23 February 2014, San Juan, Philippines: The Coast Thru Life Single and Unattached Classic Single Fin VSM Beach Break Invitational 2014 enjoyed an exciting finale yesterday at Mona Liza Point with Arip Nurhidayat (INA), Daisy Valdez (PHL) and Jhenard Fernandez (PHL) each taking home championship trophies and cash in their respective divisions to end a perfect two days of good-vibe-filled traditional longboard surfing competition at the scenic coastal town of La Union in the Philippines.
Arip “Mencos” Nurhidayat. Photo: Tim Hain
After a perfect start to the competition on Friday at nearby Carille “Jesus” Point, which saw a total of 59 surfers from countries including Australia, Indonesia, Korea, the USA, and the Philippines competing in flawless 2-3 foot (1 meter) waves perfectly scripted for what is know in surfing speak as “logging” (the use of traditional 9 foot plus single fin surfboards), the competition was completed at Mona Liza Point, a common location for weekend surf competitions in La Union.
Though the waves conditions were more challenging and not as perfect as the previous day, Carille had gone flat overnight and with Mona Liza offering up 3-4 foot (1-1.5 meter) waves the remaining Quarterfinalists of the Men’s Division paddled out at 9 am, where the surfing action quickly draw cheers and hoots from the gathering crowd as the surfers would take off on the bigger waves, and occasionally wiping out and having to swim to chase down their surfboards, as one the few unique rules of the competitions was that no leash (legrope) could be used. Thus the event title, Single (for single fin longboard), and Unattached (no leash attaching the surfer to the surfboard)
Bindy Baggs. Photo: Kage Gozun
By 1:00 pm it was all over, with highlights by the dozen from the men, women, and the juniors competitors, and after the judging panel led by Asian Surfing Championships Head Judge Arya Subyakto had tallied up the points, the champions were announced and crowned on the steps of the Little Surfmaid Hotel.
Men’s Open Champion Arip “Mencos” Nurhidayat was over the moon with his win, having put on impressive display classic longboarding that included such maneuvers as hang 5’s, switchfooting, drop knee turns, and others, even a headstand! “I’m so happy to be the winner here, as this is my first time to the Philippines and to win this contest is really something special. I want to thank Buji, Nikki, and Nina from Coast Thru Life for making this contest, and for my sponsors Quiksilver, +62, Camden and the ASC for making it possible to come here,” said Arip.
When asked how he managed to pull off a win in those conditions and against the 3 La Union locals he replied, “I don’t know how I won, I just kept trying things and having fun out there. The wave here was way different than at Carille yesterday, and also different from my home break of Batu Karas in West Java, but it was fun too, as it gave me a lot of options to try.”
Arip also won the Nixon “Most Exciting Maneuver” of the event award for his unique Hang 5 switchfoot to Hang 10 then back to Hang 5 move, so he takes home not only a beautiful trophy and $1,300 USD Cash, but also a cool Nixon “The Unit” watch.
In the Women’s Division it was La Union local and mother of two Daisy Valdez that nabbed the championship trophy and $1,000 for her great performance, besting Australians Belinda Baggs and current ASP Australasian Women’s Longboard champion Georgia Young, and American Carla Rowland in the tightly contested 25 minute final.
Although Daisy took fewer waves and performed less maneuvers than her fellow contestants, according to Head Judge Subyakto the key to her win was taking the cleanest set waves and performing her maneuvers such as noseriding, footwork, bottom turns and more in the critical part of the wave under complete control, which is what the judging criteria calls for. Her familiarity with the wave as well as her low center of gravity was definitely an advantage in the conditions on offer.
When asked how she felt about her win she replied, “I’m so very grateful and proud of myself, to compete with these girls who are really good and win. I was just out there today to enjoy it, not expecting to be the champion at all. I’m happy and thankful that for this last day we got such good waves and at my home break. Carille and here are both good, but winning here at the place where I usually surf was the best.” When asked what she will do with her bundle of cash she said, “I’ve got two kids, a boy and a girl, so this prize money I’m going to save for them.”
