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The 2022 IWT Fiji Pro Invitational was a groundbreaking wave sailing competition held at the end of August at the renowned wave of Cloudbreak. From all-time conditions to kit destroying wipeouts, a selection of competitors tell us about their experience of an epic event.

WORDS – Camille Juban, Morgan Noireaux, Kai Katchadourian, Bjorn Dunkerbeck, Jane Seman, Robby Swift.

Photos – Fish Bowl Diaries


Camille Juban – 1st Pro Men

To me the standout moment would be guys like Robby Swift, Antoine Martin, Morgan Noireaux and Bernd Roediger pushing their level and throwing big airs also. I love to see that and it got me fired up. Also having the g.o.a.t. of windsurfing, Bjorn Dunkerbeck, and his son giving back to the windsurf community by his presence at this event was super special.

I was using my new 70-litre AV-Boards custom that worked really well; for sails I was using the S2Maui 4.2 catalyst (3 batten) and 4.6 Dragon (4 battens).

Everyone is tuned up with their gear at this level, but on my side I think an advantage was the extra knowledge of the wave that no one else had as I had been before in May 2019 for 10 days. That experience allowed me to have a good wave selection in the final. Also adding a little physical training before the event gave me the mental confidence I needed to take the win.

The funny moments would be that where we were staying at Bayview Cove Resort, there were big parties every Saturday night which we enjoyed on the first Saturday because it’s always cool to cool to catch up with the boys and we knew we had a week without wind after that. But the problem was that when we started competing on the next weekend, of course none of the riders partied that Saturday night, but we couldn’t get a good night’s sleep because of the resort’s late night music and the stress of the competition.

The boat ride out to the reef was fun and hectic sometimes because that was a lot of gear on small boats and it was kind of a mission to get it all organized, we had to rig one by one on a moving boat full of gear and stuff.

But also I think that’s what makes these events special, you gotta earn your waves.

Fiji is such a nice place, as it’s kind of a poor country the surfing and windsurfing international scene is trying to help the locals as much as they can because the Fijians would do anything to help you have a good time so they really make you feel at home over there and I love that.

Morgan Noireaux – 2nd Pro Men

It’s always a funny feeling when you have seen endless images of a place before heading there yourself. It’s never quite the same as in your head. I’ve mind surfed Cloudbreak watching WSL events, I’ve seen videos from pretty much every angle, I’ve seen countless drone shots of where the reef is located, with Tavarua and Namotu in the distance. I knew exactly what to expect, yet still ended up surprised with just how incredible it is.

Fiji has always been a dream of mine, and competing there a pipe dream. The fact that Simeon and the IWT along with a lot of help from Ian and the Fiji Surf Company managed to organize an event at Cloudbreak 25 or so years after the PWA event held at Namotu left is incredible. It felt like being part of something pretty special. Logistically getting 20 windsurfers along with 20 or so crew members from the main island, which is a 40 minute boat ride from Cloudbreak, and taking over one of the best waves on the planet for 3 days seemed unlikely, but it happened.

When it’s small, Cloudbreak is relatively user friendly. It’s not super fast and it’s not ridiculously hollow. As soon as the swell gets a little bigger though that changes pretty quickly. It gets faster, a lot hollower and significantly more powerful. The tide also plays a big role in just how sketchy it is. At high tide you can sail in over the reef which is great. You can sail back out if it’s small enough and from what I’ve heard you can actually get some good jumps heading out when it’s windy, or sail down and around the reef if it’s massive. At low tide it’s a bit of a different story. If you don’t manage to kick out in time you will end up on dry reef. And in most cases you’re going to have to wait a few hours for the tide to rise to be able to get your gear. If you end up on the upper section of the reef you’ll probably be alright. If you end up farther down on the section called ‘shish kebabs’, you’re very likely, as the name implies, going to get skewered by the reef. The whole event was sailed around low tide.


Day one of the event was all-time. It was over mast high and we spent the morning watching John John Florence get barrelled until the wind finally started to pick up. It was pretty funny having John John wave while leaving the water for a windsurf event. The IWT did a great job of making sure to not take up too many hours in the day though so that the surfers were happy. The support we got from the surfers there was actually really cool, and a little unexpected.

It’s interesting having such high consequences during your heat. Even at Ho’okipa or Cabo Verde there’s a pretty good chance you can still get your gear back. At Cloudbreak If you fall or don’t make the wave you know you aren’t getting your rig back for a minimum of one heat if it somehow stayed intact. We all had multiple sets of gear ready and had it tied to the boats. If we crashed the jet skis would pick us up and get us to our spare rigs so that we wouldn’t lose too much time. My main goal was getting two good waves and not destroying my stuff before the final. It’s surprisingly hard to hold back when the conditions are so good. It’s a fine balance between playing it smart and still managing to be critical. It was funny seeing how different people dealt with risk. Some people were a bit more calculated and some just went all out regardless of the consequences.

