We arrive at the first break for our first surf of the trip. Being a brand new charter, with first-time Maldives surfers, nobody even knows which spot we’re at, but we don’t really care about the name. A perfect 3ft right-hander is peeling down the reef alongside a desolate looking, palm-tree laden island right in front of us. There are about 5 other charters anchored in the line-up, and close to 30 guys in the water. We were warned about the crowds north of Male.
We all scramble to get our boards set up. Wax combs out, removing the cold water wax, replacing it with warm water wax. We excitedly exchange Cape Town wetsuits for board shorts and rash vests and throw on some booties for the reef. Our skipper Joe gets the yacht as close as possible, and everyone sequentially jumps off the back. Out of instinct, I brace for cold water. Hitting the water is an incredible feeling: it’s the warmest water I’ve ever felt, warmer than the air, which is already 31 degrees and who knows how humid. Our group starts to paddle towards the backline. This is the moment we’ve flown over 18 hours for.