Beneath the Surface at the Maldives Surfing Competition
A defending champion and a first-time competitor talk strategy, sportsmanship and the waves they’ve conquered around the world.
One of the world’s most elite surfing events is back for its third year. From August 26 to September 2, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa will host the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy, where professional surfers, including six former world champions, will compete for a grand prize of USD 25,000. This year’s competition will see the return of defending champion Damien Hardman and welcome new invitee Pedro Henrique. Preparing to “rip it up,” both contestants spoke with Four Seasons Magazine about surfing, travel and the exclusive event.
The veteran: Defending champion Damien Hardman
Two-time world champion and Australian native Damien Hardman first began surfing as a way to spend time with his friends. Growing up, Hardman lived only one block away from the beach in Narrabeen, a beachside suburb in northern Sydney. Secluded and undisturbed, Narrabeen’s waters were an ideal training ground for the budding surfer. Though some of his early surfing companions eventually moved onto other sports, Hardman continued to ride the waves. “When I was younger, most kids played football in winter and surfed in the summer,” he says. “I was too small for football, so I stuck to surfing.”
A hardcore competitor, Hardman is known for the consistently cool demeanour that earned him the nickname “the Iceman.” “I am a pretty patient, calculated competitor who can assess a situation and usually find a way to win,” says Hardman. His fierce competitive strategy has paid off: Hardman has won two world titles (1987 and 1991) and earned a spot in the Australian Hall of Fame in 1999.
While attendees of this year’s competition can be sure that the Iceman will live up to his name, Hardman says he’s most looking forward to returning to the Maldives simply to surf some great waves in excellent company. “I love competing against surfers from my generation. While we still have the same desire to beat each other, the atmosphere in the water is a little more relaxed,” he says. He also looks forward to competing against those he’s surfed alongside in the past. “It’s all about showcasing great surfers in great waves,” says Hardman.
The first-time challenger: Pedro Henrique
It’s the company of surf legends that makes the event so special for Brazilian surfer Pedro Henrique, anticipating his first contest in the Maldives. “I am really excited to compete with the big names of the sport,” he says. “It will be a great honour to surf with them, and I know I will learn a lot.”
Trained by his father, Henrique began surfing at the age of six. His first great success came in 2000 when, at 18, he won the World Junior Championship. In 2006 he began competing professionally with the ASP World Championship Tour.
As touring surfers, both Henrique and Hardman have had the opportunity to travel around the world for their sport, experiencing destinations that they would not have otherwise. Henrique says that travelling has helped him hone his technique and skills through exposure to diverse surfing conditions: “Competing was my motivation to travel—and to get better in different waves.” His favourite place so far? Tahiti. After this year’s competition? The Maldives, perhaps.
See Hardman and Henrique in action this year with the Resort’s all-inclusive five- or seven-night Group Surf & Stay 2013 Package. Included are day passes to the event; you can witness all the action from aboard the luxurious Four Seasons Explorer. You’ll also get to shred some waves yourself, with five or seven days of intense surfing lessons by expert guides from Tropicsurf, the luxury surf pioneers behind the event. Back at the Resort, you’ll share a complimentary cocktail with your favourite surfing contestants. Be sure to ask Hardman about his signature move: backside bottom and top turn. “The Sultans break in the Maldives is the perfect wave for this move,” he says.