[PH Travel] Nilve Blancada surfs her way to victory

MANILA, Philippines - The Roxy Siargao International Women’s Surfing Cup was held last May 1 to 4, with conditions starting at 4-feet and the occasional 5-feet set wave. Southern winds picked up in the afternoons, shotting down what could have been near-perfect waves.

This is not the first all-girls event held at Cloud 9 in Siargao, but this is the first time that an Asian Surfing Championship event was held in the Philippines.

ROXY-FIED. The tower at Cloud 9 where surfing fanatics stayed for the best view of the competition.

ROXY-FIED. The tower at Cloud 9 where surfing fanatics stayed for the best view of the competition.

By Day 3, the wind had dropped; so did the waves. The judges made a call at noon to continue running the semis rather than risk calling it off for another day and be greeted by even smaller swell.

Semi-finals 1 saw Philippa Anderson — who came in 2nd at last year’s World Junior Championships — up against 20-year-old local girl Nilve Blancada. In what was considered the most exciting heat of the event, Nilve proved that local knowledge has its merits as she knocked out top-seed Philippa after 25 minutes of solid surfing from both wahines.

Semi-finals 2 saw another Australia VS Siargao heat with former pro surfer Kim Wooldridge surfing against Manette Alcala. Kim’s aggressive surfing style was a sharp contrast to Manette’s smooth, almost ballet-esque carving. The two traded wave for wave and it was difficult to call who was in the lead at any given time.

In the end, it was the Aussie that took out the Filipina.

INTO A BARREL. Philippa Anderson on day 2 of the competition.

INTO A BARREL. Philippa Anderson on day 2 of the competition.

Due to the period between set waves, the judges adjusted the finals to half an hour. There were several lulls during which the expectant crowd at the Cloud 9 tower became antsy to see what their local girl could do against a pro surfer like Kim. 

Both Wooldridge and Blancada were hard-pressed for waves, and neither one took off on more than 5 waves in total. So when a set rolled through, both wahines charged hard and made the most of their rides. Kim’s signature hacks and Nilve’s aggressive slashes kept the crowd entertained and the judges busy as one’s wave was answered by another.

In the end, not even the prolonged wait for sets and the elusive barrel rides could stop Filipino Blancada from outsurfing Australian Woolridge in the half-hour finals.

Nilve paddled in grinning. Her sister Nilde Blancada-Reitenbach (herself a top ranked Filipino surfer) was waiting to give her hugs and pour a bottle of San Miguel Beer on her head.

Nilve says she plans to use some of her prize money — a whopping Php 110,000 (a little over US$ 2,000) — to invest in a motorbike and help her family out.

SURFERS UNITED. Wooldridge and Blancada after receiving their prizes.

SURFERS UNITED. Wooldridge and Blancada after receiving their prizes.

The Roxy Siargao International Women’s Surfing Cup results:

1. Nilve Blancada (Philippines) - US$ 2,500 (Php 120,000.00)

2. Kim Wooldridge (Australia) - US$1,500 (Php 60,000.00)

3. Manette Alcala (Philippines) - US$ 750 (Php 30,000.00) and Philippa Anderson (Australia) - US$ 750 (Php 30,000.00) - Rappler.com

                     
(All photos by Kage Gozun and Pip Anderson. For more photos and videos of the event, visit Surfista Travels and TravelKage.