Floating Riders of the Indian Ocean, Chapter III

Above the reef

Salty red eyes and the Maldives swell

Floating Riders of the Indian Ocean by Raúl Ruz, Chapter III

A light wind is blowing. The water is warm. The best season for surfing in the Maldives goes from May until October, when you can experience some amazing quality surf. During these months the conditions are predominantly off-shore due to the monsoonal winds from the Indian Subcontinent and the swell generated from the South. The Maldivian waves cover a great variety of reef breaks ranging in intensity. A completely flat sea isn’t something you often see here.

Before experiencing the Maldives’ waves, I surfed elsewhere above the coral reefs. These are the best waves: constant and always the same shape. It’s amazing how the wave breaks on a coral reef. They break in an almost identical way, every time. You expect the same from them every time you try different manoeuvres, experiment different moves. You get better and explore your skills, your commitment and devotion. Beautiful and fragile, the coral reefs team with an astonishing sea life. Thousands of different species inhabit the waters around the Maldives, ranging from colourful and marvelous coral fishes to a large amount of dolphins swimming and playing around almost everywhere.

It’s just impossible to be in the water at the central hours of the day. Sun at these latitudes is so extremely powerful you don’t manage to surf; yet sometimes you can’t resist diving into the beautiful light waters. One afternoon, after a hard long session in the warm and salty waters, I couldn’t open my eyes anymore, so I got back to the boat and laid there for a while. When the other guys came along, I was relieved as I saw their glad and tired faces marked with bloodshot eyes, a sight I had never seen before.

It was during the Holy week, some years ago, when I first discovered surf. The water was still cold in Sitges, near Barcelona, the city where I was born. There were some surfers present and some of them were in the sea all day. I remember clearly buying my first surfboard from one of the guys from my neighborhood. My friends and I got our boards —we had no wax either— and tried to get the breaker. It was amazing, and the feeling of strain and accomplishment got me hooked. I skipped my photography classes when there was a chance to surf ever since.

The open sea. Surfing here, you lose every benchmark, it’s just you, the Indian Ocean and its endless light blue. You don’t have any reference, you can no longer calculate distance: it feels pretty strange at first. After a few days, everything falls back into place. You start feeling the waves, enjoy the surf and enhance the relationship between your body and the water. The different tones of blue began to look familiar and perhaps I was even able to tell one from another.

I remember clearly that a dark blue —the color you see at dusk— created the scenery for the most blissful and simplest moments I experienced here. Just before sunset, I went in Jail with some friends. There were no waves and everyone had left some minutes before. It was just three of us, and everything was almost dark when some amazing waves appeared out of nowhere. I was there alone together with my two mates, surfing the incessant waves and enjoying a perfect moment I think I will never forget.

Pictures. Raul Rúz
Words. Vincenzo Angileri & Raul Rúz

Raúl Ruz

Raúl Ruz

Surfer and Photographer
Raul is a Barcelona based photographer. He works as a freelance for national and international magazines, as well as for several fashion and advertising brands. Avowed longboarder and sea lover, the search for the wave brought him to travel to many different places of the world, Morocco, Australia, Costa Rica and Maldives among others.
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