It's back! The event known as the "world's most luxurious surf event" is back on the WSL Specialty Event calender in 2017. The Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy is unlike any event on the planet. It sees six world renowned surfers, invited to compete on single-fins, twin-fins and thrusters in the backyard of the the incredible Four Seasons resort nestled in the North Male Atolls of The Maldives.
In its seventh year running, the event has gone from strength to strength, attracting some of the biggest names in the sport and 2017 is no exception, with three of the six competitors already confirmed. This year, 2001 WSL Champion CJ Hobgood and big-wave charger Maya Gabeira will be joining 2016 event Champion and 18-year Championship Tour (CT) veteran Taj Burrow in the Maldives.
A WSL CT surfer for over a decade, Floridian CJ Hobgood is a stylish goofyfooter is best known for his grace under pressure in big, hollow, waves of consequence. Still, it's his explosive and technical agility in small waves that attributed to his success in competition at the highest level. He'll be one to watch when he unleashes his backhand on the high performance walls at Sultans in the Maldives.
"My wife and I are such huge fans of the Champions Trophy," Hobgood said. "We've always watched and dreamed of going. The event last year was one of the best I've seen, with Taj taking the win over Shane. I'm hoping to add to the excitement and ultimately have the trip of a lifetime with my wife in Four Seasons paradise."
Brazilian dynamo Maya Gabeira is one of the world's most renowned big wave surfers. The fearless goofyfooter has gained global fame for her performances at big wave spots like Dungeons in South Africa and Nazaré in Portugal as one of the few -- if any -- women on some of surfing's most terrifying days. It will be a less intense experience in the warm blue waters of the Maldives when Gabeira debuts at the Champions Trophy.
"I can't wait to surf the Maldives for my first time and enjoy a week in paradise," Gabeira said. "I am honored to compete with and watch some of my heroes surfing while sharing the lineup with them. It's going to be an incredible experience."
Apart from the accolades and prize money, perhaps the biggest benefit of winning the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy is that you get asked back to defend your title the following year. Earning a return trip in 2017 is one of surfing's most iconic personalities, Taj Burrow. Having overcome the field in 2016 and living the Four Seasons Maldives Kuda Hurra experience once before, high performance machine Burrow is understandably excited to get back to paradise.
"I had an amazing time last year," Burrow said. "I just can't wait to get back, the waves are so fun and the Four Seasons experience is incredible. It's hard to match. [My partner] Rebecca and I are so excited, it will be so much fun to get back and do it all again."
Unique in many ways, the Champions Trophy determines a surfer's heat time based on their age, and tests skill across three different divisions: single-fin, twin-fin, and triple-fin thruster. Places are granted by invitation-only to just six prominent professional surfers in a battle for inner-circle kudos. The event runs from August 7 - 13. Check back soon as we announce the final three competitors for this year's event.