Josh Kerr Wins The Most Eclectic Event On The WSL's Schedule
Freddy Patacchia takes out the thruster division but Kerrzy takes the overall win with a 10-point ride in the final of the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy.
Let's be honest, no one but Josh Kerr was going to take this event out.
For starters, he'd already banked the single and twin-fin division wins in the days prior, but aside from that, he's spent his post-tour time riding an eclectic range of craft suited to this event's multi-board format.
But before we dive into the final, let's talk about the thruster division and Freddy P's win.
Finals day at Sultans was pumping, just take it from local wildcard, Abdulla 'Fuku' Areef, "We got so lucky with the waves as well and the best was definitely on finals day. It was pumping."
But it wasn't simply lucky timing, Ross Phillips, the contest director and Tropicsurf Founder ensured they copped the best conditions. No one knows that wave better than him, and his ability to navigate heats around shifting tides, winds and swells was irreproachable. He knew when it was going to be firing, and made sure that's when the the boys were in the water.
He'd surf at 6am every morning before the 8am breakfast call, and knew the precise time conditions would align for whatever equipment the surfers were riding that day. He dialled the single-fins for softer, drawn out walls, and made sure the finals and thruster division centred around the biggest swell bang on low tide.
There was no need to re-check the conditions, if Ross said it would be pumping at 2:30pm (like he did on the first day), it would be – like clockwork I tell ya!
With four foot of groomed swell, Freddy P put on a backside tube-riding clinic. Yeah, he threw down a few backside jams too, but no one, not even a red-hot Kerrzy or faultlessly consistent Alejo Muniz was sliding past Freddy in the thruster final.
“It’s really funny because when I arrived here I thought I wouldn’t be taking it too seriously but as soon as you put on the contest jersey, the fire is lit,” Freddy said afterwards, "My thruster definitely felt like my best board so I put some more time into focusing today... It’s definitely the most fun I have had in a WSL jersey.”
Unfortunately, a win in the thruster division wasn't enough to see Freddy through into the final showdown. Kerrzy had won two divisions, and Alejo Muniz had come runner-up twice, leaving the pair to face off once more in the overall final to determine the event winner.
In short, It was a fucking tube-fest.
The gents had already proven their on-face and aerial capacity earlier in the event, so there was no better way to determine the winner than by trading tub for tub in between a couple off forehand jams.
Kerrzy kicked things off early with an array of carves and jabs to nab himself a 9-point ride, but Alejo wasn't going to let Kerrzy's early lead dampen his hopes of a win.
Alejo relentlessly laid down a repertoire of turns and tube combinations, and as if the heat was a predetermined play, it came down to the final minutes.
From the boat, we watched a hardly recognisable surfer paddle, chip into the longest tube of the event, and push through the clamping section at the end to claim a 10-point ride.
Even Scotty, the velvet-tongued host and commentator, was unsure who was on the wave as they slid through the incessant sections; but as a they kicked out onto the shoulder, there was no mistaking it was Josh Kerr. And with that, Kerrzy took out the Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy – the most eclectic quivered and diverse surfing event we've got.
"The waves just got better every day up until now where they are totally pumping - I never thought I’d get so barrelled here in the Maldives." Josh said after the win, "The concept of this event is really cool, I like surfing different boards these days so I guess this is the perfect event for me – I’m stoked to be coming back next year but probably not as much as my family, they love it here.”
And Kerrzy's family weren't the only ones loving it. Every surfer and spectator lucky enough to be on board the Four Seasons Explorer was stoked. I mean, who would complain about being showered in free refreshments and a seemingly never-ending supply of food?
Put simply, it's the most luxurious surfing event in the world, and probably one of the most exciting there is to watch. The waves are pumping, the surfing's far from sterile, and while there's still an aura of some surfers' competitive natures, it's a far cry from the typical vibe of a WSL CT or QS event.
In all seriousness, it's a damn shame there's only one of these events a year, and even sadder there's no stream for the rest of us to feed upon. Imagine it: a four stopped tour of ex-CT surfers going ham on singles, twins and thrusters at the most accommodating spots on Earth. Cut the prize purse surfers would be fighting for the chance to have a crack at surfing in this thing.
Competitive surfing is constantly berated for being stagnant and boring, so maybe this broad-board-spectrum format is the antidote we need. In saying that, we're just happy to have at least one event like this. It might not receive the glamorous coverage of your standard CT, but it's a special part of the funny world that is competitive surfing.
Oh, speaking of fights, there's sure to be mutiny at Stab HQ if we're offered the opportunity to jump on board the Four Seasons again next year.
Thruster Division Results
1. Freddy Patacchia Jnr (HAW)
2. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
3. Josh Kerr (AUS) with Abdulla Fuku Areef (MDV)
5. C.J. Hobgood (USA)
2018 FS Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy Leaderboard
Josh Kerr (AUS) 2800pts
Alejo Muniz (BRA) 2700pts
Freddy Patacchia Jnr (HAW) 2600pts
C.J. Hobgood (USA) 2400pts
Abdulla ‘Fuku’ Areef (MDV) 2400pts