12 December 2011 – Cherating, Malaysia: In an exciting finale to the Billabong Cherating Pro 2011, Indonesia’s Raditya Rondi dominated both the relentlessly pounding South China Sea waves and his fellow finalists to take the Men’s Open Division victory yesterday at Cherating Point in East Malaysia. With this being the final event of the inaugural 2011 Asian Surfing Championship Tour season, Rondi also claims the title of first Asian Surfing Champion, a historic milestone in Asian surfing.
It was a battle not only against his competitors but also against the elements, as the further increase in swell from the previous day had the waves in the 3-4 foot range with a raging rip current making paddling against it all but impossible. After catching a wave, the surfers would usually get washed half a kilometer or more in a matter of minutes, and have to paddle in to the beach and then run back up to the point to jump in again. It was a test of strength and endurance as well as surfing ability, and after the final Rondi said jokingly, “Maybe that gave me an edge. I was the youngest guy in the finals, and maybe the most fit, so I still had some reserve power that maybe they didn’t, which got me in position to get the best waves.”
Always modest, Rondi played down the fact that he absolutely ripped apart his very first wave to post the highest single wave score of the day, 7 points out of a possible 10, which had the crowd on the beach cheering wildly. He went on to add another good score halfway through the final to clinch his hold on first place and leave the runner up spot to Teiki Balian from France, third place to Tipi Jabrik from Indonesia, and fourth place to Kuo Heng Liang of Taiwan.
Rondi was clearly ecstatic about not only his win but becoming the first ASC Champion, saying “This is a really a great moment for me, to be the first ever Asian Surfing Champion, and I’ll remember it forever. Back home in Indonesia, it was Pepen Hendrik that was the first Indonesian Surfing Champion back in 2004, and now its 2011 and I’m the first ASC Champion. I’m so stoked right now, and feel so honored.” When asked about his experience this year surfing on the ASC Tour he replied, “I’ve had so much fun, traveling to different parts of Asia, making new friends, seeing new places, and surfing fun waves. I really think it’s a great idea and really important to surfing. It gets us out of our usual places and helps us improve our surfing. I’m looking forward to next year already!”
In the Women’s Division final, it was 4-time Indonesian Women’s Surfing Champion Yasnyiar “Bonne” Gea who took the win in the final minutes over 13 year old Annissa Flynn from Thailand, who seemed to have the victory in hand until Gea scored big points for her now patented layback maneuver, her second of the final, which turned the win over to Gea. Gea also claimed her spot in history today, becoming Asia’s first Women’s Champion. “I’m so happy to both win today and to be the Asian Women’s Champion,” she said. “I hope I can be a good example for other women to follow, so we can get more girls out surfing together.”
In the Master’s Division it was Aril Zainal whose local knowledge got him the best waves and the top scores, as he seemed to know just where each section was and how to hit it for maximum points. He was clearly worn out from the effort of surfing three heats, but stoked on his victory, saying with a laugh, “I’m so tired I can barely carry my board back, and I’m so glad its over. There is no way I could go out for another heat after this!”
The Billabong Cherating Pro 2011 was a very successful event, drawing almost 70 men and women contestants from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, the Maldives, Taiwan, France, Denmark, Australia, and Switzerland to compete for cash, products, prestige, and fun in this 3 star Asian Surfing Championship sanctioned event, the 8th and last stop on the 2011 ASC tour.
Finalists in the Men’s and Women’s Divisions received cash, a Nixon watch, and Von Zipper sunglasses, and the Master’s finalists received product vouchers and the winner receiving a Nixon watch.
Billabong Asia’s Brand Manager Peter Thew was on hand to join in the fun over the weekend, and had this to say after the awards presentation: “It’s always good times for us here at Cherating, and it was exciting to come back again this year. This is a great grassroots event and with the ASC coming in this year there are a bunch of new countries seeing Malaysia surf for the first time. Hopefully we can continue to grow this event but still keep it true to its grassroots core, helping to nurture and build the Malaysian surfing community. Looking forward to coming back next year to do it again!”
The Billabong Cherating Pro 2011 was sponsored by Tourism Pahang, Satu Suku Surf, Billabong Asia, Nixon, and Von Zipper with media support from Surfersvillage.com, Lines Magazine, Thai Surfrider Magazine, SurfTime Magazine, Baliwaves.com and RVM, and sanctioned by the Asian Surfing Championship Tour.
Billabong Cherating Pro 2011 Contest Results:
Men’s Open Division
1. Raditya Rondi – Indonesia
2. Teiki Balian – France
3. Tipi Jabrik – Indonesia
4. Kuo Heng Liang – Taiwan
Women’s Open Division
1. Yasnyiar “Bonne” Gea – Indonesia
2. Annissa Flynn – Thailand
3. Hung Che Chun – Taiwan
4. Brenda Lee – Malaysia
1. Aril Zainal – Malaysia
2. Sean Gilhooley – Australia
3. Hazmin Harun – Malaysia
4. Hirano Takayuki – Japan
Encouragement Awards: Juliette Allan (France) and Samuel Chris (France) – Billabong Gift Vouchers
Best Beach Marshal – Landy Ismail (Malaysia) – Billabong Gift Voucher
Local Surfers Potential: Shahir and Ijak (Malaysia) – New Surfboards