By Erwin M. Mascariñas
General Luna, Surigao del Norte — Some 64 participating surfers from 13 countries returned to Siargao Island to compete at the Philippines longest-running and biggest annual international sporting event, the Siargao Cloud 9 International Surfing Cup in General Luna town, Surigao del Norte last Friday.
World Surf League (WSL) Contest Director Will Hayden-Smith pointed out on the WSL website that after two spectacular events throughout the Asia region over the last month, competitors hungry for QS points will shift their focus this week to the hollow right-hand barrels of Cloud 9 for the third and final stop, from the Oct. 4 to 9.
“The first few days will see medium waves with perfect offshore winds and great tides for Cloud 9. We’ve got plenty of time up our sleeve so (we) can really pick out of the best conditions. We’ve got an awesome field of internationals along with the always dangerous local surfer’s so this is bound to be a really exciting week of surfing,” said Smith.
On its 25th year, the competition is part of the World Surf League (WSL) Asia sanctioned Men’s Qualifying Series (QS). This year WSL Asia has given the event a QS1,500 category, giving surfers on the circuit a chance to gain additional extra QS points with a total US$15,000 in prize money up for grabs.
“With the QS ranking, surfers are expecting more WQS points, giving competitors a chance to gain higher overall WQS ranking points. Everyone wants a slice of the points, the prize money is more of an added icing on the cake,” said Gerry Degan, event director
Degan pointed out that the winning surfer will bring home $5,000, while the second spot with $3,000 and then $1,500 for the third spot.
At the first Round kick-off on October 4, surfers from Australia, Japan, Argentina, Indonesia, Ecuador, Hawaii, Venezuela, Coasta Rica, United States of America, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and from The Philippines passed towards round two of the competition.
2018 winner, Skip McCullough returns to Cloud 9 and passed both the first and second rounds of the competition.
Of the 21 Filipino surfers who competed in the first round, only two surfers have not been eliminated from the competition, namely Jr Esqunel and John Mark Tokong, who won the 2018 second spot.
Siargao Representative Bingo Matugas, the lead organizer for this year’s event, said the 25th edition is being held in honor of the late Atty. Jaime Rusillon, former mayor of General Luna, Surigao del Norte who passed away early this year.
Rusillon, with the support of Surigao Del Norte Gov. Francisco “Lalo” Matugas, started the series of surfing tournaments in 1993 with the Siargao Surfing Classic.
“This is a milestone for Siargao and the entire surfing industry since we are commemorating our 25th year. But most importantly, we are staging this event to honor the father of surfing in Siargao, Mayor Jaime Rusillon,” said Congressman Matugas.