Finals day was a bit smaller and windier. Still perfect in its own way but harder to choose the right waves and the good sections. Camille had us all beat in the first 7 minutes with some impeccable wave selection and huge airs and I managed to climb up to 2nd place near the end of the heat which I was happy with. The IWT has a multi-year deal for the event there so I’m already looking forward to going back and living the dream again.

Bjorn Dunkerbeck – 2nd Masters

Ian Muller and his team from Fiji Surf Company did a fantastic job on and off the water, happy and welcoming at all times. Cloudbreak, also called Thundercloud reef in local Fijian, is a big wall that runs down one of the oldest reefs in the world; it’s a fast wave with a lot of power.

We had some good solid days where it was starting to be exciting, but it was only 2 days of pre-competition sailing, so it was hard to get really dialled in this time, but still a lot of fun finally riding Cloudbreak. I was on my 100-litre board and 5.7 Severne Blade Pro most of the time, and on my 5.3 when it was windier.


The spirit between Simeon Glasson’s IWT team and all the riders was great and shows that we all love the same thing – windsurfing and wave sailing. We had great teamwork on the boats and the plan is to be back next year, bigger and stronger again. It was a gift for me to be able to enjoy an IWT wave event at Cloudbreak and compete against my son Liam in the same heat; that will never be forgotten that’s for sure and I must say he probably would have beaten me if Cloudbreak didn’t throw him on the reef on his second wave.

I played it safe and got 5 waves in my heat so I made it to the semi-final. In the light winds everyone made it out the back faster than me to have the pick of the waves, so I had to ride what I could find!

We had great times and talked about how to combine IWT and PWA wave events so that the wave sailors have more events. I believe that a way must be found as early as 2023! We all need to open our minds and do what’s best for our great sport for juniors, pros and masters. Now is the time to go all in and bring windsurfing back to what it used to be, the greatest of all the watersports, driven by natural wind and waves since day one 50 years ag0!

Kai Katchadourian – 1st Masters

The 2022 IWT Fiji Pro Invitational was historical on many levels. Returning to Fiji 25 years after the legendary PWA Namotu event, this time the IWT had obtained exclusive rights to all the reef breaks for three afternoons, but it was clear from the start, Cloudbreak was the spot that was directly and specifically targeted.

This was a dream scenario. The opportunity to ride Cloudbreak has been at the top of my list even before I moved to Maui in 1987. Fiji has always been a very elusive destination for me. For many years it was cost prohibitive, and even after the Fiji wave rights law went into effect in 2010, Fiji continued to be a very elusive place for me because of its remoteness.

I had known about sailing Cloudbreak from my good friend Scott Carvill who had told me about several sessions. I then watched the likes of Jason Polakow begin to score historical sessions on the famous reef and it became a very prominent goal of mine to get down there and sail Cloudbreak, but it was still challenging to do so nonetheless, so when the opportunity came to partake in this event I jumped at the chance.

The main source of swell for Fiji comes out of the Tasman Sea and it had been going through one of its worst seasons prior to the event window. Once everyone arrived though, there was a slow building of swell and we were able to sail a few different locations before Cloudbreak truly turned on. And when the waves did come, at first there was no wind, which gave us all an opportunity to surf this legendary wave with some world-class surfers and it was truly a spectacle.


The best-case scenario is to be able to surf a wave before you windsurf it and this was a very important acclimatisation for all the competitors who hadn’t ridden there before. The wave looks like it is coming from the clouds as it descends on the upper part of the reef and my fellow friends and I were able to trade epic rides. The anticipation grew as we saw wind creeping into the forecast and another series of swells incoming.

The competition started with the pro men in the first round and it was clear from the start that those who had been surfing the break the most were also in tune the most with Cloudbreak. It’s an amazing ride, the wave grows as it wraps around the reef and there were several instances where riders were taking off on head high waves that grew into mast high waves with sections that needed to be negotiated with an aggressive approach. In order to simply make the wave most pushed it to their limits, but there was a price to pay, which also kept a certain level of calculated risk as the best plan.

We watched in awe as the final was run and Camille took centre stage with a stunning display of his familiarity with the break. Cloudbreak is in fact quite scary, with the inside reef known as ‘shish kebabs’ looming as a distinct possibility for damage to body and kit for any slight mistake and the punishments ranged from deep cuts to more cosmetic types of scrapes.

