Local surfers rule int’l surfing competition in Siargao

CLOUD NINE, General Luna, Siargao Island (MindaNews/29 September) — Local surfers overcame stiff competition from their foreign counterparts for an all-Filipino finals cast in the three-day 20th International Surfing Competition that ended Sunday in this world-renowned surfing capital.

Edito “Piso” Alcala and Carlito Nogalo, both natives of Siargao, faced off in the finals won by Alcala, who also bagged the championship in the 2008 edition of the competition, also in this town.

Alcala bested Nogalo in a 30-minute duel by pumping four- to five-foot right hander barreling waves.

Alcala’s two top scoring waves in the finals were a 9.55 and a 9.90, two almost perfect scores for an almost perfect heat, 19.45 out of a possible 20 points.

His win came with a cash prize of at least 4,000 USD.

In the quarterfinals, the eventual champion broke his surfboard after his final wave, but scored a perfect 10 for a massive barrel in seven in his quarterfinal heat against 16-year-old ripper John Mark Tokong.

In the semifinals, the now two-time champion showed no mercy to frustrate young Australian Chris Zaffis’ bid for the title.

At the iconic wooden tower, friends and fans greeted Alcala, now a proud winner of the first-ever Association of Surfing Professionals Qualifying Series event.

On the first day of the competition, the humble champion had shown his dominance after garnering the highest scores in both best waves and best heat points.

“I’m very proud to win here today. This win is for everyone, for me, my family, the locals, and the surfers from around the world who continue to visit. I’d like to thank the Association of Surfing Professionals and the Asian Surfing Championships, and my sponsors Stoked Inc. and Siargao Inn, and everyone who comes here to surf,” he said.

Asked how it felt to compete against his friend Nogalo in the finals, he replied: “We hang out, and we’re good friends. And when the contest is on, that doesn’t affect us. Out there in the waves I still look out for him, and vice versa. But in the end one of us will win, and today it was me.”

“I know he’s happy for me just like I would be happy for him if he was the winner,” he added with a smile.

“Piso and I have been friends for a long time and we’ve also been competing with each other a long time. He’s very lucky that he was able to get some really good waves out there today. As for me, I got a few waves but it wasn’t enough to win this time. But there will next year. I train the whole year round so I’ll definitely be ready for another try next year,” Nogalo said when asked the same question.

The event was supposed to start on Sept. 24 but had to be delayed for two days because the waves were too small then.

Round 1 kicked off on Sept. 26, although it was only on the 27th that the swells increased significantly allowing for the completion of Rounds 2 and 3 for the total of 48 competitors coming mostly from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, US, UK and Indonesia.

The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals were completed in the best waves of the entire event.

This was a historic event for not only the local community but for Philippine surfing as a whole. With the support of the local government units and after a year of being sanctioned by the Asian Surfing Championships, the event was upgraded to an ASP 1-star World Qualifying Series event with a $15,000 prize purse.

Considered by many as the godfather of Philippine surfing for his long and unwavering support to the Siargao International Cup, General Luna Mayor Jaime Rusillon was already looking ahead to next year and promised it will be an even bigger ASP event next year.

“Even though I myself cannot surf, I’ve been supporting this event for a lot of years now and trust me, we will make it even bigger and better next year,” he said.

Governor Sol Matugas also attended the event today and after the finals had this to say:

“I really enjoyed the competition. I’m excited because it’s been hands-on work for me. We’re all so proud for having produced champion surfers that are at par with foreign surfers. Alcala and Nogalo are both from Siargao and they’ve been surfing for many years, honing their skills. I hope this international event will continue in the next twenty years and more with the help of private organizations and with the local government support,” Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol Siargao said after the finals.

“Surigao is also the only province the Philippines that is hosting two international events. Aside from surfing we also host the International Game Fishing tournament in Pilar. Hopefully we will discover other events we could stage here in Siargao to promote our island.”

Sanctioned by the Association of Surfing Professionals and the Asian Surfing Championships, the event was presented by the MVP Group of Companies and Manila Mining Corporation, with the municipal and provincial governments as event organizers.

It was supported by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, Department of Tourism, Cloud 9 Boardriders Club and Fluid Surf. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)