Cyclone reduces Cloudbreak tower to splinters

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

"We want to show the world Fiji has come back stronger," says Ian 'Kini' Muller, longtime Cloudbreak local, via email.

Attached to the email were photos of a Fijian flag raised above a timber wreck. An explanation was in order.

Fijians, like the rest of the world, went into enforced lockdown back in early April. A few days afterwards, Tropical Cyclone Harold, the strongest South Pacific cyclone in two years, swept in from the northwest after killing one person in the Solomon Islands and reducing buildings in Luganville, Vanuatu's second biggest city, to rubble.

Harold tracked just south of Fiji as a Category 3 cyclone with winds gusting to 160km/h across the Mamanuca Islands. It was these winds that blew the Cloudbreak tower fair off its foundations.

All that's left of the Cloudy tower (Kini/Fiji Surf Co)

Built in 1999 for the inaugural Fiji Pro, then sponsored by Quiksilver who split the bill with the ASP to use it as a judging tower. It's since been used for each succesive contest at Cloudbreak up until the WSL and OuterKnown walked away one year into a three year deal. That was in 2017, with the tower falling into disrepair ever since.

Photographer Peter 'Joli' Wilson last saw the tower in February and said poles on the southeast corner had rotted all the way through.

After taking a battering from the combined effects of cyclone Harold and COVID-19, Kini recently raised a Fijian flag on the ruins of the Cloudbreak tower. The gesture a symbolic show of defiance. "We might be down but we're not out," says Kini.

"Fiji is now COVID free with no deaths thanks to the government, health workers, law enforcements, and our dedicated citizens. We stand with the world in solidarity. We will get through this together."

"Fiji is strong!"

According to Kini, there have been no plans to rebuild the tower yet.

The tower in 2016, adorned in WSL livery (WSL)

As for surfing, Fiji is urging Australia and New Zealand to include them in the trans-Tasman 'tourist bubble'. Yet even if that were to happen, travel couldn't resume till September at the earliest meaning the bulk of the season has passed.

Comments

craig.rees's picture
craig.rees's picture
craig.rees commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 2:02pm

I was lucky enough to surf it the morning Sco Mo put the 2 week isolation rule in place. Surfed it for 2 hours early, flew back in the arvo and just made the cutoff. Tower was looking pretty dodgy for sure.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 2:13pm

Fitting really, tower could be seen from airplanes coming and leaving
Fiji. a chicken pie in Fiji! A must every time.

warddy's picture
warddy's picture
warddy commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 3:45pm

I sincerely hope they dont rebuild it , fucking eyesore

dylza's picture
dylza's picture
dylza commented Friday, 12 Jun 2020 at 8:29am

Agreed! Bloody ugly thing

trevbucky's picture
trevbucky's picture
trevbucky commented Sunday, 14 Jun 2020 at 12:16am

Exactly! That thing shouldn’t have been there in the first place, so Mother Nature has removed it as she always does eventually. Who ever built it should clean it up & totally remove it... hello... WSL?

damo_s23's picture
damo_s23's picture
damo_s23 commented Thursday, 18 Jun 2020 at 11:31am

It is ugly but its pretty useful to position yourself in the lineup when you're bobbing around 2 miles out in the ocean. Every time I've surfed there I used the tower and the hills in the background to position myself, especially as the current is often super strong without a reference point you could end up drifting way out of position between sets. I guess you could just use the boats in the channel maybe...

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 4:01pm

The WSL, having declaring their ownership of decades of pro surfing history, will no doubt be rushing a team in to clean that shit off the reef ASAP.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 4:16pm

Fair point.

Fatso's picture
Fatso's picture
Fatso commented Friday, 12 Jun 2020 at 11:56am

First thought that crossed my mind Blowin. More crap in the ocean....used it, don't need it now, she'll be right, someone else will clean it up. More environmental vandalism from an industry that should know better, but are more concerned about the mighty dollar.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 5:00pm

From another thread:

For those who have been, does anyone have a preference for Tavarua or Namotu?

lost's picture
lost's picture
lost commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 7:09pm

Hard to go wrong with either. Tav is closer to cloudies and restaurants is out front. Namotu has the more user friendly Namotu lefts and swimming pools and the forgotten right across the channel. You can surf all breaks from both islands with their boats. More mals and cruisers at Namotu

knB

Monkeymagic's picture
Monkeymagic's picture
Monkeymagic commented Saturday, 13 Jun 2020 at 11:14pm

Liked it for the fact it gave u a reference point in the lineup, BIG arena. I’ll miss it

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 5:21pm

Not much on Namotu just a tiny bit of sand. Tavarua is much bigger in comparison but still small. I would go Tavarua can get out of the wind in the arvo which can blow a gale Namotu is super exposed.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 7:13pm

Thanks Mem and lost. Such an exorbitant trip but is something I’d love to do just once. Have been over there but staying right on it would be something else I’d imagine. Looks like heaven on earth.

troyrussell77's picture
troyrussell77's picture
troyrussell77 commented Monday, 15 Jun 2020 at 5:07pm

Hey Solitude, I've been to fiji 6 times and have flagged those 2 islands. I stay at Plantation Island and know the crew there pretty well. Boat ride is a bit longer but have always surfed for 3 + hours and back for lunch. most of the time it's blown out after lunch and your body needs time to get over catching so many waves from the morning. You also have a crap load more things to do and save your self a deposit on a car at the same time :)

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Monday, 15 Jun 2020 at 6:39pm

I'll 2nd that. Stayed at Plantation (Mololo) island both trips Ive done to Fiji and everything Troy Russel says is right on.

