Australian native Josh Kerr claimed Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy for the second year running at Sultans on August 11.
Kerr and fellow Australian Joel Parkinson won the single fin and twin-fin divisions respectively to meet head to head at the Grand Final matchup.
Although 2012 World Champion Parkinson took off an early lead with an 8.5 and 7.27, Kerr opened with a 7.17 and then a 9.33 to overtake. The competition swung briefly in Parkinson's favour with his trademark swoops and vertical stabs up into the lip of the wave for a 9.17.
However, Kerr returned to the forefront with an explosive grab rail reverse - known as a Club Sandwich - performed on a critical opening section of the wave netting the 20001 World Airshow Champion Kerr a near perfect 9.93, winning him the event and the trophy.
“I already had a couple of good scores. So, I decided to put everything I could into my next wave and see if I couldn’t put the final nail in the coffin. It was a steep, gnarly section, as I was bottom-turning I was thinking to myself, ‘What are you doing?’ But went for it anyway. Somehow I came out of it really clean and had the biggest smile on my face for the rest of the wave, it was really cool,” said Kerr, after his win.
Parkinson commented at the presentation, " I thought I started really well, then next thing you know I was on the ropes! Kerrzy had a 9.33 and nearly a perfect 10, and even though I had a 9.17 of my own I was still chasing a combination and pretty much packed it in and headed back to the boat with four minutes to go."
Both Championship Tour veterans commented on the privilege of experiencing the beauty of Maldives, with Kerr stating, "Obviously the prize money and the trophy are cool, but getting to come back here to Four Seasons Maldives is the real reward."
"Today is my 13th wedding anniversary, lucky number 13, so that’s a great anniversary present for my wife, as well as having the kids here. I didn’t win too many events during my career, so it’s extra cool to win this in front of them.”
In the final of the thruster division, 2019 Waterman Of The Year, Hawaiian Kai Lenny, took out three-time Championship Tour event winner, Matt Wilkinson, from Australia.
"When I saw the roster for this event I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep up. But, with each round I got more confident, and come the thruster division I was definitely feeling more comfortable. I was watching the rest of the guys closely, and felt like I was improving with every wave. I’ll definitely take some confidence from this win, especially in really good waves up against a Championship Tour field,” said Lenny.
"“I was blown away by how good the single and twin-fins were, they seemed magic! We were surfing some decent sized waves and I was doubtful, but the performance level was different, and there’s something really refreshing about the lines you have to draw. Maldives is the ultimate playground, they offer every type of condition for every type of activity, and even when the surf is supposedly no good it’s still firing!”
After Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) withdrew from the event, Kerr and Wilkinson received first round walk-throughs on Sunday. In the second of the three-man round one heats, Parkinson and Kai Lenny defeated local wildcard Mohamed Fayaz, who displayed a stellar performance at the event.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Fayaz, “this week has been so fun. I always used to watch these guys on tour and in all their movies, but this is the first time I’ve got to see them in real life and it’s just been so exciting.”
The Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy was hosted aboard Four Seasons Explorer vessel. Fans had the chance to get up close to the action with onboard VIP passes whilst the ‘surf tour’ experience continued with nightly events back at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, which played host to the contest’s competitors, judges and Tropicsurf partners