Dave Rastovich retained his Single Fin title in a dramatic day at the Four Seasons Maldives Champions trophy, beating a shredding and highly emotional Neco Padaratz in the final.
In long 4-5 foot waves Padaratz has won the hearts of spectators and organisers during his heats and was absolutely over brimming with stoke and energy when he sustained an injury in the final. Neco had threaded the best tubes of the day, two behind the foam ball, in a highly charged display. “I am so fortunate be here, more than you will ever believe,” he had said earlier in the day, before heading out and smashing his heat. “I was sat there reflecting on life and the ups and downs over the past years when this wave came to me and it was just perfect,” he said apres heat, “I took it as a sign, and then another came through. It was just amazing,’ he continued. He was clearly having time of his life and showing it drawing hoots from the boats in the channel and a standing ovation on his return. His final didn’t go to plan however, as he aggravated an old back injury and had to be returned to the Mother Ship clinging to the side of a rib. Obviously he was in pain, but more obvious was the stoke still boiling within as he threw mini shakas and smiles through the grimaces. Won a new fan in me, that’s for sure.
In earlier heats World Longboard Champ Harley Ingleby absolutely smashed his first round, proving he can actually ride anything as good as anyone, but succumbed to a slow period of waves during his semi final. Full top to bottom hacks, roundhouses, he blazed early on. Skindog had told me he would have a fiver on him to take the title and it wouldn’t have been a bad bet, but as Rasta said, “Contest surfing is a funny thing. You are reliant on nature, and sometimes nature just doesn’t want to play.” The waves just deserted the champ on the turn on the tide ending his title hopes.
Rasta put on a great display of swooping power gouges, linked turns and just generally produced joyful surfing, punctuated with a bit of body English through all his heats for a worthy win. He is up for his title defence and being a lover of a twin fin must now be favourite to retain his title.
Other highlights of the day included a couple of Dorians’ thousand mile stares, which are worth the Air Miles here to witness in person. (Would do a great James Bond I think). He left the boat right after his loss. Despite all the big wave charging I think Shano still has the competitive bug deep within. I think all top former surfers have probably have it, it just takes a hooter for them to come out swinging like an old boxing pro on hearing a bell. They may deny it, they may culture a different image, but that hooter goes and a dog is in the fight.
Diminutive Sofia Mulanovich also impressed, man-hacking the backs out of some hefty sections (unfortunately she needed more co operative runners to progress). She has a handicap advantage in her heats but to be honest if I were surfing I think I would be appealing that and trying to keep her off the set waves. #Danger
Tomorrow sees the start of the Twin Fin comp. I hope Neco is ok because the comp will be poorer for his loss and reading between the lines it could genuinely mean more than a few bucks and a trophy to him. (Get behind your heroes, Brazil). I have feeling Dorian wants more, and Gerlach, who didn’t really get going on his single fin will be back on a craft more suited to his style. Should be an interesting day, stay tuned…