28 April 2015, Siargao Island, Philippines: It was a very full day of competition with 16 heats of Round One of the Men’s Open Division completed as well as 8 heats of Round One of the Junior Division to open the Vans Cloud 9 Masters today in 3-4 foot wind affected but very contestable waves.
In the Men’s Open Division it was the red rashguards (top seeds) that emphatically displayed their mastery of Cloud 9 in the often tricky and ever-changing conditions, managing to make it look easy by putting together impressive combinations of maneuvers to win their heats and secure Round 2 berths.
In the first heat of the day it was top seed and defending champion Piso Alcala easily winning his heat with great wave selection and gouging big turns. Goofy footer PJ Alipayo used his cat-like reflexes to adjust to the changing wave conditions and pull off a couple of potentially knee-exploding floaters to prove that backside surfing can be equally as exciting at Cloud 9 on a day with minimal barrel potential.
And speaking of barrels, it would be predictable that Rodolfo “Osot” Alcala, known as “The Barrel Master of Cloud 9” would find a barrel on a day where they were all but impossible. He also managed some mean hacks and even attempted a small air at the end section towards the end of the heat. When asked if he’s been practicing his air game for conditions such as these he replied slyly, “Nah, I was just messing around!”
There was no sign of “just messing around” when Carlito Nogalo took to the water in the final heat of the Men’s Open, as he just went to town blasting mean in-the-pocket hacks and roundhouse cutbacks throwing buckets of spray everywhere to leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that the top spot on the podium was his ultimate goal in this event.
In the Junior Division, young Cloud 9 ace John Mark “Marama” Tokong was blowing up all over the place,with air’s, deep gouging turns, and even a sneaky little barrel, letting the field know that he was indeed the kid to beat.
5-year-old Kai-Kai Alcala had his first go at a surf contest today, and had the audience cheering with each wave he got. He was all smiles before and after but a bit short on words when asked for his thoughts. His mom Manette was on the judging panel today and will be competing in the Women’s Division of the event either tomorrow or the day after.
In addition to the surfing action, there were several celebs around including Luke Landrigan (who is also competing), actress-models Sam Pinto, Chloe Dauden, Rufa Mae Quinto, Frencheska Farr and musician-surfer Franco, all part of the Van’s posse headed up by CEO Wendell Cunanan, who all enjoyed watching the surfing and cool island vibe at the Philippines most iconic surf destination of Siargao Island.
At the close of competition today, Contest Director Dencio Dizon had this to say as when asked what he thought of what went down on Day 1; “I’m really happy how the day went, as we successfully completed 24 heats, which was a great start. And although the waves weren’t as perfect as we would have liked, the tricky conditions really showed the skill level of the surfers, how they still managed to post high scores and do some impressive maneuvers even in the windy and fair-sized conditions. Now we’re looking forward to another full and eventful day tomorrow, and hoping for less wind.”
Tomorrow’s exciting action will continue with the remaining heats of the Junior Division, then on to Round 2 of the Men’s or Round 1 of the Women’s tomorrow, with a call time of 8:30 am to assess the conditions for an anticipated 9:00 am start.
The Vans Cloud 9 Masters is sponsored/supported by The Rail, Illest, FluidSurf, Mad Kahuna, Son of a Beach, Cloud 9 Surf Co., Maya Siargao Villa & Golf, Kawayan Siargao Resort, Siargao Inn Beach Resort, Reef Beach Houses, the Municipality of General Luna, and the Province of Surigao Del Norte, and sanctioned by the Asian Surfing Championships.