Richard Kotch // Maldives

Richard learned to surf in the frigid, murky, rarely surf-able waters of the English Channel after a chance meeting with Tom Curren near Lacanu in South West France. Rich says “I had never really seen anyone surf before but we just happened to be camping near where Tom was staying and I clearly remember standing in the shore break one morning, watching him surf for hours on end. Two things stand out from that day. One, that I was going to learn to surf and that it was going to be the most important thing in my life and two, that style is everything. Even to a kid who knew nothing, Tom stood out for his beautiful, effortless, graceful approach to riding waves. I became pretty much obsessed with surfing and Curren. Thirty years on he is still my favorite surfer ever”.

After a couple years of “totally frothing over freezing cold, 1ft onshore junk” in the English Channel, Rich moved to North Devon and quickly joined the small but surprisingly dedicated surf community at Croyde Bay. “Those were magical times, this was a tiny village in England no one had ever heard of that had one of the most committed, hard core surf scenes I have seen to this day.”

From Croyde, Richard’s horizons expanded dramatically. “It was amazing really, here in this tiny little farming village nestled into the hills on the edge of the Atlantic, was this group of worldly wise surfers who had travelled all over the globe in their search of surf. They would work and save through the summer and then travel through the winter. It was a way of life I quickly and enthusiastically embraced!” You might add ‘and perfected’ as these days Richard (now a successful surf travel photographer) and his wife Amy, spend their time between the Maldives, Indonesia, Micronesia, and New Zealand.

It was in the Maldives six years ago that Rich first met Matt Calvani and his wife Margaret. “At the time I was rehabbing a knee injury that had kept me out of the water for 6 months but I was just about ready to surf again. Matt leant me a Bing Maui Foil and suggested I used the extra paddle power to glide into a couple waves. It was the most fun I’d had in years and for the next two weeks I rode a different Bing from Matt and Margaret’s quiver everyday. We have been good friends ever since.

These days Rich rides a variety of Bings from his 5’6 Bulb to a 9’6 California Pintail “Everyone has this idea that Matt shapes great boards for shitty waves but I have been so impressed by the way his boards perform in perfect waves. The Dharma 2.0 for example is considered a board for small summer waves, but I have been amazed by how responsive and maneuverable it is when weaving through tubes. The Spork is a great all-rounder and my go to board for good waves. It is as responsive as a regular short board but has the ‘glide in factor’ of a much bigger board and the Whippet is a ‘must have’ board if you are off to Indo or somewhere else with world-class barrels”

So if you are considering a surf trip to the Maldives look Rich up, you never know, he might have a Bing that you can borrow and your surfing life might just become a whole lot more fun!

Instagram: @richard_kotch