Mar 3, 2009

Malé Raalhugandu March,2

Small 1ft playful evening surf with the Malé locals. Guys having fun on all kinds of wave riding vehicles. Rifu , Fayani, Issey, Bilu , Fuku, Nahu, waveski... Where is Ibu ? Photos : YEP

It’s early afternoon in Malé and the local surfers start to sit near Toscaloosa restaurant, ex “Wipe-out Café” to smoke a cigarette and watch the waves. Unless it’s Friday or the swell really clean, noone bothers to show up in the surf before noon apart from a few expats or occasionnal bodyboarders. There is a reason for that : morning is front lit and looking at the sets when the sun glares in your eyes is a tough job while afternoon gets a beautiful back lighting.

So the 2nd generation hardcore locals usually gather in front of the spot, chat and take 1 hour or 2 to jump in the surf, usually altogether. The fact that kids get out of school around 3 pm adds a small boost in the lineup right after the 3h30pm prayer. By 06pm prayer that you can clearly hear from the water, the lineup is usually stuffed until dark at 06h30. Since the break aka “Raalhugandu” (literally the surfspot”) or Lonuziyaarai, as the named of the street which gets there, better works at low tide, sometimes the tide shift can influence that usual 3 pm rush.

Before 1992, when the Japanese helped Malé to prevent coastal erosion by dumping more than 3000 Tetrapods around the city, the surfspot was totally epic in the city : sometimes long perfect barrelling rights reeling along the southern point. Now, it’s more of a beachbreak kind of wave with longer and more rights but some vicious barrelling lefts when the swell gets over 6ft. The weird thing is swell starts bending outside and breaks in deep water and would be an ideal longboard wave but noone bothers to paddle out that far !

Ahmed Shihaz aka Mike is one of the main locals who started surfing 10 years ago. This regular footer is 30 now and has been studying 4 years Marine Biology in Malaysia. Since he could not find a job according to his studies, he finally made it as a surfguide in Dhonveli after a few boat trips as surfguide on Atoll Adventures boats. Until 2008, now he's back in town. There he is talking with his good friend Nahu, a real skinny guy with an afro type of hair and a really laid-back attitude that earns him the nickname of “Machado”. If you take a boat trip on Flying Fish, you’d probably have him as a softspoken surfguide, with a very fluid style. Obviously, Issey sits there also, waiting for his right time to get wet. Sometimes, you wonder how a 100,000 people super urban city like Malé does not nurture more surfers !

The first generation surfers like Naseem, Hunda (Abdullah Salim), Booga, Amin Didi or Big Mo have started surfing in the early 80’s in the direct wake of late Tony Hussein. Actually, most of those guys are from Kudafari in Noonu atoll and learn stand up surfing there when Tony Hussein was living on the island. Those early surfers don’t have the time to surf now and the 2nd generation of surfers of the mid-90’s like the Areef family (Iboo has 5 brothers who surf named Fuku, Ibrey…), Ajey, Amu, Bilu, Faya, Adam, Sharum, Shani…and even a handful of girls. Out of the 100 members of MSA (Maldivian Surfing Association), there are about 80 from Malé who run a contest every year in June to decide the wildcards for the WQ

S. Among the best surfers, there is also Pelé, not taller than 5’3”, the natural footer who works at the Seasport shop, who went to China last year for the contest with Iboo and Fuku. Pelé loves backand barrels and surfs on a 5’4”. Actually, his colleague, Motta, is also a good surfer, but surfs less now that he’s older. The 3rd generation are about half bodyboarders like Iman, Kunda Aya and when Malé is big, a good share of the lineup are bodyaboarders. Malé can be tricky to surf when big and stormy and can snap boards like chopsticks. A new board costs 800 USD in the shop, bodyboards don’t break… When it’s that big, there are other spots to surf like Rats shallow rights, near the main harbour or Vilingili super shallow rights but surf seems to be so consistent that most of the locals surf Raalhugandu and don’t charter a dhoni to North Malé legendary breaks so often. Some of those guys work as surfguide on the surf safari boats so they’re not surf-starved.

Generally, the ocean is not as wild as in the Pacific for example and Maldivians have been used to stay on land whenever the sea is too rough to navigate for example. Because of more sunshine and the traditionnal lack of food (malnutrition has been endemic up to the 60’s), lack of water, seamen can’t be daredevils like in Hawaii or French Polynesia and the result is that Maldivians are not big chargers, they feel more like skinny stylish surfers than heavy surf challengers.

Don’t get me wrong, Maldivians love surfing but because they’ve been secluded for so many centuries, they also enjoy now the modern world getting to their islands like mobile phones, satellite TV, trendy clothing so they really like to hang around the surf, chatting with friends and having fun at crazy wipe-outs while gazing at the glittering surf.


Emilio said...

Good Bloog my Friend!!


See you!!

Wrong Island Surf said...

These are some great pictures! What camera do you use? I have been wanting to take some for my website.

antony colas said...

shots taken by GoPro camera wide angle 270°