Wilko wins the OK Fiji Pro, takes yellow jersey

Form Guide

TAVARUA/NAMOTU, Fiji (Thursday, June 15, 2017) - Matt Wilkinson (AUS) has won the Outerknown Fiji Pro, Stop No. 5 on the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), after an action-packed Finals Day that saw the world’s best surfers battle in pumping waves at Cloudbreak.
 
Wilkinson’s win comes after a hard-fought Final against 2017 CT Rookie Connor O’Leary (AUS), and triumphs over 2017 World Title contenders Michel Bourez (PYF) and Julian Wilson (AUS).
 
The Australian came into Fiji determined to take the win after earning a runner-up finish to 2014 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) at this event last year. Wilkinson’s incredible 2016 season saw him win the opening two events and finish the year in fifth place. Today’s win not only marks Wilkinson’s third CT victory, but sees him lead the elite World Title race heading into the next event.
 
“We’ve had an awesome week that started with pumping waves and then had some lay days,” said Wilkinson. “If you were going to have lay days anywhere, this is the place to do it. Happiness translates to results.”
 
Wilkinson will now sport the coveted yellow Jeep Leader Jersey with 26,750 points on the leaderboard. His win advances him past former frontrunner and reigning WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW), as well as Jordy Smith (ZAF), Adriano de Souza (BRA) and Owen Wright (AUS).
 
“I am so stoked,” continued Wilkinson. “It definitely feels good to pick up momentum rather than to have the yellow Jeep Jersey to lose. Now I have it to keep. Thanks to everyone - all my support crew and everyone that has helped me.”
 

Matt Wilkinson looked unstoppable throughout the event, charging his way to victory with a series of impressive performances (© WSL / Cestari)

An exciting Final saw both surfers post excellent-range scores in the opening ten minutes. The rookie took a slight edge thanks to his 6.50 back-up score and went on to build his advantage with a 7.37. Wilkinson battled through the rest of the 40 minute bout to turn the heat and with two minutes remaining his persistence paid off and an 8.03 was enough to earn him victory.
 
Today’s result sees O’Leary move up from 15th to 7th on the Jeep Leaderboard and secure his place firmly inside the Top 10. The impressive performance from the young Australian sees him leading the 2017 WSL Rookie of the Year race and become the only rookie to make a final this year. O’Leary won through every heat en route to the Final and defeated 2012 WSL Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS), fellow rookie Joan Duru (FRA) and 11X WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) before meeting Wilkinson in the Final.
 
“It was such a good final back-and-forth and I’m really glad we put on such a good show for everyone,” said O’Leary. “Wilkinson’s a legend. He got second here last year so he really deserves the win - he’s been ripping. I’m going to do some training and then head to Ballito and J-Bay.”
 

The in-form rookie Connor O'Leary jumps up to 7th place on the Jeep Leaderboard after a runner-up finish today (© WSL / Cestari)

Bourez battled eventual winner Wilkinson in Semifinal 1. The pair were neck-and-neck through much of the heat but a last-ditch effort from the Australian saw him earn a 5.90 and edge the win over Bourez. The result is the best of the season for the Tahitian who was a standout all event, posting consistently high scores and winning each heat on his way to the Semifinals.
 
“It’s a weird feeling because he got that wave with like 20 seconds to go,” Bourez said. “He (Wilkinson) just got it at the end so good on him. I’m just super happy to be here - it’s pumping, there are barrels and it’s a beautiful day. I wish I made the Final but at the end of the day I had fun.”
 
En route to his runner-up finish, O’Leary took down Parkinson, CT veteran and 2012 WSL Champion, in the second Semifinal. Parkinson gained the lead on his opening exchange with a 6.83, but the rookie dominated with an excellent 8.00 and 7.40 for the win. Parkinson’s 3rd place finish marks his best result of the season and puts him in 6th place on the Jeep Rankings.
 
“I’m a little disappointed but stoked with a Semifinal,” said Parkinson. “I’ve had pretty scrappy heats today so I really wanted to go out there and do the surfing I know I can do. Going into the dream leg of the tour I’m happy with a Semifinal finish. J-Bay is definitely one of my favorite events coming up.”
 
