O’Neill Europe Prepares for the 3rd Maldives Deep Blue Open

High Expectations for 3rd Maldives Mobile Boat Drop Event.

2003 O’Neill Deep Blue Open, 9th — 15th June 2003

Republic of the Maldives

5 star World Qualifying Series Event

Prize Purse $100,000 (USD)

O’Neill Europe is once again bringing their formidable mobile boat drop surfing event back to the azure waters of the Maldives. Preparations for the third edition of the O’Neill Deep Blue Open 5 star World Qualifying Series (WQS) event are in full swing. Between the 9th and 15th June 2003, over 100 of the world’s most progressive surfers will again converge on the fabled doodle book waves of the North Malé Atoll, going head to head in an attempt to chalk their names on the coveted Deep Blue Open crown. Lay claim to their stake of the $100,000 (USD) prize purse and pocket as many of the valuable WQS tour points on offer.

Surfing was first brought to this unique corner of the world in the 1970´s, when Australian Tony Hussein Hinde and his travelling companion became shipwrecked on one of the island chains many treacherous reefs. Waves of dreamlike dimensions and the warmth of the Maldivian people encouraged Tony to settle in the islands naming all the breaks whilst adopting the local traditions and way of life. But it wasn’t until back in 2001; nearly 3 decades since the discovery of epic surf on the South East facing reefs, that professional surfing unlocked the secrets of this ultramarine surfing destination.

In 2001, O’Neill Europe’s dream to stage another pioneering event in a unique destination materialised. Together with Surfing Australia they successfully masterminded the first ever mobile Deep Blue Open contest. The waves were indisputably good for the week long competition but failed to defy expectations. Knowing that the Maldives had plenty more up its sleeve, O’Neill vowed to return.

In 2002, armed with valuable experience and insight into the dynamics of the tricky weather systems that roll through the mid Indian Ocean, the contest began to unfold at the break of Lohi´s. Heat by heat the performances levels were going through the roof, climaxing in what many described as one of the most sensational finals ever witnessed. Tim Curran reignited his competitive career in the dying seconds of the 30 minute final with his trademark front-side-air 360°, snatching the glory from right under the noses of the other finalists. It was becoming increasingly clear that the Maldives truly was a jewel in the crown of the WQS year.

With all this in the bag it wasn’t a difficult call to make: After the success of the past two years the obvious choice was to return this year… says O’Neill Europe’s Bernhard Ritzer. “Surfing long, consistent, rippable waves in such an amazing place is mind blowing. The event sites are amongst the best in the world and the locals are just wonderful. I’d really love to see the right-hander at Coke’s turn it on for the contest this year. It can be a big beast of a wave with a great barrel section and one of the most unique backdrops on the planet, hopefully this years contest will unfold there, he adds.

Prime conditions and a seven day waiting period combined with the Deep Blue’s mobile boat drop format, will again ensure the event will take place in the most optimum conditions available. Last year the wave of choice was the screaming left-handers that consistently graced the reef of Lohi´s, but with so many breaks at O’Neill’s disposal, who knows what wave will take centre stage in 2003?

“The high performance waves in the Maldives offer the chance for surfers to try literally any manoeuvre. We’ve witnessed the most progressive and innovative competition surfing over the course of the last two events, especially in the final, where guys have just laid everything on the line… I’m sure we’ll see this continue in 2003, says Surfing Australia contest director Matt Wilson.

The stage is once again set for a return trip to the paraddise islands of the Indian Ocean. As the world’s top surfers complete the Deep Blue Open entry form, all attention is starting to turn to June the 9th and the long super high performance waves that are expected to greet them at the 3rd O’Neill Deep Blue Open.

For more information (online beginning of May): www.deepblueopen.com

For more information about O’Neill’s other events and teamriders: www.oneilleurope.com