Siargao girl surfer wins Asian championship

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 Nov) – After drawing big scores in the series of leagues in Southeast Asia, Siargao girl surfer Nilbie Blancada bagged the most coveted crown of the 2016 Asian Surfing Championship (ASC), which is co-sanctioned by the World Surfing League (WSL) and ASC, that concluded in Taitung, Taiwan last Sunday.

In the men’s division, Siargao’s best wave rider, Philmar Alipayo, ranked second place in this year’s ASC series.

Tim Hain, media event officer of the Asian Surfing Championship, told MindaNews on Thursday that the 23-year-old Blancada from General Luna, Siargao Island has become the first woman champion from the Philippines.

“In ASC Women’s Division it was a race all the way to the final between the Philippines’s Nilbie Blancada and Indonesia’s Kailani Johnson, as both entered the event with equal championship points, and then both advanced out of their semifinal heats to meet in the final,” Hain said in a press statement.

Blancada wasted no time in the 25-minute final, getting on the board early with a 6.5 score and then circling around on the inside righthander to post several average scores, holding the lead for the majority of the final.

But France’s Uhaina Joly came on strong in the last 5 minutes to push Blancada down into second place and take the win. However, with her second place finish and Johnson’s third place finish, Blancada claimed her first ASC Women’s championship title.

“The Asian Surfing Championship tour … started with the WSL-ASC Mentawai Pro at Lances Right, then the WSL-ASC Komune Bali Pro at Keramas, the ASC West Sumbawa Pro at Yoyos/Supersucks, the ASC Quiksilver Padma Challenge in Bali, the ASC Hello Pacitan in East Java, the WSL-ASC Siargao Men’s Cup at Cloud 9 in the Philippines, the ASC Rote Open on Rote Island-East Indonesia, and finally ended here at the WSL-ASC Taiwan Open of Surfing in Taitung,” Hain said.

He said Blancada has become consistent in these series and finished each tournament with great score.

Last July, Blancada bested 12 topnotch surfers from Australia, Argentina, Indonesia, Taiwan and Japan, earning her first title on Indonesian waters during the four-day Quiksilver Padma Challenge.

Last October, Blancada also grabbed the 2016 crown in Rote Island Women’s Open in Indonesia. Blancada out surfed the 2015 ASC Champion Rina Ritazawa of Japan.

“I feel so happy today. I am surf champion of Asia. I have proved that you don’t need to come from a rich family to be a champion. I come from a poor family in a small village on Siargao Island in the Philippines. When I was 14 years old I started borrowing boards and [went] surfing. I love to surf. It’s that love that has kept me going for the past few years. It hasn’t been easy for me to find surfboards to ride and money to travel, but so many people have helped me. I want to thank my sister so much for supporting me and for everyone who has ever sponsored me. I owe them so much,” Blancada posted on her Facebook account shortly after she won the crown.

She added that she still dreams of more things – riding bigger, more perfect waves; teaching young Filipino kids the joy of surfing, surfing on the world tour, becoming world champion.

“Really anything is possible if you dream big enough and work hard enough,” Blancada said.

The other Siargao native who placed second place in the men’s division, meanwhile, said this has been his “best year ever.”

“I still can’t believe it all, and I thank everybody that has been supporting me to make it possible. I want to do even better next year and reach my goal to be the ASC champion,” said Alipayo of General Luna town.

On his first year competing on the ASC Tour, Alipayo won his first event during the West Sumbawa Pro back in July, then taking second place at his home break of Cloud 9 in Siargao at the QS 1500 Siargao Men’s Cup in September.

This year’s champion in the men’s division is Dede Suryana of West Java, Indonesia. Suryana claimed his second ASC tour championship as he was also crowned champion back in 2014). (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)