Style, grace mixed with a touch of that famed French flair. Hadrien Meilleur took the inaugural Reef Rampage, giving us an excellent day of brilliant surf. The Malta Surf and Sup Association’s first event, held in Marley’s Bahar ic Caghaq, drew in the crowds on fine sunny day with great waves on the 21st of January. Just picture it: a warm sun to the cool breeze, epic waves and a crowd like no other… which Bray Grima snapped so well using his 35mm.
The competition was split into four 1st round heats, with three surfers emerging from each group into a Round of 12. It trickled down, sifting through the best surfers until a final four popped up as finalists. Three judges, Damian Debinski, Liam Spiteri and Mark (hello!), scored each wave, maintaining a consistent scoring system throughout each round. Rudy Dorekens, ironically the competition’s official timekeeper kept things flowing smoothly too!
Hadrien’s calmness made him ruthless as he kept getting better and faster by the heat. As it climaxed in the final, it was clear the French American would be eyeing the prize.
Beside Hadri in the final lineup, Italian Carlo Gravina stormed through to the final four after an excellent semi-final. Carlo’s focus was laser-sharp all day as he picked off his fellow surfers one by one in each heat. He was strong and in the mood to win.
Sky Howes also had a brilliant day in the water, which kept getting better and better with some good long waves, and sweet turns. With high scorers in every heat, Sky was hungry for glory, after narrowly missing out on a podium finish in last year’s Cold Water Invitational.
(Aaron Attard with the snaps above, capturing the excitement at sea.)
Matteo Saccardi made the final too, and the young Italian gave us some brilliant long rides throughout the day. He stormed through a semi-final heat with an incredible buzzer-beater, and looked cool and calm in the water all day.
The final was a lesson in surfing, with all four surfers scoring high. A tight group impressed the judges with scores that were consistent and similar. It was a very close final, with Hadrien eventually cementing his place at the top after a sweet wave towards the very end of the heat. It was a fully deserved victory for the dazzling surfer. “I never thought I was gonna win for a second,” joked Hadrien before congratulating all the surfers and finalists. He’s stoked with the win!
Brilliant prizes followed…
The roadshow continued as the crowd and surfers moved to Salumeria Gardens in St. Julian’s, where we were on hand to give out the gorgeous trophies and amazing prize bags consisting of vouchers for Quiksilver and Billabong outlets in Sliema (aka RIOT), Bomba merch and stickers, surf equipment from Decathlon and an amazing surf skateboard from BoatSalesMalta. The trophies, sponsored by Malta Surf School and handmade by Elena Cassar, were the cherry on top of the big cake. During the day, Dr Juice were on hand to power the surfers with juices while fans (and mums) brought cupcakes, treating our surfers like royalty. The crowd were treated too, with sick tunes coming from Dissspin, setting the tone during the day. Tonio Brio won the prize for the Bomba Wipe Out – and fittingly already lost his prize at the awards ceremony- finders keepers, eh!
The conditions were great all day, giving us consistent surfable waves with some breaks. This lead to a show for the spectators and judges alike with plenty of action and every surfer catching points and scoring well.
As Hadrien wakes up on Monday, he’ll be greeted by an inbox bursting with messages – a real crowd pleaser, and one who was also part of the organizing committee, which included fellow finalist Sky, Braydon Grima whose creative mind birthed the super event poster, and of course, yours truly Mark from BOMBA – and we’re super proud to serve this amazing community.
Only one question remains now. When’s the next one? We’ll all meet at Maori on Sunday 28th for a potluck dinner, and we already know the main topic of conversation! Reef Rampage: you were a blast!