A few of us scored a very solid session the day after the event ended with minimal crowds, perfect wind and 300 metre long waves.

Thank you to Simeon and the IWT for putting this event into windsurfing history. It was an honour to be a part of it, as well as a lot of fun calling the contest on the live stream and very rewarding to compete in the masters division, let alone win it. Those of us who were there are looking forward to next year already. We will never forget it. Vinaka to Fiji Surf Company and Tourism Fiji for their support of this instant classic.

Jane Seman – 1st Pro Women

Thunder from the heavens. That’s the translation of Kurukuru Mailani, the real name of Cloudbreak and it’s so right. When you’re riding the wave, time seems to slow, the world goes silent and all you can hear is the thunder of that barrel.

The silky-smooth perfection of the wave feels like a dream. And if there were a heaven, you’d probably be riding this wave for eternity. It’s a wave that feels somehow spiritual – that invites, and almost requires, a real connection with it. You have to get to know her well to sail her well. She has many moods and if you don’t respect her and spend quality time with her, she will simply discard you for destruction on her shallow inside reef.  And knowing that is the secret to competing well there. I had to drop my ego, my need to really push my limits and show others what I might be capable of aerial wise, because I knew I hadn’t mastered the wave quite well enough to do that. Especially not in heats with serious low tide consequences. Antoine and Liam had come out with all guns blazing to unfortunately lose winnable heats due to shredding gear on the inside. If I was going to lose, it would be the same way.


Instead, I focused on really surfing the wave and surprised myself with just how good that felt. I pushed myself to go vertical, to turn as tight as possible, right in the pocket next to the barrelling sections. It really made me appreciate the beauty of the wave and in doing that, it felt less and less like a competition and more and more like I’d found that real connection with Kurukuru.

That feeling got stronger each heat and I’d been aiming to push harder and harder each time we sailed. Kate Barker and I had sailed out for our third final, not knowing if it had been cancelled. And of course, the best sets of the day started rolling in consistently. Federico Morisio and Charliboy (Charles Vandemeulebroucke) were out, the flag was up, but Angela and Jessica were missing from the lineup. I knew I’d won, but was confused whether this third heat was still on. Still thinking we might be competing, we were hooting and sharing perfect waves with the boys, watching the boat sail off as the four of us continued our session of a lifetime. I think I was happier just scoring this session than I was even with winning. Kurukuru rewards those who put in the effort!

In the competition and when it was bigger, I rode my everyday 70-litre custom Severne, designed by Scotty McKercher. The narrow tail and thin back rails really let you do much more critical turns in the pocket and I just didn’t have to think – the board did everything I wanted. It’s my all-time favourite and is the first board ever that I really feel is well designed for a lighter person. So many wave boards with lower volume still have rails that are a bit too thick and tails that are a bit too wide for a girl to bury, but these just really let you surf the wave exactly how you want. On some lighter, smaller days, I used a floaty 75-litre version of the same board. This was a good ‘safety vessel’ as you could get out of the inside reef at mid to high tides. However, I’d always default to the smaller board on bigger days purely to fit in that tight pocket.


A core part of the Fiji experience were the small village boats that took us out to sea and became our rigging area. They were driven by local village fishermen who not only shared local knowledge and seamanship, but had also done it long enough to know that you tell the customer what they want to hear – “5 foot, 5 foot. It’s going to be windy.”

I’d reserved a brand new 4.7 Severne Blade for the competition day and was conscious that sail designer Ben Severne always looks out for batten tension. However, I couldn’t reach my second top batten on the boat and thought it looked good enough, so I left it as is. But of course, ‘good enough’ never is and whist it sailed as beautifully as always, in half the photos, those wrinkles in the second top batten pocket jump out at me more than anything else. A minor negative in a trip that was pure bliss.

The Fiji Pro trip is one that will be pulled out of the old memory drawer for many years to come. The joy from having new experiences and that buzz from sailing unknown perfection that was lost during covid lockdowns, returned with a vengeance. I’m proud to have won in Fiji and simply feel incredibly content with life.

Friendly vibe

Outside of the competition, the Fiji Pro was a really friendly vibe mixed with a real buzz and genuine stoke. Antoine just blew me away with his sailing approach. He’s so respectful in and out of the water, but just pushes limits like no one else. Normally you want to sail the moment it turns on, but Antoine is that guy who makes you stop and watch.

Refreshingly different amongst the typical Alpha male competitor is Bernd Roediger, who simply oozes emotional sensitivity. When he’s in the right headspace, he really looks to be more at one with the wave than anyone else. I think he may only lose when his mental state isn’t quite right.

