SIARGAO, Philippines - Living up to its reputation as one of the world’s best righthand barreling waves, Cloud 9 delivered solid 5- to 6-ft perfection on Sept 24 at the Asian Surfing Championships [ASC] 6-star Men’s Open Division of the 19th Annual Siargao International Surfing Cup. The Siargao locals showed off their tube-riding virtuosity by posting the day’s highest scores and eliminating ASC’s number one ranked surfer, Raditya Rondi from Indonesia.
At least 6 surfboards and just as many legropes fell victim to the crushing forces of Cloud 9, a wave that many compare to the famous Backdoor of Hawaii’s North Shore Pipeline.
Rounds One and Two, as well as two heats of Round 3, were completed before the competition was called off due to the afternoon low tide.
Round One got underway just after 6am, with 32 of the 48 competitors in hot pursuit of a heat win, which propelled them directly into a Round 3 berth where they met up with ASC’s highest-ranked surfers, and 4 finalists from the Siargao Cup Nationals competition.
The first highlight of Round One was Siargao local Carlito Nogalo putting on an impressive display of competitive surfing during his 20 minute heat, posting 7.67 and 8.17 scores on his best two waves to earn the praise of ASC head judge Mark “Boonga” Clift. Nogalo's final combined two wave heat score was 15.83 points out of a possible 20.
15 year old Marama Tokong did not let his lack of formal training and coaching get the best of him
15-year-old Marama Tokong dropped in behind the peak in the very next heat, in triple overhead waves to score barrel rides of 7.50 and then a whopping 9.17. He easily won his heat with a total score of 16.67.
Heat 6 of Round One saw Philmar Alipayo post 8.0 and 7.27 point scores to win his heat with 15.27 points. In Heat 7, it was a battle between Paul John Alipayo and Pete Pete Alipayo for the win, with Paul John besting Pete Pete by just 1.43 points.
Paul John, on his backhand, posted the day’s highest single wave score of 9.8 points out of a possible 10, an almost perfect wave score for a super deep barrel. He actually surfed behind the foam ball in the middle section of the wave before getting spit out the end section. His final point tally was 17.47 points, the highest heat score of the day.
PJ Alipayo posted the highest single wave score
Though Pete Pete was relegated to second spot with his heat score of 16.03 points, he made the most of his Round Two opportunity by scoring first a 6.83 and then a massive 9.5 to finish with a 16.33 point total, far ahead of his closest competitor who only managed a total of 6.6 points. Pete Pete showcased remarkable consistency in his heats scores, both in the 16-point range.
In order to give the non-seeded surfers the opportunity to surf twice during the competition, the heat winners from Round One advanced directly into Round 3. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers competed again in Round Two, where only the 1st place finisher advanced into Round 3.
The Round Two highlight was Siargao local Donesio “Dodo” Espijon winning his heat and ticket into Round 3 by getting deep backside barrel rides, posting first an 8.0 and then an 8.83 for a total heat score of 16.83.
In the first heat of Round 3, local Mark Cannon won the heat. Osot Alcala came in second to eliminate current ASC number one seed and two-time ASC open champion Raditya Rondi.
Bali's Pepen Hendrik won his heat
In the final heat of the day, Heat Two of Round 3, Indonesian Pepen Hendrik from Bali won despite having sustained a significant injury in an early morning warmup session, hitting the reef with his face and puncturing his lower lip and chin, requiring stitches.
“I guess I was too relaxed and maybe still half asleep this morning,” said Hendrik. “I just saw there was [sic] great waves so I didn’t stretch or anything, just paddled right out. I was kind of lazy paddling for that first wave and it just slipped out from under me. I hit the reef for just a second and then it sucked me up and I was almost standing up in waist deep water with blood pouring from my chin,” he explained.
According to the Sept 25 swell forecast, the current swell is predicted to be even larger than on Sept 24, then peaking on Thursday morning, Sept 26, the finish of the Men’s Open. Women’s action will commence once the swell conditions are suitable, possibly on Friday, Sept 27, but most likely on Saturday, Sept 28.
See the day one highlights in this video: