look incredible right now, the shorter-than-normal waiting period adds to the likelihood of starting heats if conditions are at least decent.
Make sure to lock in your teams, and good luck! Play Fantasy here.