18 December 2019, Cherating, Pahang, Malaysia: The final event of the 2019 RAST season wrapped up yesterday at Malaysia’s Cherating Beach in a day full of drama and excitement in the quest to select and crown event winners and 2019 Series Champions, with two surf off’s required in two divisions to determine champions, then a night full of partying to celebrate Japan’s Natsumi Taoka earning her 2nd consecutive RAST Women’s Longboard Championship win, while Brazil’s Hayanna Iguchi (Women’s Shortboard), Bali’s Rio Waida (Men’s Shortboard), and Masaya Tsukamoto from Japan posted their first RAST Series Championship victories, together with RAST #3 event winners Kusuma Rai (IDN) in Men’s Shortboard, Hayanna Iguchi in Women’s Shortboard, Masaya Tsukamoto in the Men’s Longboard, and Hawaii’s Mahina Akaka in the Women’s Longboard Division.
Luckily the weather and the waves cooperated with much better conditions for the final day of the event, with only intermittent showers, a few rays of sunshine, and fun 2-3 foot waves for the majority of the day’s competition.
The Men’s Shortboard Quarterfinals started the day with tensions high as the Men’s Shortboard championship race was very tight with Rio Waida, Mega Artana and Dhanny Widianto all having a chance to grab the championship title and the extra $1000 in cash if the cards fell their way.
Rio proceeded to knock out Mega in their quarterfinal matchup, but Dhanny also advanced into the Semifinals, then Rio was knocked out by Ketut Agus and Dhanny bested by first time RAST competitor Kusuma Rai, which resulted in a tie total score between Mega and Rio as each had a win and a semifinal finish, thus requiring a surf off after all the finals were run.
In the surf off Rio left nothing to chance as he was still smarting from his semifinal loss, so went to work on his backhand to post a couple of 7 point waves to take the lead, with Mega playing catchup with a pair of 6’s and in the end needing an 8.48 to best Rio.
“I was so bummed after I lost in the semifinal,” said Rio. “Ketut is so good and one of my usual rivals so I knew it would be hard, but it was still really tough to lose in the semi’s especially since I know if I got into the final I would win the championship” he added.
When asked about his getting a second chance at the end of the event for the championship he replied, “In the surf off I was determined to not make any mistakes like I did in the semi’s, but being against Mega it’s hard to beat him twice in one day, especially because he could do aerials on his forehand and I don’t have a good backside air, so it was never going to be easy. But I kept focusing on getting the best waves and sticking to my game plan, and I’m so stoked now that I got the championship. I didn’t get to win the event, but I got the championship so that’s a great way to end my year.”
2018 Women’s Longboard Champion Natsumi Taoka from Japan was also in a surf off with Dhea Natasya in her effort to win her 2nd RAST title, as although she bested Dhea in the semifinals, she lost to Mahina Akaka from Hawaii in the final. Both Dhea and Natsumi had event wins coming into the Cherating event but Dhea had a runner up finish as a backup, so when Natsumi lost in the final, both had equal points thus forcing the surf off. In the surf off, it was the WSL World Longboard Championship tour competitor Natsumi that was more in tune with the waves and came back to the beach with her second RAST Women’s Longboard title.
When asked how she felt after the surf off, Natsumi replied, “ I’m so happy to get this championship two times now in the REnextop series, and I always have so much fun here. When I arrived here this year everyone said ‘Welcome back to Malaysia”, which made me feel so good and so welcome. It’s such a great place and I can’t wait to come back again next year!”
The Women’s Longboard Division winner was Mahina Akaka from Hawaii, a first time RAST competitor who also competes with Natsumi on the WSL World Longboard Championship tour, who found Cherating to be very much to her liking. “I’m absolutely stoked to be here, as the people are so welcoming and nice, the food is amazing and the waves are absolutely perfect! It can’t get much better than this!” said Mahina.
When asked how she came to join the event she explained, “After Taiwan I went to Japan and found that some Japanese and Taiwanese surfers were going to Malaysia, and they said ‘come with us, the whole crew is going.’ So my mom agreed I could come, and I’m always down for new places and new experiences, so here I am.”
And she was very stoked with the waves saying, “It’s super similar to Noosa, a little longer and it goes left of course, but out of 10 I’d say it’s an 8.5 at least maybe even a 9. I absolutely love lefts, and even though I’m a regular, I will always take a left over a right. It’s like my dream wave, so I’m so stoked to have come here!
In the Women’s Shortboard Division RAST #1 winner Hayanna Iguchi (Brazil/Bali) had to go head to head with RAST #2 winner Dhea Natasya (Bali), who was also runner up in RAST #1. So it was an all or nothing battle for Hayanna, who found the Cherating wave a perfect playing field for her powerful backside surfing and handily won the final. Back on the beach after the horn sounded, she couldn’t believe she won the championship also and couldn’t say enough about the fun waves.
“Oh my god, I can’t believe I just won the event, and I didn’t even know or think about the championship until I was told about it just now! I’m so ecstatic, happy, surprised and everything else. The waves were so much fun, it was like having a freesurf during my heats, so I was so relaxed. With two surfers in the water and waves like this, it was epic!” she exclaimed.
When she was asked about why she came to join the event she answered, “I did the Bali RAST comp and it was lots of fun with a great vibe, and I’ve never been to Malaysia so thought it would be great time to come up and join this event with my brother Kian. I’m so glad I did and I’ll definitely be back for a freesurf next time, as I hear there are other good waves around also.”
In the Men’s Longboard Division it was an all Japanese affair in the final with the powerful and critical surfing of RAST #1 winner Masaya Tsukamoto up against the entertaining and varied style of newcomer Tata Inoue. Tata was surfing with an injured foot and mada a ereat effort, but was overpowered by a charging Masaya who won both the event and his first RAST Men’s Longboard Championship.
A big thanks goes out to the Safari X team and the Cherating Boys for all their hard work setting up and all during the event, dealing with the inclement weather conditions and providing support wherever it was needed.
Lillian Chen, the CEO of REnextop, had this message for all involved in the RAST series and specifically in Cherating: “On behalf of REnextop and the ASC, I want to thank Safari X as our local partner and the Cherating Boys as our hosts, and of course all the surfers that participated in this final RAST event of the year and all the RAST events. It’s been another great year for us, our 3rd year now, and we hope to have another great and even better series next year in more locations and with a bit more advance notice so more surfers can plan to attend. We really appreciate everyone’s support, and this has been such a great event and location for us to crown our champions. Wishing all the best to everyone and see you again in 2020!
RAST 2019 Champions
Rio Waida (IDN) – Men’s Shortboard
Hayanna Iguchi (BRA) – Women’s Shortboard
Masaya Tsukamoto (JPN) – Men’s Longboard
Natsumi Taoka (JPN) – Women’s Longboard
RAST 3 Contest Results
1st – Kusuma Rai (IDN)
2nd – Ketut Agus (IDN)
3rd – Rio Waida (IDN)
3rd – Dhanny Widianto (IDN)
1st – Hayanna Iguchi (BRA)
2nd – Dhea Natasya (IDN)
3rd – Diah Rahayu Dewi (IDN)
3rd – Ketut Tia (IDN)
1st – Masaya Tsukamoto (JPN)
2nd – Taka Inoue (JPN)
3rd – Didaqt (MYS)
3rd – Dean Permana (IDN)
1st – Mahina Akaka (HAW)
2nd – Natsumi Taoka (JPN)
3rd – Dhea Natasya (IDN)
3rd – Ami Kimazoe (JPN)
You can see the scores for RAST 3 and 2019 rankings on Live Heats at https://www.liveheats.com/events/2728