BORONGAN, Eastern Samar– A new swell pushed into Borongan Beach overnight and the outcomes for this year’s title race have shifted with the tide. Just when we thought we could predict this year’s results, today’s shortboard heats have left us all feeling shaken up. Here are the ultimate highlights of what may be the most unexpected and eventful day of the competition yet.
The difference between a hail mary and a smoking gun
In the second heat of the quarterfinals, we saw Neil Sanchez, winner of the La Union Pro, go head-to-head with Jefferson Dela Torre to secure a slot in the semis. Both surfers grew up with Sabang Beach in Baler, Aurora as their training ground so this made them both comfortable in fast and peaky beach break situations like today’s conditions in Baybay Boulevard.
Sanchez struggled to open with strong rides for the first half of the 20-minute heat, with scores not going over the 2’s and 3’s, while Dela Torre astonished the crowd when he landed an air that scored a 5.5. With the clock ticking behind him, Sanchez picked a wave that did not quite stand up for him at once but he remained patient until a favorable ramp emerged and he launched a major air of his own during the match’s final 30 seconds. Sanchez’s landing was a perfect buzzer-beater and the beach erupted in cheers. The judges deliberated for what felt like an eternity until the verdict was out: Sanchez needed a 5.91 but got only a 5.45. Of the two aerials in this heat, one was a hail mary while the other, a smoking gun.
Dela Torre advances to the semis to face off against the top title contender, John Mark Tokong, while Jay-r Esquivel will meet Piso Alcala for another epic throwdown.
Priority: friend or foe?
Tour veterans knew when to use priority against another surfer and this was what Philmar Alipayo intended to do when he paddled for a wave he had no intention of taking just to force John Mark Tokong into using his priority during a crucial heat in the Quarterfinals. When Marama took the wave, Philmar seized the opportunity to use his priority to wait for a more sizeable set wave from behind. He carved his way into what would have been his victory lap had he not slipped off in the final second.
On the beach, fellow competitors expressed their dismay at Philmar’s fall but Marama, grinning from ear to ear, embraced his surf brother and they thanked each other for a good fight.
This year’s wahines are ripping harder than ever
Advancing to the Semifinals is Siargao’s new breed of female chargers such as Jolina Longos, Stephamie Espadero, and Susan Escanilla. Joining them are Sorsogon’s secret weapons, Vea Estrellado and Edlyn Ermino, whose performances have improved year after year of competition exposure.
Nilbie Blancada, SEA Games gold medalist, proceeded into the semis with ease just as she effortlessly returned to the tour after giving birth to her firstborn son just 4 months ago. “I was already surfing a week after I gave birth,” beamed Blancada.
Completing the roundup of semifinalists are veterans, Daisy Valdez, and Nilbie’s sister and biggest inspiration, Nildie Blancada, whose champion career spanned an entire decade in the early 2000s.
Pride of Pundaquit
Selvester Bactad is the lone wolf to represent the region of Zambales for this leg of the tour and his quarterfinal finish was one against the indomitable powerhouse, Piso Alcala. It almost seemed like a David and Goliath story as Vester exhibited the best surfing he has ever done while on tour. Vester utilized the lefts with all his might to maintain a close fight but Piso’s razor-sharp backside approach could not be beaten for now.
The future is lit for Philippine surfing
The pounding white water was taller than some of our junior competitors like 10-year old Kai-Kai Alcala and 11-year old Borongan local, Nano Capacite, but this did not stop them from hacking their way throughout the second round of the Juniors Division. Alcala posted the highest score– a 5.83– in his heat against Gabriel Lerog and Jomarie Ebueza, however, he couldn’t find a wave of the same caliber to convert into a winning finish.
Meanwhile, Nano became the crowd favorite, drawing in cheers even from his competitors, because of his refreshing approach to his hometown waves. “With his slick and natural style, all he needs is experience and a good coach,” the judges stated. Nano’s foray into competitive surfing was cut short in Round 2, however, we now know who to watch out for next year.
In the quarters, Jomarie Ebueza revealed why he deserved to be called an off-the-lip virtuoso while Marbin Delamide gained more momentum and power as he won more heats.
We will see just how strong Marbin can get as he challenges Gabriel Lerog next in the semis. Ebueza will go up against Marbin’s brother, Lemar Delamide, to settle who deserves to be called the dark horse of the juniors contest. Hang on tight. This is bound to be the most exciting and unpredictable segment of the 2019 Championship Tour just yet!
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Written by Camille Pilar | Photos by Abdel Elecho
About Surf in the City
The Surf in the City Festival is a PSCT-sanctioned event brought to you by the City Government of Borongan, the Surfriders Club of Eastern Samar (SCES), the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, and Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Inc.
The Philippine Surfing Championship Tour is a premier professional surfing competition where top surfers from all over the Philippines compete in multiple locations around the country, vying for a spot in the national surfing team.
Already on its third year, PSCT celebrates Filipino surfers, passionate fans, and dedicated partners that together grow the Philippine surfing community to what it is today and what it was envisioned to be.
PSCT exists to set the stage and act as a platform for professional surfing in the Philippines, promoting Filipino surfers as world-class athletes and uniting the surfing community and fans by sharing the story and adventure of Philippine surfing one tour at a time.