*Last time I was there was 2011 but

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Monday, 22 Jun 2020 at 7:51pm

They leave early from there to cloudy?

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Monday, 22 Jun 2020 at 8:40pm

Both trips when I stayed there you'd be on the move within 30-60minutes of 1st light and its about a 25 minute ride. You work it all out with them on the afternoon before.

Only handbrake can be if you've got crew on board who wanna surf Namotu or Wilkes as opposed to C.B. I had a few runs where there was only 4 or 5 of us and it was straight to Cloudbreak with no fucking around.

Each trip you get between 3 and 4 hours of surf time.

I've racked up about a dozen surfs out at C.B and can honestly say I was pumped after every one of them. Would get back to Malolo around 11.30-12 and be more than happy to do whatever my girl wanted for the rest of the day!

savanova's picture
savanova's picture
savanova commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 9:42pm

Aw man used to love looking back at the tower pretending Joey T & Potts were frothing over my last wave.

ilikelamb's picture
ilikelamb's picture
ilikelamb commented Thursday, 11 Jun 2020 at 11:43pm

Yep, every paddle back out they’d be breaking down my poo stance head dip and hot rail off the cut down.
I’m glad it’s gone, it’ll take the pressure off.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 12 Jun 2020 at 8:49am

Wondering if, now that the judging tower cum photographers platform is gone, Cloudbreak will be come less enticing for the paid free surfer with obligatory cameraman in tow.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 12 Jun 2020 at 9:02am

'Paid free surfer' is still a thing?

Ah, did you mean paid-free?

I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

Christian east coast's picture
Christian east coast's picture
Christian east coast commented Saturday, 13 Jun 2020 at 8:36am

Why the hostility thermal boy?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 13 Jun 2020 at 8:47am

No hostility at all.

I am just very surprised that surf companies can still justify paying large salaries for people to go surfing, in order to promote their brand.

It's nothing to do with the skill (or personality) of the surfer, the quality of the video production, or the history of the surf company. It's simple economics 101.

And, it's not just relevant to the current economic climate (i.e. Covid-19) either; surf companies have gone through tumultuous change over the last ten years as surfing has become a less desirable fashion accessory.

As such, I just can't see how freesurfing videos from (say) Fiji make a significant impact on the bottom line of surf companies any more, when the brands can (and do) collaborate with non-surfing social media "influencers" to reach an exponentially bigger audience.

sandspit's picture
sandspit's picture
sandspit commented Friday, 12 Jun 2020 at 9:10am

amazing this is what the tower looked liked between comps

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Friday, 12 Jun 2020 at 2:13pm

That's pro surfing right there .
Smoke and Mirrors!

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Friday, 12 Jun 2020 at 12:03pm

I actually found that tower pretty handy on the 2 trips I've done to Fiji. Was a good point of reference combined with Tavarua when working out exactly where you were in the line up.

eel's picture
eel's picture
eel commented Friday, 12 Jun 2020 at 7:11pm

Yep, Kelly once gave away one of his lineup points (in an interview) that I would use when it was 3-6 foot - Sitting further up the reef than the tower you would look at the point where the mainland met the tower at water level and sit right there. It worked a treat. When it was proper 6 - 8 foot I was too scared to sit that deep. I would find myself at the tower or even further past it when it was big.

wally's picture
wally's picture
wally commented Saturday, 13 Jun 2020 at 12:42pm

The WSL has been secretly testing a new tower to be towed in and planted at Cloudbreak. It’s very hush-hush, but here is a leaked photo of the water safety team being deployed from the trial structure.

Remigogo's picture
Remigogo's picture
Remigogo commented Saturday, 13 Jun 2020 at 9:31pm

I have heard somewhere, that similar plans are afoot for surfers point if the 5 star resort gets built... Margaret river.

see.saw's picture
see.saw's picture
see.saw commented Saturday, 13 Jun 2020 at 3:19pm

Ha. Waterworld. Check the old skis

djizzah's picture
djizzah's picture
djizzah commented Monday, 15 Jun 2020 at 8:53am

thank god its gone, uglier than a bucketfull of arseholes it was

ken.vincent's picture
ken.vincent's picture
ken.vincent commented Monday, 15 Jun 2020 at 10:22am

Same as Lakey : eyesore towers , concrete cancer, weird statues & 4 lanes of blacktop that don't connect to anything!. This is not a good reminder of what professional surfing does for remote communities in far off lands.

jacksprat's picture
jacksprat's picture
jacksprat commented Tuesday, 16 Jun 2020 at 3:32pm

So does this mean Quiksilver is finally and officially deceased?

onetimeonly