Tony ‘Honky’ Hussein Hinde
Tony Hinde was born in 1953, one of nine children. He grew up in Maroubra, a southern Sydney suburb, where he started surfing at an early age. After leaving school he went traveling in search of surf and adventure, and worked in mining areas of Western Australia. In 1973, with his mate Mark Scanlon, he hitched a lift on a private yacht sailing from Sri Lanka to South Africa. A few nights later, the yacht was wrecked on a reef in the Maldives, a little known, isolated and almost inaccessible island nation. Next morning, Tony and Scanno saw the crystal clear water washing over pristine coral reefs, and realized the potential for great surf. Following the months of salvage work, the southern swells arrived and they knew they had found a surfing paradise. They cruised the atolls in a traditional dhoni (Maldivian fishing boat), finding perfect waves and unspoiled beaches, and meeting local people who had never encountered a foreigner.
Tony spent the next 15 years living on the island of Himmafushi, assimilating into the culture and learning Divehi, the Maldivian language. He discovered, surfed and named all the main breaks in North and South Male Atolls. The long, left-hander on Thaburudhoo Island is named Honky’s, after Tony’s nickname. He also explored breaks in the southern atolls that are still only accessible to visitors on live-aboard boats. For over a decade the Maldives was the best kept secret in surfing and Tony had the waves to himself. He shared the secret with Scanno and a few tight-lipped mates who visited, and with the young Maldivians he introduced to surfing. In 1983, after many months of supervised courtship, Tony married Zulfa Ismail, a Maldivian lady from Male, the Maldives capital. He formally adopted the Muslim religion and added the traditional ‘Hussein’ to his name. They had two children, a son and a daughter, and the young family lived in Male.
In the 1980s Tony began to arrange private surf tours for those in the know. As Maldives tourism expanded, he recognized that the development of commercial surf travel was inevitable, and determined that it should be done in a responsible manner. In 1989 he established Atoll Adventures Pvt Ltd (Maldives) as a registered tour operator and the first specialist surfing operator in the Maldives. Atoll Adventures partnered with an Australian surf travel agent to offer Maldives surfing trips to the international market. Atoll Adventures became the sole operator of surfing at the (then) Thari Village resort, in the heart of the Maldives best surf zone. It was the perfect surf resort with a brilliantly consistent left hand wave breaking at “Pasta Point”, on the southern tip of the island. It is a longstanding Maldivian convention that villages and resorts have exclusive access to their own island’s reefs for fishing and diving. Atoll Adventures was able to apply this principle to the Pasta Point surf break, allowing Tony to operate a sustainable surf program without overcrowding.
With word-of-mouth advertising and a growing reputation for the professional operation of its tours, Atoll Adventures catered to an ever increasing demand for resort-based surfing at Pasta Point and boat-based surfaris. Zulfa took charge of the administration and management of the business. For Tony, it meant taking responsibility for increasing numbers of guests from around the world, and training the guides who have always ensured the safety of visiting surfers. Tony’s sociable nature, dry humour, and wide knowledge were greatly appreciated by many visitors to the Maldives. His integrity, intelligence and vision ensured that Atoll Adventures became a respected and successful business that set the standard for surf travel in the Maldives.
Tony continued to lead an adventurous life, traveling regularly to Sri Lanka, India and Australia, and surviving several crises – civil strife in Sri Lanka in 1983; a coup attempt in Male in 1988; and the tsunami on the south coast of Sri Lanka in 2004.He and Zulfa purchased property at Ulladulla, on the south coast of NSW as a long term retirement plan. In January 2008, Zulfa died there while under treatment for leukemia. This was a huge loss for Tony and for the Atoll Adventures company, but Tony returned to the Maldives to oversee operations for the 2008 surf season. On the afternoon of 27 May 2008, Tony was surfing at Pasta Point, finished a wave and did not surface, apparently after suffering a fatal heart attack. Seeing him face down in the water, other surfers and local surf guides pulled him out and performed CPR. The resort’s doctor saw him within minutes, but was unable to save him. Last rites, in the Muslim tradition, were performed at Male’s ADK Clinic.
Tony’s body was flown back to Australia, to be buried next to Zulfa at Mollymook cemetery on the NSW south coast. A large group of family, friends and surfing mates gathered at Mollymook Surf Club to remember him. Surfers held Paddle Out ceremonies at south Mollymook Beach and at Varunulaa Raalhugandu in Male. A final Paddle Out of local and professional surfers occurred the following week at the WQS contest at Pasta Point. Atoll Adventures continues to provide quality surfing trips at the same high standard that Tony established. Tony’s son Ashley is now CEO, taking an active role in managing and running the business. Dara Ahmed has taken on more responsibilities as Operations Manager, with the surf guides and other staff who have been mentored by Tony over many years. The extraordinary life of Tony “Honky” Hussein Hinde has ended too early, at the age of 55. So many surfers, travellers, friends and family members have enjoyed his company and shared his wisdom. He lived the surfers’ dream, and died doing what he loved most. The Maldives’ thriving surf scene and successful surf travel industry is his legacy, and he will be remembered as long as Honky’s peels left and wraps around the eastern end of Thaburudhoo island.