US, Brazil world champions to compete in Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy

An American and a Brazilian world champion have confirmed to compete alongside defending champion Taj Burrow at the seventh annual Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy.

The Surfing Champions Trophy, which takes place from August 7 to 13, determines heat times based on age and tests skill across three divisions: single-fin, twin-fin, and thruster. Places are by invitation-only to six world champions in a battle for inner-circle kudos and a USD25,000 prize pot.

Australian aerial innovator Taj is confirmed to return to defend his title, while ‘all-conditions’ pro American CJ Hobgood, and fearless Brazilian ‘big wave’ rider Maya Gabeira will take the second and third spot.

Taj Burrow

Hailing from Busselton, Western Australia, Taj is known for his cheerful demeanour, dynamic surfing and ability to engineer all manner of moves out of a steady, aerodynamic stance. WCT Rookie of the Year in 1998 (having been the first and only surfer to turn down the pro circuit the year before saying he was “too young”), Taj ranked World Number #2 in 1999 and 2007, and has secured 12 World Tour wins during his career.

He took last year’s Surfing Champions Trophy by pipping one of his childhood heroes – big wave legend Shane Dorian – to the post during a grand finale head-to-head; an experience that he described as “like a dream come true.”

CJ Hobgood

Florida-native Hobgood first took to the waves aged five with his twin brother Damien. He won the Eastern Surfing Association Championships menehune division in 1991 when he was 10 years old, and enjoyed a good long run at the top of the national amateur ranks before turning pro and qualifying for the world championship tour in 1998.

Equally adept as a small-wave, creative aerial technician and fearless big-wave tuberider, he was rookie of the year (pro tour 1999 season, ranked 18) and ‘Breakthrough Surfer of the Year’ (Surfer Magazine Readers Poll Awards 2000, ranked seven) before his 2001 Championship season.

Maya Gabeira

Called ‘Super Woman of Big-Wave Surfing’ by the Los Angeles Times, multiple ‘Big Wave’ champion Gabeira was born and raised in Rio de Jeneiro, Brazil. A relatively latecomer to the sport, she started surfing aged 14, and moved to Hawaii aged 17 where she soon gained a reputation for taking on towering waves at infamous heavy-water breaks around the world.

In 2007, Gabeira won the Billabong XXL ‘Best Girls Performance Award’ and held the title for a record four consecutive years. In 2009, she was awarded ‘Best Female Action Sports Athlete’ by ESPY. That same year, she went down in history books by surfing the biggest wave ever by a female: 14-metre wave at Dungeons, South Africa.

Returning to the annual event is Four Seasons Explorer, the Maldives’ ultimate surf vessel. Following a full interior refurbishment, the 39-metre catamaran will proudly be showcasing sleek new finishes and stylish soft furnishings across all three decks while hosting the contest.

Fans can get up close to all of the action with onboard VIP passes, then continue the “surf tour” experience with shoulder-rubbing events back at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa — the homeport for the event’s competitors, judges and Tropicsurf partners.

To allow guests to experience the surf tour lifestyle, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa has introduced a Surf, Spa & Save Package. For a stay of minimum four nights, guests can save 15 percent on room rates and benefit from a host of added on-site extras, including:

  • One 60-minute spa treatment
  • Day passes to view the competition from Four Seasons Explorer (individual tickets to single, double, triple fin and Grand Finale)
  • VIP tour cocktails – nightly cocktail hour with the six Surfing Champions contestants throughout the week of the competition

Combining innovation, wellness and conservation, Four Seasons Resort Maldives Landaa Giraavaru is a 44-acre, 103-villa wonderland in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve — a 30-minute seaplane flight from the main Velana International Airport.

Its sister property, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa lies to the south: an enchanting garden island complete with Island Spa sea sanctuary and Tropicsurf coaches and guides. It features 96 thatched beach and water accommodations constructed by local craftsmen using indigenous materials and techniques to reflect a true sense of the Maldives.

The luxury catamaran Four Seasons Explorer connects the two properties via three, four and seven-night cruises, plus private leisure, surf and manta ray charters.

The latest addition to the Maldives collection, Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah, Baa Atoll opened in December as the group’s first exclusive-use private island: off limits to everyone else, limitless to the guests.

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