The Outerknown Fiji Pro was an incredible event for the 2017 rookie class with Leonardo Fiovaranti (ITA), Duru and Ian Gouveia (BRA) all making it through to Finals Day and delivering their best results of the season. The three rookies Fioravanti, Gouveia and Duru, each caused a stir in Round 3 where they eliminated top seeds Florence, Wright and Smith respectively. Fioravanti was eventually eliminated by Bourez in the Quarterfinals after sending home Gouveia in Round 5 while Duru couldn’t overcome runner-up O’Leary.
 
Outerknown Fiji Men’s Pro Final Results:
1 - Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 16.60
2 - Connor O’Leary (AUS) 15.70
 
Outerknown Fiji Men’s Pro Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.23 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.00
SF 2: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 15.40 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8.36
 
Outerknown Fiji Men’s Pro Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 17.00 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.30
QF 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) 17.80 def. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 13.57
QF 3: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 11.16 def. Joan Duru (FRA)
QF 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.67 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.23
 
Outerknown Fiji Men’s Pro Round 5 Results:
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.34 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 7.34
Heat 2: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 14.83 def. Ian Gouveia (BRA) 11.33
Heat 3: Joan Duru (FRA) 17.33 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.50
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.57 def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 12.36
 
2017 WSL Men’s Jeep Leaderboard (After Outerknown Fiji Men’s Pro):
1 - Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 26,750 points
2 - John John Florence (HAW) 26,500 points
3 - Jordy Smith (ZAF) 26,150 points
3 - Adriano de Souza (BRA) 26,150 points
3 - Owen Wright (AUS) 26,150 points

Comments

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 15 Jun 2017 at 4:07pm

Okay Zen where's your comments? this is your area of expertise :D

Glad Wilko won, but was disappointed JJF and Kelly got knocked out, didn't see much of the comp, saw some heats today and some smoking waves, but otherwise was a bit disappointing this year on quality of waves when i did tune in.

I still think there really needs to a comp in Indonesia at some very consistent wave, i often lose interest when it's on and then off for days, somewhere like G-Land you could just go bang one swell and get it run in 3 days.

But i guess trying to fit the women heats in also and score them decent waves is also the problem.

Ada gula, ada semut!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 15 Jun 2017 at 4:10pm

Fitting in Womens heats for this event didn't matter.. 'twas a different waiting period.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 15 Jun 2017 at 4:52pm

ok

Ada gula, ada semut!

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Thursday, 15 Jun 2017 at 5:21pm

Ha Indo, cheers, but I'm no expert- just somebody who holds an opinion which is, albeit, quite skewed at times.

Congrats Wilko, Michel was the form surfer though and good effort from Connor.

I'd like to see Ethan Ewing step up, he's an unknown quantity and a string of 25ths will probably see him come and go without having made a dent. If J-Bay is good, this could be his chance to strike.

Also, i wouldn't write Gabs off just yet, a title maybe but I reckon he'll still get in the top ten- he's too good.

Ignorance is Zen

Billyw's picture
Billyw's picture
Billyw commented Thursday, 15 Jun 2017 at 6:52pm

go the aussie goofy's! put the brazzo swarm back in its place....until the tour heads back to crumbly beachies

B Dub

tux's picture
tux's picture
tux commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 7:50am

Go Wilko...hopefully he gets on a roll and comes home with the title. ..hes got the chops to take J-Bay...Trestles...France and Portugal I reckon

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 2:06pm

Hard to believe that last wave of Parkos 6.9 was better than Stu Kennedys 6.33,lame.Love to know if some heats are rigged..........mmmm bit like the rugby league,suspect IMO

simba

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 2:23pm

I agree Simba I thought Stueys turns were almost artistic so tight in the pocket with beautiful flow and still radical. The guy is a stylish surfer and made Parko look a bit wooden on his backhand. Bigger wave but Stu was the way better surfer in that heat and really enjoyed watching him surf. Sure makes a change from the Brazo cookie cutter factory and glad to see De Souza get shafted. Word from Lakeys is the locals didn't like him or his attitude at all, which went for all the Brazos there (and there were heaps of them). Don't do themselves too many favours.