O’Neill Deep Blue Open 2001 – Day 1

The O’Neill Deep Blue Open Commences as Maldives First Ever Surf Event

– Registration Day & Expression Session ¿

Lohifushi Island, Maldives Saturday 9th June 2001

Today (9th June 2001) the opening ceremony for the O’Neill Deep Blue Openbegan a new chapter in the colourful Maldevian surfing history. Nearlythree decades since Tony Hussain Hinde first introduced surfing to thesedreamy tropical islands, the $80,000 O’Neill Deep Blue Open WQS 5 Starevent marks a new era in Maldivian surfing as the the first everprofessional surfing competition to be staged in their crystal clearwaters. This morning as the sun beat down, the small island resort ofLohifishi in the Northern Attols extended the warmest welcome to all thathad made the trip to the islands for the event.

“We wanted to create a special event again.” Said O’Neill Europe’s BernhardRitzer at the opening ceremony. “We created a special event last year withthe Deep Jungle Open in Nias, Sumatra and this year we just wanted to makeit a little bit more comfortable, a little easier. The Mobile format is thekey to the success of the competition and this way we can ensure that thesurfers are surfing a selection of the best possible waves avaliable.”

Such an event has taken a lot of logistical planning and great deal ofimagination. Matt Wilson from ASP Australia explained.

“What we basicly did was open up a world atlas and checked out possiblelocations. What we found when we came to the Maldives the first time was aplace that provided that special thing we were looking for, beautifulsuroundings and world class waves.I just hope that in bringing professional surfing here 30 years on fromwhen Tony Hussain Hinde first arrived, we can do it with the same passionand respect that he has.”

For most of the international contingent it is the first time they had everbeen to the islands and and everyone was blown away by the natural beautyof the islands that span over 450 km.

We really are in paradise!” Said Steve Robinson from ASP Australia “thewhole local population is really enthusiastic about the event the generalfeel about the place and the way that the surfers and officials are beingtreated is just fantastic. The waves are bit small at the moment buteveryone1s having fun in the surf and it looks like its going to build aswe go into the event.

The event has long been anticipated by the locals, especially by theMaldevian surfing Association whom have played a major role in the eventorganisation throughout. Hussain Areef otherwise known as Ibu is theMaldevian national Surfing champion who will be competing in the Deep BlueOpen. Ibu spoke of the buzz and excitment that is sweeping the islands asthe anticipation of the start of the competition builds.

“Everyone here is really stoked that a competition like this has finallycome to our islands .The guys from the MaldevianSurfing Association haveput so much into this event, they1re really happy to have everyone here forthis historic event and to surf our waves I’m really stoked! Really happyto be surfing here and competing against those guys, I see them in themovies and the magazines, it’s just a great honour to be competing againstthem at my home breaks.”

After the opening speeches the gathered crowds lined the waters edge to geta prime view the expression session that kicked of in clean 2-3ft waves.With the pro’s slashing up turquoise faces of the break of Lohi’s while thesun beat down, the setting was a perfect introduction for professionalsurfing to the Maldives.

World number one Cory Lopez (USA) fresh from his victory at the prestigeousTeahupoo World Championship Tour (WCT) event in Tahiti, emerged from theexpression session to face the media and fans that waited for him at thewaters edge.

” This is my first time here, I’ve only been here for around 15 hours andit’s a real nice place, the waves are fun it feels real good to be here.”Said Cory. “I think its ggoing to be one of the better contests that therehas ever been, just because to come to an amazing place like this and surfwaves. Then sail to different spots as the waves get better, it’s amazingwe’re like in fantasy land. It’s obviously a lot different from Teahupoo.Teahupoo a lot more stressful, you are always wondering when it’s going toget big, and what it’s going to be like. This is just going to be funrippable waves.”

The event is due to start with the arrival of the new swell round the 11thand will focus upon the breaks of Lohi’s, Jailbreaks, Pasta Point andColas. With the contageous good vibes and buzz spreading from island toisland, the Maldives people and its temporary residents are ready towitness the most promising WQS event of the year

Courtesy of Surfing Australiawww.surfingaustralia.com