Mark Miedama managed to catch one of the swells of the year recently out in Fiji. We caught up with the Australia-based waterman to talk about his experience riding the famous wave 'Cloudbreak'.
Hi Mark, thanks for sitting down and talking to us about your recent adventure to Fiji. How was the trip, is it your first time on the island?
This was my first time ever in Fiji, and very fortunate enough to be here for this swell. I was truly blown away with how many different world class surfing and kiting spots were so close to each other. It is the ultimate watermans playground.
Can you explain a bit about the wave Cloudbreak, how easy is it to ride?
Cloudbreak is the real life wave machine. I've never seen a wave break so consistently with out the size affecting how perfect it is. For kiting it was a challenging wave to ride with the side off off wind angle combined with the wave bending around the reef making it even more offshore towards the end. The wave usually is run by surfers as well, as its still surfable even when the trades are blowing.
How does Cloudbreak compare to most normal waves you ride?
I grew up on the east coast of the US and have done a bit of traveling, but haven't encountered many waves comparable to Cloudbreak. Maybe Main break in Margaret River West OZ, but the tropical climate and distance from the mainland seemed to create a whole new environment.
How was the big day out there, do you get a lot of nerves? It was clearly one of the biggest days there on record.
My heart was definitely racing that day. Between the size of the swell, the questionably offshore and rather light wind, and the scores of boats sitting in the channel, the risk factor was high and there was little room for error.
Let's discuss the one wave everyone's talking about. What went through your head as you realized you weren’t going to make the wave? Did it hurt getting hit by the lip?
It all seemed to happen pretty quickly, I remember making the initial drop in and how exceptionally buttery smooth it was. I did a small bottom turn and set my line. This was my fourth (and final haha) wave of the day so I was working on getting a little bit deeper each wave. This time I was a little too deep. I tried as best as I could to keep my kite in the best position forward but the lip just kept creeping up on my lines. My right steering line caught first, turning my kite down, I tried to counter but there was just so much drag in my lines through the lip that the inevitable happened. I was lifted off of my board and just remembered thinking be as stream line as possible. I was glad I wasn't wearing a board leash as my board went over the falls and I never saw it again. I am very fortunate to have made it out of that situation harm free, I relaunched my kite on the backside just like any other relaunch and that wave was the last wave of the set.
Is kitesurfing big waves a specific focus for you or was this just a right time, right place trip?
I could definitely see myself doing a bit more big wave kiting in the future, but never have specifically chased big swell. This was purely right time right place.
You ride the drifter kite, what do you like about it when riding waves?
The drifter kite has always been my go to favorite out of any surf kite I've ridden. You can focus way more on your surfing than worrying about what the kites doing.
What are your future plans for the year?
I don't have anything planned out at the moment, but will definitely be doing some traveling to some epic parts of the world!