The event began yesterday (Aug 23), marking the start of five days of surfing competition with 110 surfers in total competing in combined shortboard and longboard divisions.
The Men’s Shortboard division yesterday completed 12 heats of Round 1 in two- to three-foot surf with onshore winds, with the event broadcast live to a worldwide audience and enjoyed by a crowd of locals and tourists on the sand.
John Mark Tokong, who hails from Cloud 9 in the Philippines, put up a great performance posting the highest combined heat score of 13.88 points (out of a possible 20), with a 6.25 for his first score and a 7.63 for his second.
During an interview the Siargao local said, “During my heat the waves were good, and I like surfing in beach breaks because the waves pretty much break everywhere, which makes it more challenging. I haven’t competed for a while, so I’m so stoked to win my first heat.
“I’m so lucky to be here in Phuket and to be invited to this competition. I’m very thankful because actually it’s my first time here. I love the place, especially the locals and the food,” he added.
Another standout was Malaysian surfer Mohd Nazrin ‘Yen’ Nasruddin from Cherating, Malaysia, a participant in the 2019 SouthEast Asian Games. The crowd, the judges and the commentators were impressed by his performance, as the crafty goofyfooter handily won his heat.
The familiarity of Kata beach to the Malaysian surfers may give them an edge in this competition. “We have a lot of friends here in Phuket. We always come here to Phuket to train and join surfing competitions,” said Yen.
During an interview, the coach and secretary of Persatuan Luncur Ombak Malaysia Azmi Yusoff explained that they are dedicating a lot of support and resources towards training Malaysian surfers by getting them to as many surfing competitions in Asia as possible.
“Currently, we do national surfing competitions in Malaysia, as we have five states in our country that are actively involved in organizing local competitions in their particular locations every year to help promote surfing and establish rankings among Malaysian surfers,” said Yusoff.
In addition to Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, there are also competitors from Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Russia, Brazil, Myanmar and Israel.