In the Tiny Toes (16 and under) Division, it was 16 year old local Jhenard Fernadez who put on an impressive performance earn his championship trophy. Jhenard has been surfing since he was 7 and admits to having taken up longboarding only two years ago.
The Juniors Division Finalists. Photo: Tim Hain
When asked why he joined the event he replied honestly with a laugh, “It was something to do”. When pressed further about how he fancied his chances at the beginning of the competition against the other juniors Jhernard replied, “Yes, I was confident I could do well, and now I’m champion of the contest so I’m very happy! This is so good, very good!” It will be interesting to watch the progression of this young man’s surfing and how this win will influence the direction in which his surfing goes.
Viva Sports Marketing President Mike Ochosa was delighted with the quality of the event, stating, “We embarked on this project because we believe that our local surfers can compete with the best in the world. To know that they can become the best they need to match up with the best. We wanted to give them the opportunity and experience to know where they are at, where they can go but most importantly to believe that they can do it. We have world-class surf spots so our surfers should be world class as well. Our goal was simple: To start a competition and create momentum to make it a yearly sporting event. Goal achieved.”
Later that evening after fire dancing, hula hoop, and drum performances on the beach in front of host Kahuna Beach Hotel, the final awards presentation included awards to the surfing and also the non-surfing events on the day’s Beach Break agenda, and then it was party time for everyone as DJ Badkiss got the crowd to their feet and dancing until the midnight hour.
Buji Libarnes, who with Nikki De La Paz and Nina Santa Maria conceived of both Coast Thru Life and the Single and Unattached event format was nothing if not stoked at the end of the two days. “Wow, it just keeps getting better, and next year will be even bigger and better for sure,” said Libarnes. “We hope to see the ASC and everybody back here again next year, with even more international participants. Thanks to VSM and some great sponsors, as well as the help of the La Union Surf Club, we were able to have an epic event and I couldn’t be more happy!”
Libarnes went on to explain the origins of the Single and Unattached event; “I’ve always been into the classic and more traditional side of longboarding, but here in the Philippines they have always given more credit to the high performance side. Before, I would enter longboard contests with my single fin log and never get very good scores for my classic moves, only for performance moves, so I thought why not bring in that traditional side of surfing and make it the highlight for a surf contest.” And in regards to the name, he replied, “We came up with the name as a play on words for Valentine’ Day, as its during the month of love, and also for the fact that you can only use a single fin traditional surfboard and you’re not allowed to use a leash. Everybody seemed to like it, and after the turnout we saw this weekend I can hardly wait until next year!”
Men’s Invitational Division
1) Arip “Mencos” Nurhidayat (INA) - $1,300 USD
2) Jay-R Esquivel (PHL) - $750 USD
3) Luke Landrigan (PHL) - $450 USD
4) Junior Ventura (PHL) - $200 USD
Women’s Invitational Division
1) Daisy Valdez (PHL) - $1,000 USD
2) Belinda Baggs (AUS) - $400 USD
3) Georgia Young (AUS) $300 USD
4) Carla Rowland (USA) - $100 USD
Tiny Toes Division
1) Jhenard Fernandez (PHL)
2) Daryl Esquivel (PHL)
3) John Paul Bersamina (PHL)
4) Warren Lopez (PHL)
The Coast Thru Life Single and Unattached Classic Single Fin Longboard Contest and VSM Beach Break was sponsored/supported by: Rider Sandals, Mavshack, O+ USA, Vans, Nixon Watches, Crystal Clear, GoPro, Coast Thru Life, FluidSurf, Planet Zips, El Union Coffee, La Union Surf Club, Kahuna Beach Resort, San Juan Surf Resort, and Little Surf Maid, with media partners VIVA TV, PBO, MTV Pinoy, GNP, Philippine Star, My Life On Board, Play FM, Planstan, Spin.ph, Rappler, Pep, Juice and Click the City
- Release care of Tim Hain of the ASC; photos as indicated.