Fiji: Field Notes with Ulu Napeahi

Photos: Tom Servais

As surfers we prepare ourselves by surfing everyday for trips like these; however, the trip to Fiji was really last minute. I was helping Makua Rothman pack his boards, and he tells me, “Brah, what are you doing? Book a ticket!” Without hesitation, I scrambled to get my ticket booked as soon as possible, threw some of my favorite DHD boards in a bag, and packed a backpack of clothes. It was a no brainer. Me being a goofy footer all I could think about were long lefts, big barrels, and dry reef. But at the moment, I really had no clue what I was getting myself into, I just knew it would be a dream come true. I discovered that Makua and I would be meeting up with guys like Danny Fuller, Reef McIntosh, Dane Gudauskas, and Balaram Stack. I was so ready! UluNapeahiservais15_29863

My entire life I looked up to this group of humans as “super stars,” and I always wanted to be just like them. So being with this group for me was out of this world. On our adventure everyone got along so well. It was the typical surf trip – sharing stories, laughing, and overall psyched to surf. We all were there for the same reason, to get barreled out of our minds. Because I was the youngest out of the group, I acted as a sponge and tried to gain as much knowledge as I could from these guys.

When we got to Fiji, the forecast was showing some really good surf in the 6 to 8ft. range with some 12ft. sets. Sure enough when we showed up at Cloudbreak, we got just what we expected. The waves were absolutely flawless! And I could not believe I was there. I surfed literally eight hours a day and there’s no place I would rather be than right there in that moment. 

I was amazed at the surfing that was taking place. The level of charging and barrel riding was set at the highest standard. It was an honor and privilege to watch it all go down. Personally, I think Dane Gudauskas got the best wave of the trip. It was a bigger wave that missed the outside section of the reef and swung wide to the inside bowl. It held its size, so when it hit the reef it just boxed out into a big beautiful barrel. Not to mention he was positioned as deep as you could possibly be. That ride stood out the most to me. 

It was my first time surfing Cloudbeak. Surprisingly, I was really comfortable out there. I got to learn quickly a lot about the wave and how it forms across the long stretch of reef. I also learned quickly how you can get absolutely pounded! It was at that size when the inside double ups were the good ones. But there were also random freak sets that would break right on your head every now and then. I would say we all took a fair share of beatings from duck diving and getting blown to the lagoon and by having sets land on our heads; however, Makua got it the worst hahaha.

The main reason why I love traveling is experiencing and learning about new cultures and their traditions. Fijians are pure with culture and have a great understanding of the importance of carrying on their traditions. And they happen to be some of the nicest humans who respect everyone and everything. I am so blessed to have gained all that I experienced. Thanks to everyone who came together and helped make this trip happen. 


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