After a two-year hiatus, the 10th edition of the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy concluded on 29 August with eleven-time World Champion Kelly Slater emerging as the grand winner.
Along with Slater, the stellar line-up of contestants included surfing icons such as Rob Machado, Shane Dorian, Ross Williams and Taylor Knox along with Maldives surfing champion Hussain Areef, known as Iboo, who represented the country against some of his heroes.
Iboo matched up against Slater in the semi-final at the Sultans offshore surf break.
“These guys are legends, they are the people I watched when I was learning to surf,” said Iboo. “They had a big impact on my surfing career. That last heat with Kelly was probably the best heat of my life. I never thought in my dreams that I would be surfing against him, man-on-man. He’s hard to beat, he’s the best in the world! I don’t think I’ll get to see anyone else like him in my lifetime, so this has been an amazing opportunity.”
Slater advanced to the final round to compete against fellow American Machado, where he scored the highest wave score of the event in the Thruster Division Final.
“This whole event has been so fun, it’s been really relaxed with the guys,” said Slater. “To have this crew together has been really enjoyable, and Iboo has been a great addition. I’ve never met him before, but he’s had a smile on his face the whole time – it was so nice to get to know him and surf with him. He said he was really stoked to surf a heat with me today, and I was really happy to surf with him too. He’s just a really good dude.”
“All of the local crew that showed up on the boats seemed like they were having a great time, too – they were hundreds of yards from us, but we could hear them yelling the whole time. There has been such a good vibe here.”
In the Grand Final, Slater came up against Shane Dorian, the other super with the highest accumulated points total. Dorian, who won two out of three heats against Slater earlier in the event, scored a strong 8.7 but Slater won the Grand Final with high scores of an 8.23 and an 8.73.
“The Final was really fun,” said Slater.
“Shane has been the really in-sync guy with the waves throughout this event, but in the Final I kind of took that from him. I think he caught one of the best waves of the heat (8.7) but the wave came too late, and there were only a few minutes left when he got back out to the lineup. We’re even now though, it worked out perfectly.”
Slater, Machado, Dorian, Williams and Knox are part of a celebrated crew in surfing history whose story was told in the feature-length HBO film The Momentum Generation. Known as one of the most iconic power surfers of all time, Knox was the winner of the Surfing Champions Trophy (SCT) in 2013 and runner-up in 2014.