Richard and Amy Kotch are currently sitting tight in Micronesia seeing out the epic season. They were able to sit down with World Surfaris (WS) and take a few question about the upcoming season in the Maldives. It’s well worth the read and as always Richard’s photos just make you want go there.
Enjoy the pics and gallery at the very bottom WS .
WS:You guys are about to head back to Lohis for your sixth season in the Maldives, are you excited to be heading back or does it just feel like going back to work?
Rich: Of course we’re excited! It’s hard not to be excited to be going back to the world’s most fun/rip-able waves!
WS: So, what is your favorite wave in the N Male region?
Amy: Lohis! Honkies, Chickens!! All the lefts, of course, as I am a goofy foot. Though, I’m going to surf Cokes way more this year too.
Rich: We’ll see!
Amy: Haha, He get’s a bit possessive about the Cokes boat!!
WS: How consistent is the surf in the Maldives?
Rich: Super consistent. If you are not too fussy you can usually surf every day. Lohis is probably the most consistent wave in the Maldives – it can still have a 2-3ft wave when everywhere else is flat. Last year, in a six-month season, we had ten days that I’d call un-surfable. The year before had only six. I’m not saying that we get epic, world-class waves all the time but that you can go out and have a fun surf.
WS: How’s the reef? Is it super gnarly like Indo or Tahiti?
Amy: Nah its mellow. It’s probably the friendliest reef in the world. There are a couple tricky sections but it’s nothing like HTs, Bingin, or out here in Micronesia. I have only hit the reef twice in my whole time in the Maldives.
WS: Do we need booties?
Rich: No not really. If you’re on the boat trips with us you’re going to jump off the boat out the back, and return to the boat after your session so you’re not really going to be walking across reef. But if you want to bring some to wear while you get familiar with the place then do it. Some guys feel more comfortable in booties, so by all means bring them!
WS: So it’s a good place for beginners?
Rich: No, we’re not saying that. We do say that it’s a great place for intermediate level surfers to experience surfing over reef for the first time. The waves are so perfect and really forgiving so as long as you can paddle onto a wave and set your line across it you’re in for a great ride. Personally, I think that it’s quite irresponsible to promote the Maldives, well, the N. Male region that I’m familiar with, as a place to learn to surf.
WS: How crowded does it get over there?
Rich: For such good waves the crowds are still not too bad. Compared to the Super bank or the “name” waves in Indo the crowds are good. You can always get waves. The waves are long with multiple take off areas so you can always find an un-crowded section. I must say though that last year was the worst I’ve ever seen it, but that means that this year the crowds will be way down. Guarantee it.
WS: Do you get many pro’s over there dominating?
Amy: No not really, a couple here and there on their honeymoon but nothing like Indo. We hardly ever see pro’s coming out on photo trips and such…
WS: What boards will you guys be packing?
Amy: Small, fast fun ones!
Rich: Not many – I’ve left 4 or 5 over there…maybe just my magic 5’9
WS: What size boards do you guys ride.
Amy: 5’4 – 5’8 Dahlberg’s and a magic 5’3 Woody Jack fish.
Rich: I shoot way more than I surf but if I’m surfing I ride a 5’10 Dahlberg most days…I’ve also got a Woody which is so fun for the small perfect days.
WS: What boards do you recommend?
Rich: When guys ask what boards to bring I always say that the first board to pack is your every day board that you ride at home. It can be hard getting to know a new wave without the added stress of trying to learn to ride a new board. From your every day board I’d recommend bringing a step up for the bigger days and a step down incase it’s small and weak. It really depends on your ability. A fit, experienced surfer can ride a standard short board every day. Even when it’s 6ft the take offs are really mellow and when it’s 2ft you can still find little power pockets to generate speed. On the biggest day I have ever seen here, Amy still only rode a 6’1” and did great with it. It’s not like you need a big board to catch a wave, and often having too much board in front of you can be a problem. We get a lot of emails from guys who say they are getting boards shaped especially for their trip and want advice on what to get. So again I go back to what they usually ride day to day at home and take it from there. If someone surfs the Goldie every day then whatever they ride at home is fine. If they are from down south and are used to wearing a lot of rubber and paddling into thick heavy waves then I’d say perhaps refine it a bit. Whatever you do you really don’t need a gun. Think fine lipped, fun, rip-able perfection in boardies, with a few good barrels thrown in!
