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© 2019 Uncle Toad's Media Group, California, Video Production and Live Streaming

Volcom pipe pro

In 2012 Volcom first approached us about the feasibility of producing a live broadcast from the remote island Tavarua. For years the ASP (now known as the World Surf League) had struggled to cover this event due to its remoteness. After several failed attempts to live stream the event the sponsorship came up for grabs. Working very closely with Volcom we all agreed it could be done. 

That summer we kicked off the first of 2 years broadcasting from the middle of the ocean. The success of the event was immediately apparent and the live surf broadcasting was changed forever. 

The main challenge of the Volcom Fiji Pro is the remoteness. The venue itself is not attached to any piece of land. The wave is 2 miles out to sea on a remote reef pass. In the shallow waters of the reef pass there is a massive tower, purpose built to host professional surfing events. To get to the wave, known as Cloudbreak, you take a boat from the small island resort named Tavarua. The tiny island itself gets transformed into the event headquarters. Days before the event we start a 2 day load in process. Over 5 tons of gear gets hand carried from a offshore barge, over razor sharp reef into the Tavarua gym. This is then converted into our Master Control room. 

Those who have been fortunate enough to have visited the tiny island paradise of Tavarua are a few of the luckiest SOB’s on the planet. Tavarua is like the “mecca” of surfing. Every truly dedicated surfer plans to make at least one pilgrimage to Tavarua in their lifetime. Just like Mecca, though, the journey is long and arduous. Surrounded by an endless expanse of heavenly blue water, this island is miles away from any civilization, at least one boat trip, a car ride, and many hours away from an airport. Unlike Mecca, however, Tavarua is tiny and has a “wait list” that can go on for years. To some, the idea of waiting so long, then traveling that far could be epic, and the rewards far outweigh the labors of the journey. For those who attempt to put on a live broadcast from an island as remote as this one, the trip could be considered a bit of a logistical nightmare.

So just imagine a surf break on a reef pass, 2 miles out to sea from this teensie-weensie little island that sleeps less than 100 people.  Now try and imagine how to do a live broadcast.  Yes- a live broadcast- the kind with lots and lots and even more lots of heavy-ass equipment, up against impossible odds like: corrosive sea air and water, monster swells, and sheer distances that make communication horrendous.  UTMG was daunted with this seemingly unsurmountable task.  We took a look straight down that barrel (no pun intended) and laughed in the face of danger.  Hard to believe, but over the course of 10 insane days, the Championship Tour of Professional Surfers came and went and put on quite a show.

In June of 2012, Volcom hosted its first ever ASP World Championship Tour event in Fiji at the world famous Tavarua Island Resort.   This story requires lots of imagination- but continue to imagine now- a group of camera men crossing nearly a mile of treacherous reef under just inches of crystal clear water, carrying hundreds of pounds of expensive and delicate camera equipment.  The sun shines beautifully yet brutally overhead.  Picture a tower that stands 2 stories tall, erected over a mile out into the ocean.  Now factor in one of the most epic swells (and by epic, we just mean plain old big and mean.)  Now throw in 46 of the worlds best surfers and you’ve got a recipe for a seriously bad ass surf contest.

Carve Magazine out of the UK featured UTMG Producer Chris Steblay about the challenges and sea sickness that went along with the Fiji Pro.