6 February 2020- San Juan, La Union, Philippines: As predicted, the swell arrived on schedule and allowed the organizers to run first the Women’s Longboards and then the Men’s Longboards to complete Women’s Round 1 and Quarterfinals, then Men’s Round 1 and 3 heats of Round 2 at the 8th annual Single & Unattached 2020 Classic Single Fin Surf Contest and Beach Fest today.
The morning’s competition started off at just on 8 am with the Women’s Division getting beautiful and glassy 1-2 foot waves, and then by mid-day the swell kept pushing as the tide rolled in and by mid-afternoon it was a solid 3-4 feet with sideshore wind and occasional closeout sets.
When the Quarterfinals of the Women were completed, it was Nique Miller from Hawaii, Aping Agudo (PH), Josie Prendergast (AUS/PH), Hye Huyn Song (KOR), making it into the 1st Semifinal, and La Union local Daisy Valdez, Ikut Agudo (PH), Alicia Kelley (HAW), and Chiaki Ikeda JAP) in Semifinal 2.
Hawaii’s Alicia Kelley’s is a first-timer to the Philippines, and she was all smiles after making it into the Semifinals and very stoked to be in La Union. When asked about her Quarterfinal heat and her experience in the Philippines so far, she replied, “Honestly I had a bit of anxiety at the beginning of the heat coz I’d never surfed Mona Liza Point as big as this since I arrived here a few days ago, and I wanted everyone out there to be safe and have a fair chance at catching waves! As far as my trip so far, I’m really excited to be here as it’s my first time and I really like it. I want to move here! I was just telling my mom about it earlier today how it feels like my home away from home. The people here treat you like family….I’ve never been so far away from home yet had the feeling like I’m at home, because they always want you to have a great time and take care of you. I’m just so happy to be here!”
In the Men’s Division, it was all about big scores, and the first to post an excellent score (8.0 out of a possible 10 points) to win his heat was Roger Casugay (PH), who won a gold medal in Men’s Longboarding at the recent South East Asian (SEA) Games that were held here at La Union just last December. After his heat he said, “I had a good time out there, as I used a different board than I normally use and it was so sick! It is a heavy board but it was perfect for today. The waves were so good out there during my heat, and I’m happy to get an excellent score. I really enjoy this comp, I don’t know how far I will go coz all the guys are so good, but it doesn’t matter really coz we’re all here to have fun together.”
When asked about his new-found fame as a gold medal winner, he replied with a smile, “I feel the same, I’m still the same old Roger like before. Well, it changed a little maybe…better than before I think.”
Two heats later, Japan’s Shohei Akimoto upped the ante with an 8.43 score on top of a 7.00 to rack up an impressive 15.43 total heat score (out of a possible 20 points). “I’m so stoked to get those high scores, this is so fun! I’ve was here in La Union about 10 years ago, so I’m happy to be back here again. So nice here, the waves are so good!” he said.
Finally, La Union’s own Jay-R Esquivel, a silver medalist in the recent SEA Games, came very close to surfing a perfect heat by posting first a 9.00 wave and then an almost perfect 9.73 to end the heat with a total score of 18.73, just less than 1.5 points short of a perfect heat total, all in conditions that definitely challenged the other surfers in the heat, the closest of which could only post a 10.93 total score by the end of the 20 minute heat.
Jay-R downplayed the obvious challenge that the waves presented to surfers on logging equipment more suited for 2 foot glassy waves than 3-4 foot side-shore-wind-affected and bumpy conditions saying “It was fun out there, I was just talking with the other guys in between waves, then when the waves came I just did as many maneuvers as I could. I’m always trying to do a good variety to maximize my scores, so after I got that 9I decided I’d just go for it and take some chances and it paid off with that 9.7. I can’t wait until tomorrow as I think the waves should be fun for us again.”
According to the swell forecast, the waves will be a bit smaller and that should allow for some great logging especially in the first half of the day. Saturday’s forecast is for an increase in swell, and that should provide a great opportunity to finish up the event.
You can check the Live Heats website at https://liveheats.com/events/2975 to see all the scores live as event progress and to see which divisions will be competing.
Check the singleandunattached_ Instagram site for photos, videos, and updates.
If you have any questions about the event, please email [email protected]
All photos courtesy of Tim Hain/ ASC