ISEI Tokovous opening round loss at the Volcom Fiji Pro here yesterday was bitter-sweet.
Fijis lone entrant in the fourth leg of the ASP 2012 World Championship just could not find the right wave to get his rhythm going as the high swells at low tide, sometimes ranging from 6-8 feet, splashed, smashed and washed away some of his enthusiasm.
He is down but not out though and it wasnt too long before he was all smiles as news spread of a mouth-watering prospect for him, a showdown with surf king, Kelly Slater.
I just failed to find the right wave, Tokovou said.
Wave selection is very important. At one time I almost rode one but indecision whether to go for that one or the one following proved costly, said the 35-year old.
An exit from the competition looks imminent with the David versus Goliath face-off against Slater although Tokovou could take a lot of this match-up, experience-wise.
I am up for it and will try and improve on todays (yesterdays) outing, he said.
Australias Joel Parkinson won Tokovous heat with 15.93 points followed by Brazils Raoni Monteiro (8.33p).
Australias Mitchel Coleborn, a wildcard entrant, stunned everyone surfing to victory on a giant wave with a perfect ride on his last attempt.
Coleborn tallied 17.37 points to Slaters 13.50. American Slater was feeling sick over the last two days but did not see that as his downfall.
Physically I was feeling fine when I went in the water, he said.
Its just the conditions and there was always going to be a little bit of luck factor. The waves were too big ... washing us through and cleaning us up so yeah I guess I did not have a bad heat but I did not have a great heat either.
So what does the favourite think of our local hopeful?
The Fijians are very good in the water, lot of them are fishermen and divers. It will fun, Slater offered with a smile.
Tokovou thinks otherwise. It will always be tough without regular competition. These guys are professionals and travel the world, not only to compete but to train on the best waves because they are sponsored, he said.
Its different for us. We get things like T-shirt and caps during local competitions. We are still living in the amateur world. Things need to change if we are to move forward and be competitive against the worlds best.
South African Jordy Smith, Australian Mick Fanning, Hawaiis John John Florence and Australias Owen Wright stood out in their heats and are front runners for top spot. The competition has a $US425