Bruce Irons to compete in Maldives contest; Blanchard withdraws

  • Kirstin Scholtz / WSL

    Bruce Irons stops for a photo in this 2007 photo.

  • Karen Wilson / WSL

    Bruce Irons competes during the Billabong Pro Tahiti, in this 2006 photo.

COOLANGATTA, Queensland, Australia — With just a few weeks until the 2018 Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy kicks off, momentum is building with the announcement of the final invitees for the ‘world’s most luxurious surf event.’

Kauai native Bruce Irons will join Brazilian Alejo Muniz, 2001 WSL Champion CJ Hobgood and local wildcard Abdulla ‘Fuku’ Areef.

Irons, former WSL Championship Tour (CT) star, is renowned for his technical brilliance in the tube, ability to land massive aerial manoeuvres and general all-around style. Irons is one of the most iconic surfers of his generation.

After retiring from competitive surfing in his late twenties, Irons has spent the last decade traveling the world hunting for perfect waves in the most idyllic locations. With a thirst for warm water reef breaks and an inbuilt competitive tenacity, Irons is sure to be one of the most exciting names added to the Champions Trophy competitors list in its eight-year history.

“I (am) so pumped to be invited to this event,” Irons said via WSL. “The Maldives is such a fun place to go surfing with the awesome waves, picturesque islands and clear warm water, it’s a surfing paradise. I’ve seen and heard things about the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy in the past and think it sounds like the sickest event. I can’t wait to get over there and surf the different boards in those waves. It’s going to be amazing.”

Fellow Kauai native Alana Blanchard, who was an invitee last month, has withdrawn from the 2018 Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy as she and partner — Australian surfer Jack Freestone — plan to focus on their newborn son Banks.

Another former CT surfer who will be joining the likes of Irons, Josh Kerr and Fred Patacchia Jnr will be Muniz, who burst onto the elite CT as a teenager and wowed the tour with his lightning-fast brand of surfing.

Muniz will be taking a short break from re-qualifying to rip into the walls of Sultans with some of his idols.

With multiple Maldivian Surfing Championships to his name, along with a string of WSL Qualifying Series event appearances, the 2018 Fours Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy event wildcard has gone to Areef. With a lightning fast backhand and superior knowledge of the waves in the area, Areef will be one to watch when he takes on his heroes this August at Sultans.

With the unfortunate withdrawal of the two-time reigning event winner Taj Burrow due to a knee injury, the door has been opened for Hobgood to return in 2018. Hailing from Florida, Hobgood’s antics in big barreling waves is what gained him global notoriety, but it is his super stylish backhand that will make him a favorite at Sultans when competition gets underway this August.

Hobgood was a standout at the Champions Trophy last year, only just being edged out by eventual winner Burrow so was understandably stoked when he got the call up again in 2018.

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