A Month in the Maldives....Part 1
We scored.. not once but everyday. Not only did we have "that Swell" that slammed Indo, broke a boat at Nias and turned Uluwatu into a big wave tow spot. We also had another swell, just as big but not as documented that hit a week before. (The shot to the right is Jails from the first 4ft at 10 secs swell). For an entire month, the swell didn't dip below head high and maxed out at triple over head. Maldives turned into Indonesia for a month, whilst Indonesia turned into some big wave chargers nightmares. Anyway, back to July in the Maldives.
This year I had two back to back boat trips on super high quality boats. The first trip was with a group of Dad's all in there 50's celebrating their birthdays or their Son's birthdays in the Tropics. This was a dream come true for me. To teach the young new habits and the old how to break years of bad habits. Was a real test but also an absolute honour. This really was a holiday of a lifetime. Quite possibly the last "family holiday" for some. Many of the guests were previous clients, friends or I'd coached their lads along the way. I knew how much this all meant to them. It had to be bang on. No pressure then!
I had to pull in the best I could find but still make it good value. So I found an awesome boat which is more like a floating hotel than a 110ft 4 decked beast.
I also pulled in the extremely talented Staffan as a photographer to document the whole trip. Needless to say that all these images are his work. This took the pressure off whilst I was busy hosting, guiding, water saftey and more importantly coaching. Also allowed me to have a bit of a surf and actually get the odd shot!
Two of the boys, Byron Stolte, (14) and Jay Clayton, (17) were on their way to both the Euro's and the Worlds. so getting their power game up to speed was the priority. Also confidence, and commitment were also high up the list. The big brothers were there to keep these up and coming junior's in check and also to push them. Not that they needed pushing.
The other junior was Jevan, a keen, 14 year old Welsh surfer. Despite being the least experienced (4 years of surfing), it was Jevan that made the biggest improvement over the 10 days. The final few days at a solid Jails, I witnessed Jevan paddle and catch one of the bigger sets of the day. We were all surprised and stoked that this 14 year old hooked into and committed to one of the biggest bombs of the trip! Totally un-phased, as if it was a tiddler from back home.
Then there were the adults. 2 lads in their early 20's and the next youngest at 50 and the oldest..er ha... a bit older. Despite some of the heaviest conditions I've witnessed in the Maldives. All of them got stuck in.
Dr Paul, Jevan's Dad, unfortunately managed to tear his MCL a few weeks before the trip. Armed with 3 knee braces, pain killers and a lifetime of medical knowledge. He managed to surf everyday in both big and small. You'd have never of guessed he had to hold back to prevent breaking things further. Some of the tips we were talking about couldn't be put into practice but look forward to hearing how he's got on with them when in better health. He came back with a ton of memories, chuffed to bits to see Jevan surfing on another level, plus the funkiest sun tan marks, too.
Jason, Jake and Byrons Dad, was on a high performance longboard. Having been used to surfing most of his time in Jersey, Jason had a baptism of fire for his first Maldives experience. He had to tackle some waves which made his longboard scream "Are you trying to kill me?" Jason did try to kill his longboard in a rather shallow inside Jails barrel section on the biggest day. His board was unscathed. But he came out looking like he had a wedgey from Wolverine. Ripping his shorts up nicely and getting a few bruises. Despite his little dice with death, he calmly hoped into the channel for a breather. He was straight back out there on his 9'1 Skindog, hunting. These punchy swells were far from ideal to be on a log. Despite this, Jason paddled out in some mental conditions and really found his rhythm in the last few days. Nothing better than having your 2 boys cheering from in the channel as your going hell for leather on a couple of fast, long ones.
Steve, who was an ex professional goal keeper, and now scientist, was a pleasure to have on-board. Not only did he help rip into Englands World cup performance. (Yep we managed to tune in from in the middle of the ocean). He also ripped into a few waves on this trip. Being the only Goofy footer in the land of rights and private lefts (boo to privatizing waves). He was stoked when the group took on Honkies and Chickens. I remember Steve telling me he hated riding hollow waves on his backhand. Well, he left a changed man, totally in love with them after being told how to open his hips, stance and therefore rotation. This all starts from your hands on take off and then creates a chain reaction throughout your ride. Fair to say he nailed the technique.
The Big Brothers were also on the trip. 2 Solid power houses. With Jake Stolte aka The Beast and Fin Clayton, 6'3 of pure style and power. Both were hankering for the bigger or hollower sections. They also had the job of keeping their younger brother in check. The odd drop in, a quick MMA move on the boat or just general verbal smack downs all aimed at their younger brothers.
Jake, on a brand new Gamma (thanks boardshop for going the extra mile on that one) had his surfing smoothed out to become tons more efficient. With his new found speed, he started laying in some massive hacks. Despite Jails inside section getting a bit dry, he smashed an end section to bits. Right in front of me as if to say "Like this coach?" Yep, just like that Jake.
Fin, was the wave catching machine, he literally caught everything. Some of the best waves that broke on the trip, Fin was there. He was like Neptunes Son. Fin, an already talented surfer, was set the task of increasing his power through out his repertoire. This wasn't an easy goal as it meant eradicating the lightness needed in his turns for weak, Jersey surf. Breaking the habit of lifting the arms above the head to just keeping them inline with his shoulders gave the extra weight he could get away with in more powerful surf. Again, once this clicked and became habit, a switch was flicked and the spray from his turns began to show.
Finally, Frankie, the Dad of Fin and Jay. Frankie was the Hellman on the trip. With his signature Red Rashy, Frankie was the deepest on every wave, every day. When Jailbreaks was at it's biggest, Frankie was the way out, heading deep into what was a totally different lineup.
As they say "If you wanna dance, then you have to pay the DJ"
Frankie definitely paid on a few, but also danced like a m*thaf*****!
This trip was absolutely amazing. Great friends, great waves, and amazing vibes. We had an excellent local crew on our boat with 3 locals as the respective captains. Captain Jawad, proved to be invaluable. He was in overall charge of the charter. He was our barman, guide to local knowledge and also a ridiculously good fisherman. Typically, the day after I bought a 25kg Tuna. Jawad went out on his own one morning and caught a whopping 21kg Wahoo (Kingfish) on a handline. The tuna had been the best fish I've ever had, until the free Wahoo from Jawad.
The Boats Captain, Sobaa, was actually the captain of a boat I used in the very first years. Was a pleasure to see him again after so many years, we had a laugh, talked story and caught up.
Then there was the Dhoney Captain, Kalla. He would sit and watch us all day. Trying to get both Staffan and myself as close as possible to film and photograph. I gave him a set of polarized Oakley's which he was super stoked on. So keep an eye out for a blinged up Dhoney captain with the best shades in the business.
The crew on the boat were brilliant. Safety was paramount as we had some pretty solid storms overnight, and Jawad didn't take any chances. Can't thank the crew enough. Everything was bang on and can't wait to run more trips for next year.
This trip was really something else, and want to thank everyone involved. I'm gagging to get back out there, and can't wait for the Central Atolls trip on September 6th.
After such a great trip, I'd normally be packing my bags too and heading back to the airport with the guests. However, this year I had another trip and another group, on a totally different boat. Little did I know that the equivalent of the Hercules storm but in the Indian Ocean was starting to take shape. With the next guests already on Himmafushi island, it was time for me to be dropped off and to start creating part 2 of this epic month.