Local surfers will compete alongside six big international names during the Maldives Domestic Champions Trophy, to be hosted by the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa Resort from August 27 to September 2.
Last year’s title was won by veteran Australian surfer Mark ‘Occy’ Occhilupo, who will this year seek to defend his title from 1989 world champion Martin Potter, three times world champion Tom Curren, 2007 longboard world champion Phil Rajzman, two times world champion Damien Hardman and 2005 female world champion Chelsea Hedges.
The Maldivian Surfing Association (MSA) will meanwhile host a surfing competition to select local champions, who will then compete under the same world-class standards as the world champions with equal commentary, computer scoring and judging criteria.
The surfers will compete in four-man event heats to qualify for the final – a MVR 25,000 (US$1620) showdown for the title of Four Seasons Maldives Domestic Champions Trophy 2012.
Mark Winson, general manager of Tropicsurf – the event’s organiser – noted that “some of the best surfers in the lineup are locals, that’s for sure. Unlike other country’s surf scenes where the surfing community is very concentrated, here world class waves are scattered all across the country.”
“Some of the best surfers live a long way from Male’ and rarely get to see athletes like the six world champs featured this year. It will be great to see 20 of the country’s best surfers congregate at Thamburudhoo on the 27th for the MSA trials, eight of whom will surf in the Domestic Champions Trophy alongside the world champions.”
Tropicsurf’s Founder and Director, Ross Phillips, “was among the first to pioneer surfing in remote parts of the Maldives over 15 years ago with a dream of a locally driven sustainable surf movement in the country,” Winson noted.
“These days the MSA has grown and matured into a vibrant surfing association committed to developing the sport of surfing in the Maldives. We see the Domestic Champions Trophy as an opportunity not only for competition, but also to share some administrative components of event management with the MSA committee,” he said.
Intrepid surfers from around the world have become one of the core markets driving mid-market guest house tourism across the Maldives, and the country is becoming increasingly well known as an ‘undiscovered’ surfing destination – at least compared to famous beaches in places such as Hawaii, Indonesia, and Australia.
“The Maldives’ warm water, perfect waves and friendly people make it the ultimate destination for the travelling surfer,” observed Winson, asked to describe the country’s appeal.
“The Maldives is a surfer’s paradise, but a family paradise too. Non-surfers are catered to in every fashion imaginable and there is an accommodation option for everyone, ranging from luxury resorts such as Kuda Huraa to three star surf camps for the budget traveller. The waves are plentiful and varied to suit a wide range of abilities and craft. Here you’ll find your surfing nirvana!”
Winson added that the competition would showcase both the Maldives “and its world-class waves” – last year’s event was widely publicised in international surf media, due in large part to the participation of Occhilupo, Hardman, world longboard champion Josh Constable, four-time world champion Mark Richards, two-time world champion Nat Young, and seven-times female world champion Layne Beachley.
Occhilupo only narrowly defeated Beachley in the single fin division, after Beachley knocked out Hardman in the semi-final, and Occy defeated Constable.
Despite the camaraderie between the champions and the affable atmosphere aboard the nearby Four Seasons Explorer Catamaran, there was, Beachley told Minivan News, a very strong competitive undercurrent.
“When you’re surrounded by world champions there is a mutual respect because we know what it takes, but when we’re paddling out no one’s there to lose,” she said.
“It’s very competitive. No guy wants to lose to a girl. The boys are amped. Their pumped up, even if they’re pretending to play it down.”
The Four Seasons Maldives Domestic Champions Trophy will take place at Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa from August 27 to September 2, 2012, Four Seasons Maldives Domestic Champions Trophy will be held at Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa from August 27 to September 2, 2012, alongside the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy.