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Fiji Time: 11:52 PM on Friday 1 August

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World's best on Tavarua

Rashneel Kumar
Monday, June 02, 2014

IF Fiji is paradise then Tavarua may well be the heart of the tropical beauty.

Tavarua is not only synonymous with its beauty and friendly people but widely known for Cloudbreak, one of the world's most desired surf spots.

The heart-shaped island located in the Mamanuca Group is abuzz once again as top male surfers from around the world have gathered to compete in the fifth leg of the 2014 Men's World Championship Tour.

Last week, the Tavarua Island Resort hosted the ASP Samsung Galaxy Fiji Women's Pro after eight years.

Eighteen female surfers took part and Australian Sally Fitzgibbons survived the test to win the fifth leg and take her tour earnings to US$162, 250 ($300,797).

The men's competition, which is being held annually since 2012, will have 36 including two wild card surfers taking part.

Isei Tokovou, one of the wild card entrants, will represent Fiji and hopes to improve his performance from the past two tours.

Tokovou, who works for the Tavarua Island Resort, will compete with tour leader and 11-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA) and Jeremy Flores (Brazil) in heat six of round one competition which starts tomorrow.

"It's very special feeling competing against Kelly. He is a champion and no matter you lose or win, surfing with him really helps boost my performance," said Tokovou, who nearly defeated Slater in 2012.

Slater, who has been coming to Tavarua for the past 20 years, is well-known among the people on the island.

He is the two-time defending champion of the Fiji Pro and is the hot favourites to retain the title this year.

"I just feel like I sort of really tune to the energy of the waves here and understand reef and the different waves coming in, where they break in the reef and how they break," Slater said.

With surfing slowly gaining popularity among the Fijians, the government has committed to the development of the sport through pledging its support to Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP).

Minister for Tourism Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum while officially opening the Fiji Pro 2014 on Saturday at Tavarua Island Resort, applauded the effort of the people behind the event.

"We are a small country. We believe we are a unique country with very unique people. Our people is our strength, we are known as the friendliest people in the world and it's where happiness finds you," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum told the surfers.

"I hope you and your surfing competition find the happiness that you are looking for not just on the waves but also with our people."

Fiji Pro Round 1 match-ups:

Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kai Otton (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT)

Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Brett Simpson (USA)

Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS), Freddy Patacchia (HAW), Glenn Hall (IRL)

Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Mitch Coleborn (AUS)

Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Mitch Crews (AUS), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)

Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Isei Tokovou (FJI)

Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Kolohe Andino (USA), Dion Atkinson (AUS)

Heat 8: Josh Kerr (AUS), Sebastian Zeitz (HAW), Alejo Muniz (BRA)

Heat 9: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Aritz Aranburu (ESP)

Heat 10: Nat Young (USA), Owen Wright (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)

Heat 11: Julian Wilson (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)

Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Travis Logie (ZAF)


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