Taki Time | Fiji

For me Fiji is one of those places where given a small opportunity, a window of time-off or a job I will jump at the chance to go.  There is something so magical about Fiji and every time I go back it just gets better.  Series after series of tiny sand islands separated by the Pacific Ocean and pristine reef systems that deliver waves most people only see on the cover of surfing magazines.  There is a reason why surfing royalty such as Kelly Slater, Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning refer to this place as having the best waves in the world.  One wave in particular that stands out above the rest I can honestly say still scares the hell out of me…the infamous Cloudbreak.

On this trip McTavish team rider Christian Barker (Wispy) and I stayed with good friends and local boys Teh and Foy Chung on the Western side of the mainland in place called Momi.  The boys family own seventy acres of lush Fijian soil covered in palm trees, organic vegies, goats and their modest farm house that has character for days.  The house faces west and from the gun tower at the most western end of the property you can see the WSL judging tower that marks Cloudbreak.  Fricken heaven to be honest.

Fortunately this trip we arrived at the beginning of the season just a few weeks before the WSL contest and by the look of the forecast it seemed we could be in luck.  Upon arrival the Chung brothers gave Wispy and I “that look”…  you know, the look you give when you’ve checked the surf, its pumping and you bump into your mate on the sand path on the way back to the carpark to grab the longest board you have in your quiver.  Yeh ‘that look”.  So you can imagine the word “pumping’ was being thrown around a bit. 

Following morning we didn’t waste any time.  Tide was out so it was the usual wade across the mangroves and reef to get to the boat which Teh likes to refer to as “a long talk” not “a long walk.  On the way out we could see the white wash on the horizon and the excitement and anticipation in the boat was on the rise…and for good reason.  It was “pumping”.  I’ve shot a lot with Wispy in many types of conditions and this was the first time Id seen the boy slightly nervous, not to mention the longest board he had with him was a five-ten.  Regardless he was out of the boat and paddling before I could before I could say “Im gonna watch for a bit”. 

I’d shot a Cloudbreak before but never like this, not this big.  To be honest my guts were in my throat and I felt like I needed to vomit.  I asked Teh to drive the boat a while and I’d pick some shots of on a long lens, meanwhile gauging just how big it was and to give me some time to grow a pair.  Eventually I managed to pull myself together with a lot of counselling from Teh and found myself swimming with camera in hand closer to the impact zone.  The closer I got the bigger it got and the more I was feeling sick…not a great way to feel in that scenario but I’d seriously never seen anything like it nor had I swam anything like it.

We were at Cloudbreak and the surrounding breaks for about ten days and manage to score the best waves of our lives that trip.  The week after we left they had the biggest swell they’d had in years.  To be honest this was enough for me on this occasion and I was quite happy to miss out on that one.  Maybe next time Ill grow a bigger pair but I think this was a good reality check as to where Im at with this whole waterman thing….


Momi Land looking East
Momi Land Grass
Momi Land looking East
Momi Land Mansion
The Momi gun tower.
Momi Palms.
From left: Teh, Wispy, Foy and Cesilia.
Morning Momi missions begin.
Waiting for Foy to change his shorts after a little hangover accident.
McTavish quiver.
One of four beautiful resident Momi ridge backs.
Momi gang mangrove walk.
Momi gang.
Foy post Shart.
Mangrove walks. "A long talk, not a long talk".
The wade out over the reef.
Captain Teh Chung sorting transport.
Momi gang and the morning anticipation.
Foy Boy.
Respect to her.
Foy Boy.
The lovely Cesilia. One of two Fijian women surfers.
Into the Pacific.
Going again..
Wisp froth levels high.
Emma pin could do with another inch or four.
Wisp deep in the cloud.
Emma pin at work.
Cloudbreak just didnt stop.
Yet another.
The tube before the tube.
Moments before Wisp's tube of his life.
Wisp after the wave of his life. Forth levels high.
Hannah, Teh and Wisp.
The shallows.
So pretty.
Dodging Jellies.
Jelly hats.
Lunch breaks.
Mr Schwartz.
Ryan Birch a spectator. Balaram Stack yet another.
Wispy sun breaks.
So many empty ones.
Ryan Birch a spectator. Balaram Stack yet another.
Jared stylin.
Balaram Stack snapped a couple.
Roll ins..
This boat almost went over.
Balaram Stack.
Stu from Fiji Surf Co.
Stu from Fiji Surf Co.
Foy Chung scraping the coconut.
Fresh coconut for fresh Momi curry.
Afternoon Taki on the gun tower.
Afternoon Taki on the gun tower.
Afternoon Taki on the gun tower.
Afternoon Taki on the gun tower.
Afternoon Taki on the gun tower.
Afternoon Taki on the gun tower.
Afternoon Taki on the gun tower.
Afternoon Taki on the gun tower.
Momi land palms.
What you lookin at?
Momi sunset adventures.
On the way to stare into the middle distance.
WSL tower in all its glory.
Arvo sesh.
Checkin the Emma Pin from below.
Wisp early morning cloudbreak tubes.
Early morning Cloudbreak.
Early morning Cloudbreak.
Cloudbreak turning it on.
Bottom turns at Tavvy lefts.
Wisp setting it up.
Close up Emma Pin.
Wisp below the surface.
More shelter for Wisp.
Blue, Blue, Blue.
McTavish Emma Pin from beneath.
Teh Boy between sets at Tavvy lefts.
Chinese bubbles.
Two of earth best. Foy and Teh Chung.
So many of these little paradises.
Palm trees for days.
Three Palms.
Pacific underworld.
Follow us.
Welcome visitor.
Ming Nomchong at Cloud 9.
Ming Nomchong at Cloud 9.

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