Big Cloudbreak is frightening & simultaneously beautiful
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 3 February, 2014 - In June of 2012, Fiji’s Cloudbreak delivered one of surfing’s most historical days. A momentous swell rolled smack-bang into the middle of the contest window for one of professional surfing’s most anticipated events, the Volcom Fiji Pro, and surf fans salivated at the thought of the world’s top rated surfers being put to the ultimate test.
As many contestants prepared themselves to face down the fear of annihilation at the hands of the ocean at it’s most awe-inspiring, a decision was eventually made to call off the event. It was a decision that divided the surfing world and cast further doubt over the professionalism of the sport. A select few paddled out anyway and joined by a host of big-wave surfing’s most dedicated performers, uncovered a new realm of bravado.
A realm where immortality was not certain, but certainly tested and where Cloudbreak, a wave that had been off limits to the surfing public since its discovery in the early 80s, revealed herself as almost inexplicably frightening and simultaneously beautiful.
'Thundercloud' is the documentary that traces the history of one of the world’s most controversial and revered surfspots through to this epic day.
Directed, produced, filmed and edited over three years by One Palm Media’s Talon Clemow, the two hour film was originally intended to showcase the incredible surfing captured from three key, groundbreaking swells at Cloudbreak, the first of which occurred in 2010.
As filming progressed, it became clear to Clemow that a deeper, richer story about one of the world’s first-ever surf resorts, Tavarua Island - established on the atoll closest to the infamous Cloudbreak – had for the most part, remained undocumented and this became the background narrative for 'Thundercloud'.
“After they set up camp there in 1984, Tavarua’s American founders, Scott Funk and Dave Clark, established one of surfing’s most unique agreements; they were granted exclusive access and control of a world-class wave via a collaboration between the regions local custodians and the Fijian Government - and that access was heavily enforced,” explains Clemow.
“As a business strategy it was a master-stroke, but as a precedent for the globe’s nomadic tribe of surfers, it was downright scary. How many other idyllic surf spots might also become restricted? Fortunately, the exclusive resort model remains largely unduplicated and it is only because of the recent decree (change in Fijian law) that these groundbreaking sessions became possible."
'Thundercloud’s all-star surf cast includes Mark Healey (Haw), Shane Dorian (Haw), Reef McIntosh (Haw), Greg Long (USA), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Laurie Towner (AUS), Grant “Twiggy” Baker (ZAF), Dave Wassal (Haw), Mick Fanning (AUS), Makua Rothman (Haw), Ryan Hipwood (AUS) and Kelly Slater (USA). Additional photography has been provided by Jon Frank, Chris Bryan, Andrew Christie, Nick Pollet, Matt Shuster, Kendall O’Brien and Shagga Saffigna
World premier is 13th February 2014 at Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, Cremorne, NSW