WS: Other than boards, what else goes in your bags?
Rich: Cameras, heaps of camera gear and housings.
Amy: So much camera gear he won’t let me bring any clothes!
WS: Do you have any other recommendations on what else to pack?
Rich: Apart from the obvious spare fins, leg rope, rashie, hat etc. I like to travel with good quality electrolyte tablets. You loose so much fluid surfing in the tropics, it’s essential to re-hydrate after every session. There’s an Aussie product called Shotz. They are the best I’ve found. I also use their gel packs and protein bars to get me through marathon days of surfing and shooting.
WS: How’s the surf camp where you guys work?
Rich: It’s more of a hotel on an island with a good wave, than a surf camp. It’s very comfortable and really quite idyllic. The island takes about 15 mins to walk around.
WS: Is there internet available?
Amy: Yes, the reception and bar area is a Wifi zone.
WS: What is there to do at night?
Amy: It’s not Kuta that’s for sure! But what I will say is that the island is so well set up that if you want to party hard you can, after all, the bar is all-inclusive! At the same time it’s a magic place if you want a romantic evening with your partner….Or if you want a quiet night with the wife and kids you can…there are plenty of options and the island is big enough and well laid out so that a couple having a beautiful diner at the sunset restaurant won’t be aware of the group of young guys partying with the Russian air hostesses at the beach bar!
WS: Are the locals friendly?
Amy: The Maldivian surfers are super friendly…they don’t take surfing too seriously and are really generous with their waves. They were pretty mad last season when some investment company tried to privatize Sultans but that’s not happening so it’s all good.
WS: Ok, do I’m definitely going to the Maldives this season. Should I do resort or Boat?
Rich: That’s the hardest question so far! The main advantages of the island are the multiple surf options that we offer every day. Because we have the luxury of a world class wave off the tip of Hudhuranfushi and two or three surf transfer Dhonis operating morning and evening, guests can always go and surf the waves that the want to, be it a barreling right, a long left, a playful right or whatever…. On a typical day a guest can surf Lohis before breakfast, then jump on a boat up to Cokes/Chickens and surf until lunch. After lunch you can have a nap or surf empty Lohis before taking the evening boat to Jails/Honkies/Sultans
…Comparatively, if you are on a boat, you need to make a group decision to be in one area, which can be difficult if you have a mixed ability group. However, once you’re committed to an area you are then anchored right in the channel in front of the wave all day enabling you to pick your moment to make the most of conditions. This is why I always think that when booking a boat trip it’s a good idea to book with a group of “like minded” mates who want to surf similar waves. There’s nothing worse than being on a boat with guys who all want to surf a 2ft left while you’re frothing over a 6ft right, or with a group wanting to surf heaving barrels while you want to surf the playful left a in saying that it’s not a major deal in the Malè atolls if that happens as the tenders boats can split groups between breaks…. Personally, I like coming back to the island at the end of the day. If you’re travelling with your wife, girlfriend or family then Hudhuranfushi is the best option by far. If you are a group of mates then a boat trip is great…though in saying that the island is great for groups of guys too, especially with the all inclusive bar and nightly entertainment!
WS: What is your favorite memory of all your time in the Maldives?
Rich: Meeting my amazing wife of course! My favorite surf memory would have to be from the 2011 season when we had an epic Cokes swell but no guests wanted to surf. Amy, one guest and me who wanted to watch, went up to Cokes and the only other people in the water were our friends Adam and his wife. The waves were as good as waves get. I broke a couple boards but it was a truly epic day. Another good memory would be from this past October when Shaun Levings was over. We had another session at Cokes with just Shaun, Amy, Andy Schwartz from Handufali, and two guests in the water at perfect 4-5ft Cokes…. Good times!
So that’s it guys, sounds pretty amazing. If you want your Malè atoll experience then check out our Malè destinations here