1999 World Champion Mark Occhilupo ("Occy") from Tweeds Head, Australia won the inaugural Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy - organised in conjunction with luxury surf pioneers Tropicsurf of Noosa, Australia - after a sensational week of surfing from six former world champions.
Contested over three days from August 31 to September 5, 2011 at the world-class break of Sultan's Point, located just off Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, the event saw historic match-ups between contestants including four-time world champion Mark Richards and seven-time world champion Layne Beachley in a competition dubbed "the world's most luxurious surfing event."
It was a clean sweep for Occy, who won all three divisions of Single Fin, Twin Fin and Thrusters, before defeating world longboard champion Josh Constable in the Grand Champions Final to take home USD 19,000 of the USD 25,000 on offer.
The President of the Maldives, His Excellency Mohamed Nasheed and members of his cabinet watched the Grand Champions Final from the three-deck, 39 metre (128 foot) Four Seasons Explorer luxury catamaran, the Maldives' ultimate surf vessel.
During the competition, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa scooped the top award at the Condé Nast Traveller 14th annual Readers' Travel Awards in London - the Best of the Best in the World's Top 100. And the surfers, partners and event crew certainly made the most of the five-star resort facilities.
"Personally I would like to congratulate Four Seasons on winning the award for best resort in the world and I can vouch that's true," said Occhilupo. "It's been an amazing time here. Sanjiv Hulugalle and all his staff have been incredible to us."
Occy dedicated his win to the late Tony Hussein Hinde (1953-2008), an Australian-born Maldivian surfing pioneer, considered to be "the father of surfing in the Maldives," who looked after Occhilupo on his first visit to the island nation over a decade ago .
Following his win, Occy and Constable celebrated by dancing with the President to the sounds of the traditional Maldivian bodu beru drummers. "It was a perfect way to cap off an incredible week," said Constable.
"The whole Maldives experience has been luxurious, from the Resort to the local surfers allowing us to take over their break," confirmed Beachley. "One of the best trips of my life, I never want to leave."
Resort guests rubbed shoulders with the contest's participants in Kuda Huraa's vibrant village setting - home to competitors, judges and supporters alike for the duration of the event. Guests booking the Resort's all-inclusive four- or seven-night Champions Trophy package got right on top of the action with competition day passes aboard Four Seasons Explorer and three half-day surfing passes with Tropicsurf.
Never before has a surf competition amassed such a high-profile field in such privileged surroundings. "It's the ultimate surf competition showcasing a hand-picked field of iconic champions with the latest surf craft available in some of the best surf on the planet," said Event Coordinator Mark Winson of Tropicsurf.
Following the enormous success of the inaugural event Four Seasons and Tropicsurf have vowed to make the 2012 Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy bigger and better next year.
Four Seasons Resorts Maldives wish to thank its kind co-sponsors of the 2011 Surfing Champions Trophy: HSBC, Billabong, Wataniya Telecom Maldives, Surfing World and Singapore Airlines; and its six inaugural contestants, all from Australia: 1999 World Champion Mark Occhilupo (Tweeds Head, New South Wales), 2006 world longboard champion Josh Constable (Noosa, Queensland), five-time world champion Mark Richards (Newcastle), seven-time world champion Layne Beachley (Manly), six-time world champion Nat Young (Town) and two-time world champion Damien Hardman (Narrabeen, New South Wales).