May 28, 2008

Surf trip to the Central Atolls, April 2008

Last 3 years, April had been pretty dry and sunny but 2008, probably plagued by La Nina weather system, has not been usual for the first Central atolls trips of the season. Because April is still diving and high tourist season, boats are pretty busy. Which means less surfers around ! Indeed, we did not encounter any other safari boats in the 13 days out there (not even seaplanes). However, 2 locals showed up quickly for an hour at Hadigilla (a premiere) and Mikado was also flocked on Friday by a handful of locals coming on a speedboat ! Which also means Maha boat is booked by Italian divers. So we took Vindhu-2 along, aka the Aquarium due to its astronomous number of windows.

All 10 guests (mostly british) had arrived the day before for a sundown start from Malé but australian Cdt Geoff was nowhere to be found since he had been sleeping on the beach at the aiport because Hulhule hotel was fully booked ! Again this year, the surf in Malé before the trip was brilliant with uncrowded 6ft throwing barrels.

« Last Stop / Riptides » being too small in South Malé, Vindhu kept on cruising and with cruising speed being more 9 than 8 knots, we managed to hit Muli 1h before dark. At this stage, weather was just splendid. Incoming current was outrageous so the 2-3ft swell was not so much fun in the channel. Next morning was looking inviting but we headed for Hadigilla knowing a SW swell was due. Next 2 days provided flawless 2-4ft surf with glassy conditions making the lineup look like a wave machine in a swimming pool. Then, wind swinged to an uncanny SE which made us surfed a new spot. Although I had surfed those lefts with late Malik Joyeux on the 2004 Oxbow trip, it was some kind of a premiere because 1-2ft lines were wrapping in a very different location of the island reef. Then, west winds started to kick in and it would never leave us until the end of the trip, featured by disputed skies and occasionnal rains, leaving a strong feeling of SW monsoon time (which normally hit mid May).

Mikado did not deliver the goods and remained in the 1-2ft league. Although the onshore lefts opposite the channel would reach 3ft and some good rides could be obtained, we made it to Yin Yang, which was gonna be our base for the last 7 days. The spot lived up to his reputation of being never flat despite small swell supply. A good swell showed up for 2 days and the inside turned into barrel fever on moments. We had a quick check at Machine / Tsunami's but a 15 knots west wind blew out 1ft+ surf. So we came back for more Yin Yang rides. I had told all guests to be careful of the infamous bowl, which produces the most powerful section in the Maldives. I probably did not listen to that advise and I found myself knocked out on the shallow reef. Definitely a mistake to catch the first wave of the set on a small day and my board got swallowed by the suck-up, which resulted in serious head injury. Fair enough, if that had to happen, I had to be first in line ! It did not take long to reach the hospital and get 12 stitches by Indian doctor and nurse. The main change over Yin Yang is that Olhuveli resort nearby will be opened early 2009. Let's wait for the pricing list...

Maldivesurf 4th season continues with Rifu, the new maldivian surfguide (Fayani's brother) who already visited the Central atolls last year with Portuguese surfers on a Turkish Gullet. Trips are booked up until June,7th but despite requests for the some periods in August-Sept, the booking is wide open until October on Maha. Feel free to drop in...

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