Big wave legend Shane Dorian (HAW) posted a near-perfect heat total of 19.60 (out of a possible 20) in the Final of the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy Thruster Division, securing himself the victory.
Sultan's Point turned on and the two traded barrels for what was without a doubt, the heat of the contest. Dorian's opponent in the Final, Neco Padaratz (BRA), posted three excellent scores but was unable to escape the combination situation Dorian had put him in.
"The conditions were just magic," said Dorian. "That Maldivian water clarity, the sun shining, and perfect offshore. When that first one came it was such a perfect shape but I thought it might run a little fast so I had to race straight away. Then I pulled in and it ended up going the perfect speed, it was a blast. The wave is so rippable and user-friendly."
Padaratz was a clear standout in and out of the water. At 38, his skills and competitive drive have certainly not left him.
"Everything was so perfect for that heat," Padaratz said. "The water and colors, especially the waves. I have surfed here before and knew you can get barrels at the end, but today it was going all the way through from start to finish, just awesome."
"This event has been so amazing," he continued. "It feels good to know I can still perform with these guys. Shane and I were just trading waves and laughing sitting out there."
Dorian now moves through to the grand finale of the Champions Trophy, where he will meet last year's winner Dave Rastovich (AUS).
"Surfing against Rasta should be fun," Dorian said. "He's really cruisey and mellow and goes with the flow but as soon as a heat starts he's all action. He's actually a bit of a contest machine. It's always such a good vibe in the water with Rasta so I can't wait."
The heat between Dorian and Rastovich will be a rematch of the Maldives Semifinals when Dorian's 17.90 got him through by 0.70 of a point.
In another close Semifinal, Harley Ingleby (AUS), needing a 7.50, took off on one of the last set waves of the heat, but it only offered one critical section and Ingleby had to settle for a 6.77 and an equal third place.
"I could see a good sized set and let the first one go," said Ingleby. "I didn't think there would be four waves in the set so I took the third wave, but it only had one good section and then raced away."
Brad Gerlach (USA) was knocked out in the opening round. Posting a 9.00 early in his heat, 'Gerr' was unable to find the eight-point range backup he needed to overtake the lead.
"It's a bit of a shame my seeding didn't really help too much," said Gerlach, who was competing as a replacement for Tom Curren. "But I mean, the waves are super fun, it's super shredable. I suppose that's the most frustrating thing, I don't get to go back out."
Despite an amazing display of stylish rail surfing, 2004 WSL Women's World Champion SofÃa Mulánovich (PER) was not able to progress.
"This was my first time competing against guys," Mulánovich said. "It's been such an amazing experience getting to surf against my idols, in these waves and in paradise."
Dorian and Rastovich will take to the water on their own choice of craft to vie for the trophy.
For more information visit: surfingchampionstrophy.com
Final: Shane Dorian (HAW) 19.60 Neco Padaratz (BRA) 17.93
Semifinals: SF1: Neco Padaratz (BRA) 16.17 Harley Ingleby (AUS) 15.44 | SF2: Shane Dorian (HAW) 17.90 Dave Rastovich (AUS) 17.20
Opening Round: Heat 1: Harley Ingleby (AUS) 17.30 Dave Rastovich (AUS) 17.30 Brad Gerlach (USA) 16.63 | Heat 2: Shane Dorian (HAW) 18.43 Neco Padaratz (BRA) 16.67 SofÃa Mulánovich (PER) 16.67
Shane Dorian (HAW) 2800pts
Dave Rastovich (AUS) 2700pts
Neco Padaratz (BRA) 2600pts
Harley Ingleby (AUS) 2300pts
Brad Gerlach (USA) 2200pts
SofÃa Mulánovich (PER) 2100pts