The world’s best surfers are preparing for stop No. 5 on the 2017 World Surf League Championship Tour, the Outerknown Fiji Pro.
The women’s event is up first with a competitive window from May 28 – June 2 followed by the men’s event which runs from June 4 – 16.
The wildcards for the event have been set with Bethany Hamilton (HAW) and Yago Dora (BRA) joining the WSL Top 17 and 34 respectively.
Hamilton, of Kauai and known as a shark attack survivor, has been allocated the WSL wildcard for the event for the second year in a row. Since the shark attack at home in 2003, in which she lost her left arm, Hamilton has become an international sporting inspiration and a world-class surfer. This will be Hamilton’s eighth CT appearance.
After a performance at the event last year, in which she made the semifinals, Hamilton poses a considerable threat to the top seeds. Hamilton will face WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) — also from Kauai, in Heat 3 of Round 1.
“Last year was amazing, yet I know I have to focus and go into the event fresh. It is a new year and, as usual, competition will be tough,” Hamilton said. “I feel like I’m surfing better than ever, so I can’t help but be excited.”
Dora was a sensation as a wildcard at the Oi Rio Pro where he wreaked havoc by eliminating three WSL Champions — Mick Fanning (AUS), Gabriel Medina (BRA) and John John Florence (HAW) — en route to the semifinals where he was defeated by eventual winner Adriano De Souza (BRA).
“I’m very thankful that the WSL has given me the wildcard to compete in Fiji,” Dora said. “Qualifying for the CT is my dream and another chance to surf against my heros in Fiji is unbelievable. I went to Fiji already this year to surf Cloudbreak. I didn’t get it perfect, but I got an idea of what the waves can do. I can’t wait for the event.”
Fanning, three-time WSL champion, was eliminated by Dora at Saquarema.
“I only started hearing about him a couple of years ago — little snippets here and there,” Fanning said of Dora. “But to see him live … he’s the real deal. He’s a great surfer, and to take out as many world champions as he did, that’s not something to sneeze at. I think he has a bright future. He’s only young, and he’s going to get really good. It’s exciting. I really like seeing the young guys come up and throwing a cat amongst the pigeons.”
Dora will take on current WSL No. 2 Jordy Smith (ZAF) and Kanoa Igarashi (USA) in Heat 5 of Round 1.
Tevita Gukilau (FJI) will complete the draw for the men’s event after winning the local trials and will face reigning WSL champion and current WSL No. 1 Florence and Jack Freestone (AUS) in Round 1 Heat 6.
Surfline, official forecaster for the Outerknown Women’s Fiji Pro, are calling for:
Minor surf is currently expected for the first couple days of the waiting period (Sun-Mon), with potential for small to fun SW swell on Wednesday. A better SW swell is possible for the end of the waiting period.
The events will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeauge.com, the WSL app and on the WSL’s Facebook page.
Also check the local listings for coverage on CBS Sports Network in the U.S., Fox Sports in Australia, ESPN in Brazil, Sky NZ in New Zealand, SFR Sports in France and Portugal and as part of the EDGEsport Network.