The Globe Pro surf competition held annually on the truly spectacular Fijian island of Tavarua is one of the highlights of the international pro surf calendar. The competition has been a regular fixture since 2005 with the inaugural competition being won by the legendary Jack Clammer in the mens’ category and Lucy Meldrew taking the overall crown in the womens’ heats.
One of the top spots in the world for big wave surfing, Tavarua is a heart-shaped pearl of an island adjacent to Viti Levu and so easily accessible from international flights. The island resort of Cloudbreak turns into a surfers’ mecca during the Globe Pro with over 200 pro surfers and event organisers taking over the island’s only hotel.
The coral reef that surrounds Tavarua means that the swell is one of the best for big wave surfing in the world with waves of over 50 feet occasionally developing in the right conditions. Facing south and south-west to the Southern Pacific, the main surf beach receives swells that have built up over the more than 2000 miles separating the island from New Zealand.
Although a year-round surfing destination the biggest waves tend to be seen in June when the Globe Pro is held. 2011’s competition saw winner Jake Morrison clinch victory by catching a 50 foot swell in the final heat. The size of the waves mean that the margins between spectacular victory and wipe-out in this competition are especially fine. Some of the finest surfers of the last two decades have come a cropper on the monster waves of Tavarua just at the moment when victory seemed assured.
However, with such waves racing in regularly winning means that taking the risk and catching a biggie is unavoidable for anyone looking to secure the renown of winning the Globe Pro. Winning the best wipe-out award at the Globe Pro has become almost as prestigious as coming out on top in the competition itself. Possibly the most memorable was Richie Long’s wipe-out from a 55 footer in the final heats of 2010, with Jessie Lornaghan’s demise the same year almost as dramatic.