The Outerknown Fiji Women’s Pro, Stop No. 5 on the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), saw major players eliminated from the draw today with the completion of Round 4, the Quarterfinals and Semifinals in three-to-four foot (1 – 1.2 metre) conditions. In-form surfers Courtney Conlogue (USA) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) have been charging Cloudbreak all week and will match-up in in the Final when competition resumes.

A close Semifinal match-up saw Weston-Webb take down No. 3 on the Jeep Leaderboard Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) by only 0.14 points. Two-time event winner Fitzgibbons opened up with a 7.67 to control the heat, but Weston-Webb threw down two 6.77-point rides for the lead. Fitzgibbons had one last attempt in the dying seconds of the heat, but was not able to earn the score. Fitzgibbons will be eliminated from the event with her third Semifinal finish of the season while Weston-Webb secures her first Final appearance of 2017.

“I am feeling super good,That heat was hard. Sally [Fitzgibbons] is always good at getting started quickly and that is what she did. It took my best abilities for me to bring it back. I am really stoked. I just have to focus on the Final now.”

Tatiana Weston-Webb

En route to her career-best result in Fiji Conlogue dispatched reigning WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) in Semifinals. With limited opportunities in the lineup, the heat came down to an intense game of tactics. Conlogue got the edge with a 0.34-point lead over Wright with just a 2.17 backup score to her 6.00. Wright was not able to earn the required score and will leave with an Equal 3rd place result while Conlogue will advance on to the Final where she will meet Weston-Webb.

“I don’t even know what to say, I’m just happy that I got through that heat, I went along for the ride and it paid off. We were fighting for 3’s out there which very rarely happens at Cloudbreak. I’m really happy to be in the Final and I’m looking forward to having some fun exchanges.”

Courtney Conlogue

Earlier in the day defending event winner Johanne Defay (FRA) dropped out of the draw in the Quarterfinals at the hands of Conlogue. Big scores from both surfers made for an exciting match-up but at the end of the 35-minute heat it was the American who had the advantage, sending Defay home in 5th place.

Sage Erickson (USA) was disappointed with her Quarterfinal defeat by a focused looking Wright. Erickson was a standout on day one of the event and the second consecutive fifth-place finish is her best ever result in Fiji.

“I probably haven’t been this pissed in a really long time, It sucks to feel like I didn’t have the opportunity. I feel like my surfing is there and it’s really irritating to come up in a heat when there weren’t many waves. She (Wright) got 6’s so it wasn’t a knockout so I do take some confidence from that. I’ll take a lot from this event but I’m not happy. I’ll have to work harder and pay more attention to the details.”

Sage Erickson

3X WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) was dispatched in the Quarterfinals by finalist Weston-Webb. The result is the fourth Quarterfinal exit for Moore this season.

Eventual Semifinalist Fitzgibbons took charge of her Quarterfinal bout against Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) with a 15.33 heat total, leaving Van Dijk in need of a Perfect 10 that she was unable to find. The result is Van Dijk’s third Quarterfinal appearance in Fiji.

Wildcard Bethany Hamilton (HAW) was eliminated by Wright in Equal 9th after an exciting match-up between the pair in Round 4. After a strong start from Hamilton, Wright built a 13.56 heat total to put the pressure on. The world champion improved her score with an 8.17, the highest of the heat, and Hamilton was left searching for an excellent 8.83. After an incredible performance at the event last year Hamilton make it all the way to the Semifinals by blazing through the draw and causing a string of upsets along the way, including taking down both Wright and Gilmore.

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) was eliminated in Round 4 by Weston-Webb. The surfer from Hawaii didn’t hold back and a 15.60 two-wave total put the 6X WSL Champion in a combination situation with half the heat gone. Three powerful turns from Gilmore weren’t enough to break the combination and she is sent home with her worst result of the season.

“That was a tough one, I just couldn’t really hit a section confidently. I was in two minds out there. It is tough to lose in Round 4 – it stings at this point in the race, but it is what it is. I’ve got a couple months to work on things and get ready for Huntington.”

Stephanie Gilmore

Current No. 7 on the Jeep Leaderboard Lakey Peterson (USA) went head-to-head with Conlogue in an all-Californian affair in the opening heat of the day. Peterson kept busy, catching nine waves, but wasn’t able to find the 5.11 that was required to challenge Conlogue and is sent home in 9th place.

Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7 am local time to assess conditions and make the next call.

Surfline, official forecaster for the event, are calling for:
The SW swell that filled in today with fun size and decent consistency will ease on Wednesday. We’ll look for the largest surf early on the lower/incoming tide, with a slow decreasing trend through the day. The swell/surf is expected to trend down further through the end of the work week.

