Showers Predicted Followed By Hot Towel

That big Indian Ocean jacuzzi is home to a tiny island chain known as the Maldives. It’s this hot tub utopia popping with sun, with wind, with waves and sea life where we find ourselves, awaiting surfing’s most luxurious surf comp. Like any good soak in the tub, the trick here is to slink in slow. Of course some people prefer to swan-dive headfirst into the polyps, and who can blame them? Wherever you turn, the sirens are calling, the kind of warm water visions you’d see on a postcard, postage stamp or dripped wax like what’s melting into the deck of a dumb Sydney kid’s surfboard right now. But it’s that first dip of the big toe, where all the magic happens. Steam fills the air with sweet aroma. Candles spark. Corals bloom. Starfish sing, seagulls purr and grown men dance the Macarena… while 6 pairs of fluffy slippers await 6 of my favourite surfers on the planet! Right about now, the invitees are busy stuffing their bags with designer labels… with Pyzels, Aipas, MR’s and Mayhems. Ample quivers, for the most lux spa bath in surfing: The Four Seasons Maldives Champions Trophy!

Flat day gass. (Social Habitat)
Rob Machado’s happy place. (Social Habitat)

It hit me the moment I spotted Taj Burrow’s cheeky chops from across the breakfast table. It hit me again as I necked my third helping of poached eggs with a side of waffles, then washed it down with a mango lassie, followed by a skim latte. It hit once more as Ross Williams and Rob Machado examined their two brand new singleys, handshaped by Rob himself. (A shrewd tactic, perhaps?). And again when Ismail Miglal threw a shakka in my direction. And when Maya Gabeira strode up the wharf. But it was when I saw CJ Hobgood strap up a pair of jet ski pumped hoverboots and gas through the sky like Tony Stark, that it really hit home for me… because this place is the sickest!!! My only question, was where’s Kimbo? My bearded counterpart? The big boss? The SW spiritual leader? Where on earth was The Slice? I’d find him later with his wife Daisy, in a poolside cabana. A serene specimen of panama hat, Aloha shirt and dark shades. The classic vacation getup. The Slice was here alright, and the hot tub was set to fizz.

Ross and Rob. Block of soap not pictured. (Sean Scott)
Maya Gabeira sets the line. (Sean Scott)

But before lapping up the fizzy water, there was surf. Off the boat – a floating hotel, and our quarters for the next week – I spot Ismail slide down the line on a stick of butter. A wild little 5’2’’ Terry Fitzgerald twinny, shaped for Sultans. This is the wave that will play host to the contest, and at 2 foot cross-shore, it’s so creamy you could whip up a lather to go with your cucumber slices and mud masks. Ross Williams is blissed out, exfoliating faces on a handcrafted Apia twinny, miles away from pending stratagems for JJF. I slip off my sled like I trod on a bar of Palmolive and return to shore. The tub may be hot, but not hot enough to bring the heat. Not singleys, nor twinnies, nor thrusters shall compete today. Ross, our man with the local knowledge from Tropic Surf, calls a lay day, with everyone pumped for the next run of swell!

Guest house bliss outs. (Sean Scott)

Back on the island, the opening ceremony welcomes the riders, guests and fans to the Four Seasons resort on Kuda Huraa, as the island’s locals perform their traditional jive under a blaze of tiki torches, while the poolside DJ spins Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster”. There are bite-sized niblets, followed by knuckles, morsels and fist sized portions, ‘til finally a giant tuna fish is carved into an elegant feast for all to enjoy. It recalled the song of “beverages, and succulent juices,” but really, “Master Blaster” was the tune that got shoulders boppin’ at the buffet. It was a shimmy buffet of a time, said nobody. I shovel my face while CJ is busy explaining to Teebs, Ross and Rob how the wind blew his door shut, locking him out of his bungalow totally starkers, and how he almost jumped his fence in the nuddy in search of some pants. The sashimi dinner is epic, and we down the rest with vino just as the fortune cookies arrive. Ross Williams cracks his open. “Smile, tomorrow is another day,” it tells him. Taj reckons it’s a misfortune cookie. A classic Taj roast, but Ross remains unflappable – as composed on land as he is in the water – and no cheeky cookie is gonna change that. Everyone laughs. I read mine, it tells me I should try acting. “Does that mean I passed the audition?” I wonder… Daisy and Kim’s foretells a future in music, but the best fortune of all goes to Tony Starkers himself, Mr. CJ Hobgood. He opens the cookie, to read “You will be showered with success.” A big call from this crummy oracle! So it seems a faucet has cranked in Ceejays direction, but only time will tell who cops the spray and the US $25,000 prizemoney and bragging rights of king, or queen of the bubble bath.

Hugh Wyllie