Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy: Burrow gets twin fin win, Kuda Issey beats World Champion

Taj Burrow took out the twin fin division of the 2017 Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy on Saturday, as local talent Ismail ‘Kuda Issey’ Miglal beat former World Champion CJ Hobgood despite an eventual defeat.

On day two of the competition, Burrow was unstoppable in the pumping three-five foot clean waves on offer at Sultans as he moves closer to a spot in the overall final.

Burrow finding some shade during his super heat with Ross Wiliams. PHOTO/ TOM BENNETT

In the final, Burrow came up against form surfer Rob Machado in a thrilling match-up. After Machado knocked Burrow out in the semifinal of the single fin, Burrow had something to prove and was hungry for redemption. His early round loss in the same division last year looked like a distant memory as Burrow ripped his way to a winning two-wave combination of 16.67.

“I couldn’t believe how good the waves were today, I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be that good, we were pretty spoiled. Everyone was so fired up today, my heat with Ross was so sick, just a real see-saw then the final with Rob was just all time, I’m so worn out now,” Burrow said.

Burrow had his worst result in the twin fin division at the 2016 Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy and was keen to turn it around. Opting to surf on the same board he did last year, Burrow found a rhythm and possibly a new favourite weapon.

“Surfing in a final with Rob on a ‘twinnie’ is a pretty tough task. He is so good on these different boards and is surfing so well right now, it’s like he is still a teenager. It was super intense and I’m stoked to get one back on him. I haven’t surfed this board since last year, but I knew if I got a good one on it, that it’d go well. I loved it. It’s just so sick to be back here, the level of luxury is amazing. Rebecca and I are thinking of extending our stay at the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa. It’s just too good,” Burrow said.

Taj claimed he felt more comfortable on his twin fin than any other board and with turns like this, it’s easy to see why. PHOTO/ SEAN SCOTT

Machado was the surfer to beat in the twin fin with a solid display of surfing all day. On a board he shaped himself, he posted a heat total of 14.80 in the final but it was not enough to overcome a rampaging Burrow. With this being his second final of the event, he still leads the charge to the overall final of the event.

“When we pulled up this morning, we were freaking out,” Machado said.

“The waves were so good today, everyone was stoked. After surfing here last year I had a good idea of the twin fin I wanted to shape and I loved how it went. This wave offers a lot of different sections, so you need a versatile board. The competition today was so exciting, the semi with Taj and Ross was crazy and it got me so pumped to surf. The waves were non-stop all day; it was amazing and a real pleasant surprise.”

Rob Machado’s smooth style had a touch of aggressiveness on day two of competition in the Maldives, perfectly displayed here. PHOTO/ TOM BENNETT

Local Maldivian wildcard Kuda Issey put on an impressive display in his opening round heat to overcome 2001 WSL Champion CJ Hobgood. Kuda Issey was electric on his twin fin, even throwing a few aerial manoeuvres to move into the semifinal. In the end, he was eliminated by Machado, but was stoked to make a heat against some of his heroes.

“Making a heat at this event is like a dream for me,” Kuda Issey said.

“I never thought it would happen, but somehow I was able to find a long one at the end. It is really surreal surfing against my heroes, and to beat a world champion is amazing. I got really lucky. We are all so stoked the waves turned on today; it was pumping out there. I’m so honoured to represent the Maldives in this special event.”

Kuda Issey punting into the semi-finals on home turf. PHOTO/ SEAN SCOTT

In what was undoubtedly the heat of the event so far, eventual division winner Burrow came up against Hawaiian Ross Williams. Williams looked tack sharp on his fresh twin fin laying it on rail and gouging huge hacks, posting a heat total of 17.36. Burrow found himself on the ropes needing an 8.70. With only minutes to go, Burrow found a perfect set wave and got to work. The 19-year CT veteran put on an incredible display of his trademark whipping turns to post an excellent score to win the heat with a total of 18.10.

“I was more nervous at the beginning of the heat than the end,” Williams said.

“The fact that I had a lead in that heat at all was cool as Taj is ripping so hard. I’ve only surfed that twin fin a couple of times, so it was nice to feel it out. You really have to surf with your rail on a twin fin. Otherwise you just slide out, so it’s a major learning curve, something that makes this event super cool. It was a really good battle that heat, and that’s what you want. I’m having such an amazing time here in the Maldives. This place is incredible and the waves are sick.”

Ross Williams pushed eventual winner Taj Burrow right to the end of the semi with his trademark combination of style and power. PHOTO/ TOM BENNETT

The 2017 Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy kick started on Friday after its opening early last week. Day one saw the completion of the Single Fin division, which was taken out by Californian style guru Machado.

The Surfing Champions Trophy 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.

Returning to the annual event is Four Seasons Explorer, the Maldives’ ultimate surf vessel. Following a full interior refurbishment, the 39-metre catamaran is proudly 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.

CJ Hobgood came just short against local Kuda Issey in Round One. PHOTO/ TOM BENNETT

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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