Federico Morisio is not only super friendly and approachable, but it’s his environmental action that really sets him apart. So many of us do little things to minimise plastics and pollution, but he really goes the full nine yards with his vegan commitment and plastics avoidance. However, despite huge adjustments to his personal lifestyle, we still found a chink in his green armour. He wasn’t willing to part with his luscious hair to convert the rest of us to veganism for a year.

‘Charliboy’ is raw and naughtily hilarious. It was so, so wrong, but his impersonation of a dying baby cow as vegan Federico ate cheese on his pizza had everyone (except Federico) in stitches.

Completely nailing it in a final where anyone could win was Camille. He just knows exactly where and how to do massive airs here, which is definitely not as easy as he makes it look.

It was warming to see a friendlier and softer side of Bjorn with Liam, as I’d really only known him previously when he was most definitely ‘The Machine’. Meanwhile, Liam has that grommet fun, froth and cheekiness that lifts everyone around him.

Jessica Crisp is this classic, straight-talking Aussie with a huge passion for windsurfing and absolutely no ego (despite her incredible competitive achievements). She’s likewise a grand master who never preaches, but simply sets the right example by her actions.

I was impressed with how many genuinely nice-guy competitors there were. Morgan is that quieter, good guy, who just cuts loose on the waves. Competitively, he was close to big hitting Robby Swift, and it was his combination of stylish airs with a top-to-bottom turning style in-between that got him into second.

The Fijian people, as always, are just so friendly and welcoming and the girls back home did appreciate my photos of the strong Fijian warriors!

Robby Swift – 3rd Pro Men

Initial reaction – froth level 120%.

Expectations of Cloudbreak – through the roof!

Final feelings afterwards – met or exceeded my expectations on almost all levels. What a trip!

When I first heard about the possibility of a pro windsurf event in Cloudbreak, I was doubtful that it would ever happen. There has been a long and very involved history of changes of ownership of the reef there and it has been one of the most fiercely contested waves in terms of rights of passage in the history of surfing. There’s a whole movie about the incredible wave and the delicate situation there (definitely worth watching) called Thundercloud that you can find on iTunes and as you will see, there are so many political and big money factors affecting the use of the reef there that blocking it off for a contest has been completely unheard of since they created the “surf law” several years ago. So this year, when Simeon actually pulled it off and sent out the invites with a guarantee of 3 days of 6-hour windows to be blocked, signed by the Fijian Government, I jumped in head first and booked my tickets straight away.

When it comes to international windsurfing events, I normally stick to PWA events as I have been part of the PWA committee trying to decide on standards for World Cup level events for many years and I would like to stay true to my friends and colleagues on that front until we can find a way to make a structure where the IWT and PWA events can all be on one ranking and mutually benefit each other. But an event at Cloudbreak was an absolute top childhood dream of mine, so it wasn’t a decision I had to think twice about. Simeon Glasson who organizes the IWT made a ranking of past PWA and IWT wave events to select the invitees and kindly sent me an invitation based on my 2019 Aloha Classic placing as soon as it was confirmed, so I graciously accepted straight away.

It was no easy feat for them to put on this event. The logistics of moving that many people and boats out to the reef every day was a daunting experience and trying to pick the limited times we were allowed to block the reef for was also a stressful ordeal, but Simeon had support from the amazing crew of the Fiji Surf Company and support from local kiters and windsurfers on neighbouring islands for forecasting advice, so in the end the contest was an outright success.


After a lifetime of windsurfing some of the best waves in the world, I guess it is normal to feel spoilt and let down sometimes when you arrive at “epic” spots and you discover that there are good things and bad things about the wave, but this simply wasn’t the case at Cloudbreak. The first wave I caught felt exactly the same as when I had surfed the wave, only it was easier to catch as I had a sail, and also easier to make the sections as the wind was so perfectly angled that you could fly down the line to get past them. It was about logo high the first day, with some mast high sets. The tide was high which meant it was actually as safe as possible because you could do an aerial on the final ‘shish kebabs’ section and then straighten out and sail over the reef. I couldn’t believe how perfect every wave was. I would compare it to a really excellent Kona winds day at Lanes on Maui, but with less space after the reef before the wave jacks up, and as such, less time for chop to build up. The waves were as smooth as butter, as steep and powerful as you would ever want them for windsurfing and the barrel sections were just long enough to frighten you when you hit an aerial, but also not so long that you couldn’t make it past them in the air. It is literally the best windsurfing wave I have ever experienced.

One of the first impressions I remember of sailing there, and one that lasted throughout the trip, was the clarity of the water and how shallow the reef looks underneath you. The fact that it is so glassy means you can see straight down to the pristine coral reef and it looks like there is no water beneath you at all. It’s distracting when you first start sailing there, as you get scared that your fins will touch the reef, but after several waves, you kind of accept that it’s going to be OK and can relax into the session.

