With Just a few weeks until the 2018 Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy specialty event kicks off, momentum is building with the announcement of the final invitees for the contest known as the world's most luxurious surf event.
Irons, a former WSL Championship Tour (CT) star, needs little introduction in the surfing world. Renowned for his technical brilliance in the tube, ability to land massive aerial maneuvers and overall style, he's is one of the most iconic surfers of his generation. After retiring from competitive surfing in his late 20s, he's spent the last decade traveling the world hunting for perfect waves in the most idyllic locations. With a thirst for reef breaks and competitive tenacity, Irons is sure to be one of the most exciting names added to the Champions Trophy competitors list in its eight-year history.
"I so pumped to be invited to this event," Irons said. "The Maldives is such a fun place to go surfing with the awesome waves, picturesque Islands and clear warm water, it's a surfing paradise. I've seen and heard things about the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy in the past and it sounds like the sickest event. I can't wait to get over there and surf the different boards in those waves -- It's going to be amazing."
Other former CT surfers who will be competing include Josh Kerr, Freddy Patacchia Jr. and Alejo Muniz, who burst onto the elite CT as a teenager and wowed the tour with his lightning fast brand of surfing. Muniz will be taking a short break from requalifying to rip into the walls of Sultans with some of his idols.
"I'm so stoked and honored to get the invite to the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy," Muniz said. "It is a really cool event and such a great concept and the fact there is some of surfing's biggest names coming is so incredible. I've followed it over the years and am ready to go and put on my best performance possible. I will be traveling to the event with my son and wife and having them along to experience this luxury will make it all the more enjoyable."
With multiple Maldivian Surfing Championships to his name, along with a string of WSL Qualifying Series event appearances, the 2018 Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy event wildcard has gone to Abdulla "Fuku" Areef. With a lightning-fast backhand and superior knowledge of the waves in the area, Areef will be one to watch when he takes on his heroes this August at Sultans.
"I'm so excited to be invited to this event," Areef said. "I'd like to thank The Four Seasons Maldives and Tropicsurf for this incredible opportunity. Surfing against some of my heroes will be such a great experience and especially on all of the different equipment. I can't wait."
With the unfortunate withdrawal of the two-time reigning event winner Taj Burrow due to a knee injury, the door has been opened for 2001 WSL Champion C.J. Hobgood to return in 2018. Hailing from Florida, Hobgood's performances in big, barreling waves are what earned him global fame, but it's his stylish backhand that will make him a favorite at Sultans when competition gets underway this August. C.J. was a standout at the Champions Trophy last year, only just being edged out by eventual winner Burrow so was understandably stoked when he got the call up again in 2018.
"I honestly can't believe we are going back," he said. "It's the best trip me and my wife have ever had and we've traveled a bit. Thank you Taj -- get better, and hope they get you an injury wildcard next year. I tried so hard to win last year but Taj was to good and smashed me in that final last year. I still vividly remember those couple waves that came in. They were perfect in that heat."
Surfing superstar Alana Blanchard has withdrawn from the 2018 Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy to focus on her new son, Banks. The Four Seasons event organizers hope to welcome her back next year.
The Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy event window is August 8 - 14.