Fortune Cookie Predicts Possible Hobgood Win
2017 FOUR SEASONS MALDIVES SURFING CHAMPIONS TROPHY | EVENT PARTNER
Story by Hugh Wyllie
That big blue Indian Ocean Jacuzzi is a place where the warm water bubbles along a tiny chain of islands. They call them The Maldives. Ross Williams, Taj Burrow, Rob Machado, CJ Hobgood, Maya Gabeira and local Ismail Miglal have arrived from across many seas.
Ross Williams and Rob Machado sat at the end of the wharf caressing boards handshaped by Rob himself. Ismail Miglal threw a shakka, Maya Gabeira strode gingerly up the wharf. But when I shook hands with CJ Hobgood, everything hit home. I’m on a tropical island with a collection of the world’s best surfers. Heroes amongst men and women of surf.
The event boat is no less than a floating hotel and my home for the next week. Out the porthole window, I spot Ismail fly down the line like a smeared stick of butter. A magic little 5’2 Terry Fitzgerald twinny his choice of slay for the day, it was shaped especially for Sultans he tells me in the lineup. Sultans is ours for the week.
The wave today sits at two foot with a cross-shore breeze and it is creamy. Thick warm air at 100% humidity and a tepid 30 degrees in the water. We’re right on the equator.
Ross Williams is totally blissed out. He has journeyed miles away from pending Tahitian stratagems for his Pacific pupil John John Florence for this event. Under his feet lies a handcrafted Apia twinny.
I slip off my sled and return to shore as Contest Director Zippy calls a lay day. Everyone’s jets are pumped for a swell inbound for Friday.
Back on the island, the Four Season staff delicately torch up the tikis that set the twilight ablaze. The opening ceremony welcomes the riders, guests and fans to the luxurious island resort. Locals perform their welcoming dance (a type of Macarena jive), while the poolside DJ spins Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster”.
The sun has gone and a superior sashimi dinner is laid out. CJ is busy explaining how the wind blew his door shut locking him out of his bungalow totally starkers, and how he almost jumped the wall in his birthday suit for want of a room key or a new set of pants.
The fortune cookies arrive. Ross Williams cracks his open; “Smile, tomorrow is another day,” it tells him. Taj reckons it’s a misfortune cookie. A classic Taj roast, but the great thing about Ross is he just rolls with it as smoothly on land as he does in the water, and no cheeky cookie is gonna change that, so everyone laughs. I read mine, it tells me I should try acting. “Does that mean I passed the audition?” I wonder.
The premonition of the evening comes from CJ Hobgood’s cookie – “You will be showered with success.” Does this cookie know something we don’t about the next week? Only time will tell who cops the spray of success in the Maldives and the huge winners loot.
* 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 world champions in a battle for inner-circle kudos and the US$25,000 prize winnings.
The Surfing Champions Trophy is hosted onboard Four Seasons Explorer – the Maldives’ ultimate surf vessel. Fans can get up close to the action with onboard VIP passes, while the ‘surf tour’ experience continues with shoulder-rubbing events back at Four Seasons Kuda Huraa, which plays host to the contest’s competitors, judges and Tropicsurf partners (the pros behind the Resort’s surf operation.)
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