Words by Jason Polakow: Having previously missed out on a swell in the Pacific Islands, the Australian pledged to never do so again. Here, Jason Polakow (JP / NeilPryde0 details his epic windsurfing trip with Marcilio Browne (Goya Windsurfing) in his own words.
Last year, I missed out on one of the biggest swells ever in Fiji and told myself I didn’t want to miss another swell heading that way.
Looking at the weather charts, it was easy to see that Fiji was going to get hit hard with a good size swell and plenty of wind on the peak of the swell. My thinking was I was already in Australia visiting my parents and it’s only a four-hour flight to Fiji, so why not?
Since my epic trip to Indonesia two seasons ago I’ve not had great waves so I’ve been craving that adrenaline rush you get when dropping into a huge wave. I put out a few emails to the boys to see if anyone was keen and the next day got a call from Braw (Marcilio ‘Brawzinho’ Browne) asking if he could join me.
A trip chasing good waves with Braw was always on my to-do list, so I was more than happy to take him along. He’s one of the top down-the-line wave sailors in the world, if not the best, so I was really looking forward to watching him sail down there.
We both knew it was only going to be one epic day of good waves and wind, so we were up at 5am and in the boat heading up to Cloudbreak by 5.45am. It can be surprisingly windy first light there and this day didn’t disappoint. We arrived with 15 to 18 knots of wind offshore and solid eight-foot surf. As always, I went nuts and we both started scrambling for our gear to get in the water.
One of my favourite moments that day was watching Braw’s first ride there. We were on the outside when the first set came through and I told him to go for it. He gybed, taking the last wave of the set. I watched from the outside as he dropped into the wave and his mast tip disappeared from my view then reappeared as he cut back off the lip.
It was a pretty cool memory watching him ride that wave at sunrise, with the sun just above the ocean line. Spray was pouring off the back of the wave with every turn he did until he went so far down the line he disappeared from my view.
My board was put into wind and I waited for another set wave. A few minutes later I heard him screaming as he made his way back out – he was just tripping out on how glassy the wave was. He told me you could ride any kind of board out there and you would be ripping. He was so happy and I’m sure he will always remember that first set wave he got there.
It only takes one epic ride to satisfy any fanatical windsurfer and Braw had the best move of the trip. He hit the lip super late and super deep on a set wave. And I’m sure that one wave he got alone was worth all the time and cost involved to get him down there.
As for myself I had so much fun catching sets and sharing the experience with Braw. I could not really hit the lip or do aerials due to a nagging knee injury and I was forced to wear a knee brace to help stabilise my knee during our session, but I still had so much fun just surfing the wave.
We both sailed six-hours straight, Braw having to stop due to muscle cramps in his legs and forearms and myself from wearing holes in my hands from not having enough calluses. The palms of my hands were bleeding badly. Braw said it’s the worst he has ever seen, so you can imagine how bad they were.
We were both dead from a full day on the water. An amazing trip that is now logged in my memory forever.
You can see Jason Polakow’s highlights from a memorable Cloudbreak mission here.
Photo Credit: Stuart Gibson & Daniel Hadler