The event will be broadcast LIVE via the WSL website, the WSL app and on Facebook LIVE via the WSL’s Facebook page.

Outerknown Fiji Women’s Pro Final Match-Up:
Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)

Outerknown Fiji Women’s Pro Semifinal Results:
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 8.17 def. Tyler Wright (AUS) 7.83
Heat 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 13.54 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.40

Outerknown Fiji Women’s Pro Quarterfinal Results:
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 16.26 def. Johanne Defay (FRA) 14.96
Heat 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.50 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 2.43
Heat 3: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 13.40 def. Carissa Moore (HAW) 12.83
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.53 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 7.50

Outerknown Fiji Women’s Pro Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 10.10 def. Lakey Peterson (USA) 8.90
Heat 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 15.40 def. Bethany Hamilton (HAW) 10.67
Heat 3: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 15.60 def. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 8.87
Heat 4: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 14.80 def. Keely Andrew (AUS) 13.66

Commissioner Jessi Miley-Dyer (centre) with Outerknown Fiji Women’s Pro finalists Tatian Weston-Webb of Hawaii (left) and Courtney Conlogue of the USA (right) were excited to announce the final will take place on Sunday in expected 6-8 foot Cloudbreak conditions, a move set to make World Surf League history as the womens event window has been extended to incorporate the record setting conditions for women’s Championship Tour surfing.
Credit : © WSL / Cestari

STOP PRESS: The men’s and women’s Commissioners (Kieren Perrow and Jessi Miley-Dyer) have coordinated to allow the women’s Final to take place on Sunday morning, the opening day of the men’s window, when the surf is projected to be solid.

“Final day of the window and we don’t have any surf on offer,” said WSL Deputy Commissioner Jessi Miley-Dyer. “The concept behind the OK Fiji Pro is to have both the men and women challenge themselves in solid, critical conditions. We can’t always promise that and while we’ve had some impressive surfing already this week, conditions deteriorated too rapidly to complete the event. Coordinating with Commissioner Kieren Perrow and our events team across logistics, we’re very excited to announce that the women’s Final of the OK Fiji Pro will be held Sunday morning in projected solid surf at Cloudbreak.”

“Jessi and I work really closely together to try and get everyone in great surf and that’s really important because the men and the women both want equal opportunity,” said WSL Commissioner, Kieren Perrow. “This is a really unique opportunity, we’re down to the Final and Jessi made a good call not to run when the conditions had deteriorated. This decision gives us the ability to put the women out in the Final, the pinnacle of the event, in incredible surf and go head-to-head in the waves that we come to Fiji for.”

Courtney Conlogue (USA) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), two of the hardest-charging surfers in the field, will battle for the event title in solid six-foot (10 foot faces) Cloudbreak in front of the world’s best male surfers as they await the commencement of Round 1.

Conlogue stormed her way to the Final by defeating reigning WSL Champion and No. 1 on the Jeep Leaderboard Tyler Wright (AUS) and defending event winner Johanne Defay (FRA).

“I’m really looking forward to what’s to come, it’s really exciting,” Conlogue said. “I’m so looking forward to this Final knowing that WSL is giving us the opportunity to wait for swell. This has never been done before and to allow us to showcase in good waves is going to be incredible and especially in a place like Fiji. To have a Final with Tatiana in swell is going to be incredible.”

Weston-Webb earned her first Final appearance of 2017 with a string of incredible victories that saw her take down two-time event winner Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 3X WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) and 6X World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS).

“It’s really taken a lot of self belief to get here and I’m so happy I made the Final,” said Weston-Webb. “I’m really excited that the WSL has chosen to give us a huge opportunity, surf some big waves and explore possibilities. It’s definitely going to be exciting and I hope to really put on a show for everyone.”

Surfline, official forecaster for the event, are calling for:

Minor/flat surf prevails Friday. New, long period SW swell builds through Saturday with overhead surf developing at Cloudbreak through the morning and even larger surf in the afternoon. That swell peaks Sunday, along with new, shorter to mid period SW swell for solid surf at Cloudbreak. A new, long period SW swell picks up on Monday to keep the surf strong, before fading through mid next week. More swell is on the radar in the long range.

The event will be broadcast LIVE via, the WSL app and on Facebook LIVE via the WSL’s Facebook page. Also check the local listings for coverage on CBS Sports Network in the U.S., Fox Sports in Australia, ESPN in Brazil, Sky NZ in New Zealand, SFR Sports in France and Portugal and as part of the EDGEsport Network.