Maldives surfing recieves rave reviews

Monday, 15 June 2009 20:40

“For now, I’m not looking forward to having world champions in the Maldives...just more surfers,” says Nahshid Nasir (Nahu), 28, who started surfing 17 years ago on a plank of wood. “People used to be closed to surfing. But now they are open.” Nahu says that while surfing began in the Maldives 30 years ago, real surfboards have only become widely used in the past twelve years or so. He grew up surfing in North Male’, the one spot where there is no sea wall blocking out surf-worthy waves.

Nahu, also member of the Maldives Surf Association, explains how the growth of surfing in the Maldives now allows people to make a living off out of it. He uses himself, as well as Hussain Areef (Ibu), the Maldivian surfer who earned public affection after taking first place at an invitational surfing competition in Sri Lanka last year, as examples of people who are making a living out of the activity. Nahu works as a surf judge, guide, and coach. He says that boys, and a few girls, across various atolls, anywhere between the ages of 13 to 50, have started surfing for leisure as equipment becomes more widespread.

During the championship round of the 10th annual Association of Surfing Professionals World Qualifying Series (WQS) earlier today, Nahu watched from a glass balcony overlooking Pasta Point at Chaaya Island Dhonveli resort. Many say that this is the best surfing spot in the Maldives, not to mention one of the best surfing spots in the world. Nahu was observing alongside other judges, who were enjoying the last day of the week-long event. The competition was rated at six star prime, the highest possible ranking for quality of waves at a surfing competition.

Greatest final
At what many ASP officials deemed as the greatest final round they had ever witnessed, 19-year old Australian Owen Wright came in first place, followed by Patrick Gudauskas, a 23-year old surfer from the United States. Wright said it was the “best final” he had ever been in; his thoughts were echoed by ASP world tour head judge Perry Hatchet, who said that out of the hundreds of finals he had watched, this one placed in the top five.

Even before the memories created in the final round today, the competition had already earned a spot in surfing history. Two days ago, Gudauskas completed the first ever rodeo clown manoeuvre (a 540 degree summersault with a surfboard) in a competition. This past week set a strong precedence in professional surfing culture.

Out of 150 of the world’s best male surfers, 128 participated in last week’s competition, representing 20 nations. Countries that came first were the USA, Australia, and Brazil.
The Maldives has hosted this event for the past decade. According to Steve Robertson, Media Director of ASP, and part of the group who first established the series, the competition was held on Lohifushi Island Resort for the first five years before being moved to Pasta Point because of the better quality of waves.

Catching a wave: surfing at Pasta Point Wild card slots were granted to four Maldivian surfers, including Ibu, in this year’s competition, and although none got past the first round, Nahu says that each contender improved from the previous year. Read more

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