NIIJIMA ISLAND, JAPAN — The Niijima Quiksilver Pro entered its 12-day waiting period this morning but was unfortunately greeted by a flat ocean.
Competition was postponed for the day, though a traditional Japanese ceremony officially kicked off the $250,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT).
Contest co-director Rod Brooks explained the swell outlook over coming days looks promising, despite the lack of waves this morning at Habushiura Beach.
An increase is forecast for later today and will hopefully allow competitors a free-surf session prior to round one, which is expected to begin tomorrow morning.
The Major or Niijima Island Mr. Degawa welcomed all traveling surfers and event organizers, with former professional surfer and Niijima Quiksilver Pro announcer Matt Pitts (Aus) acting as translator.
“I’d like to welcome you all to Niijima,” said Mr. Degawa, “I’m really happy to present our beach to all of the competitors and all those who have traveled here.” I’m really looking forward to seeing all the best surfers in the world surfing the great waves I know can break at Habushiura beach. Give it your best.”
Two-time world champion (1983 & ’84) and Quiksilver ambassador Tom Carroll (Newport, Aus) then explained the pivotal role Japan played during his competitive career, and the development of professional surfing at large.
“It’s a great pleasure to return to Niijima Island and visit a country which really had a lot to do with the development of professional surfing worldwide,” said Carroll. “It was imperative to my world titles back in the ’80’s, and to incredible groundbreaking performances by world champions throughout the ’80’s and early ’90’s. I’d like to wish the best of luck to all the surfers here, the Japanese surfers especially. You’re at your home ground and will hopefully be able to put it to the international surfers.
Whatever type of conditions you receive here at Niijima, I know you’re all going to do your best. Good luck with the event and it’s an absolute honor to be back here in Japan.”
The local Fujing Daiko (translation means ‘Gods of the Wind Drums’) traditional drum ensemble then performed a spectacular show before the gathered crowd of competitors, officials and media persons.
Adding to list of surfers forced to withdraw from the Niijima Quiksilver Pro due to injury was Toby Martin (Dee Why, NSW, Aus) yesterday. After making the two-day journey to the Island, a herniated disc and pinched nerve in his back caused the 29-year-old severe pain and he could not even feel his right hand. He has been replaced by another Japanese wildcard in Teppei Tajima.