By Jason Polakow | Photos: Stu Johnson, Stuart Gibson, John Evans, Daniel Hadler

Last year, I missed out on one of the biggest swells ever in Fiji and I did not want to miss another swell heading that way. Looking at the WAM chart, it was easy to see that Fiji was going to get hit hard with a good size swell and plenty of wind on the peak of the swell. I was already in Australia visiting my parents which is only a 4 hr flight to Fiji.

Since my trip to Indonesia 2 seasons ago I have not had great waves, so I was craving that adrenaline rush you get when dropping into a bomb wave.

I put out a few emails to the boys to see if anyone was keen. The next day I got a call from Braw asking if he could join me. A trip chasing good waves with Braw was always on my to-do list, so I was more than happy to take him with me. Braw is one of the top down-the-line wave sailors in the world, if not the best, so I was really looking forward to watching him sail down there.

We both knew it was only going to be 1 epic day of good waves and wind, so we were up at 5 am and in the boat heading up to Cloud Break by 5:45 am. It can be surprisingly windy first light at Cloud Break and this day did not disappoint. We arrived with 15 to 18 knots of wind side offshore and solid 8 foot surf. As always I totally went nuts and we both started scrambling for our gear.

One of my favorite moments that day was watching Braw’s first ride at Cloud Break. We were on the outside, when the first bomb set came through and I told him to go. He gybed, taking the last wave of the set. I watched from the outside as he dropped into the wave and his mast tip disappeared from my view, then reappeared as he cut back off the lip. It was quiet a cool memory watching him ride that wave at sunrise, with the sun just above the ocean line. Spray was pouring off the back of the wave with every turn he did, until he went far down the line and disappeared from my view.

My board was put into wind and I waited for another set wave. A few minutes later he heard him screaming as he made his way back out. He was just tripping out on how glassy the wave was. He told me you could ride any kind of board out here and you would be ripping. He was so happy. I’m sure he will always remember that first set wave he got at Cloud Break. It only takes one epic ride to satisfy any fanatical windsurfer and Braw had the best move of the trip. He hit the lip super late and super deep on a set wave. I’m sure that one wave he got was worth all the time and cost involved to get him down there.

The conditions were epic but due to the swell direction being quite south, the normal vertical walls on the end of the reef –where the wave usually bends inwards creating a long vertical wall– were just not there. A lot of rides, as epic as they looked at the top of the lineup, ended up kind of fat, making it difficult to really set the rail on a lot of rides. Don’t get me wrong, the day was epic, but this wave does offer even more perfect conditions and that’s what I and other top wave sailors strive to find.

As for myself I had so much fun catching sets and sharing the experience with Braw. I could not really hit the lip or do aerials due to a nagging knee injury and I was forced to wear a knee brace to help stabilize my knee during our session, but I still had so much fun just surfing the wave. We both sailed 6hrs straight, Braw having to stop due to muscle cramps in his legs and forearms and myself from wearing holes in my hands from not having enough calluses. The palms of my hands were bleeding badly. Braw said it’s the worst he has ever seen, so you can imagine how bad they were.

We were both dead from a full day on the water and celebrated the day with a nice cold Fiji beer back at our hotel. An amazing trip that is now logged in my memory forever !

G’day!

Jason
KA-1111