I would definitely say it’s an “experts only” situation. The consequences at any tide other than dead high tide are complete destruction of your gear as soon as you fall. There is no escape other than making the wave and managing to filter out to the channel before the next wave, so you have to be really aware of what is coming in behind your wave. You can’t change your mind at the last minute and go straight as you would just go right onto the dry reef.


That being said, the conditions are so perfect and the wave is such a high performance wave, that you can really go for it as hard as possible and be pretty confident that if you do everything right, you will be OK. There is no chop to throw you off like you get at most other “high performance” waves in the world. You can lean into your bottom turn with 100% confidence that you will go exactly where you are aiming your board and the wave has such a consistent form and shape that you can be confident that if you see a barrel section and go for an aerial off it, the lip will throw you out in front every time so you can really push your level of sailing through the roof with zero hesitation wondering if the wave will actually let you do what you want to with it. Can you tell that I loved sailing there?

I had one of the biggest and scariest aerials of my life during my first heat. It was probably the biggest wave I caught on the trip and the speed and power of the wave caught me off guard and left me in a position where I really had no choice but to do what I did and thankfully it paid off! I had done a slow turn to set up really deep on the wave to begin with and then saw the section setting up to reel off away from me and the only thing I could really do was to try an aerial or get stuck behind the section and go on the reef, so there was no option to second guess myself. When I watch the replay back in slow motion, I can actually see the lip of the barrel touch the middle of my sail right as I am going up to hit the lip.

Even half a second later, I would have received the boom in the side of my face for that piece of mistiming.  As it happened, I had the speed to get the board up to make contact with the underside of the barrelling lip and feel the projection back out into the flats.

I floated pretty high in the air with the offshore wind but didn’t want to get blown so high that I would land on top of the barrel with all that turbulent force, so I released the pressure of my back hand and leant forward to get the nose back down and project out in front of the wave. I landed about ¾ of the way down the face of the wave and it was so steep that the tail first landing almost caused the nose of the board to pearl on impact, but somehow I sensed it might happen and leant back to avoid the sudden death nose dive to barrel explosion with all my gear. It was a special moment for me as normally on the second wave of the heat, I won’t go for something like that since I know I need to make 2 waves first, but since I was left with no option, I went for it and made it.

After that wave, I was filled with adrenaline and on a high for the rest of the afternoon. I made the semi-final and then passed through to the final. The wind died after the semi-final so we couldn’t run the final that day, but since there were no more surfing boats left, we all jumped into the water to have one of the best surf sessions of my life. The 8 of us who went surfing were incredulous that we were at one of the most famous surfing waves in the world, alone, on what was for most of us one of the best surfing days of our lives. To say that I came in on the boat buzzing would be a major understatement.

Final day

Unfortunately for the event, the final day was a little bit of an anti-climax as the forecasted new swell never showed up and we had to deal with “only” head to logo high waves for the final, plus the new swell was coming a lot more out of the south, so the quality of the wave wasn’t the same. Camille clearly used his previous knowledge of the wave to pick up the better and more lined up south swells that came in, and was quite far ahead of the rest of us in the final. Morgan and I had a very close battle for 2nd place, which I’m told, could have gone either way. I managed to pull a goiter off on the super shallow ‘shish kebabs’ section, which was something I hadn’t dreamed of until the moment that I actually went for it. Having seen Camille on some bigger waves and knowing that I needed something special to give myself a chance, I had to go for it. It was a really sketchy section and if I had crashed, I would certainly have destroyed all my gear since it was dead low tide, but I managed to pull it off and was happy with myself, even though I only managed to end up in 3rd place.
All in all, it was an incredible trip. I would have paid that much money to go there on a pure surf trip, but to have the chance to compete in amazing conditions, with the entire break cleared for our own use during the contest was even more than a dream come true. I can’t thank the organizers and local crew at the event enough for the opportunity and it looks like they have the permits sealed to run this event again for the next 4 years, with bigger and better plans in mind. I will be there with bells and whistles on for as long as I am invited and I’m sure I’ll be visiting again with Jason on a giant swell forecast now that I know how amazing the wave is!

On a personal note, I was happy to compete in an event where I could really test my level of sailing in my favourite kind of conditions and to pull off 2 crazy moves which I really didn’t imagine myself making during two clutch moments, so it really fired me up for competition again since the past few contests I have been to have been a little lacklustre conditions wise. So I’m very much looking forward to the Aloha Classic at home on Maui in October!

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