The beach was packed with tourists and locals, swimming and enjoying the Sunday sun and cheering for their favorite surfers as the competition ran through the remaining semi-finals and finals in all divisions to crown event champions.
When the competition horn blew for the final time, it was Hiroka Yoshikawa from Japan that claimed the Women’s Longboard trophy, Indonesia’s Dean Permana took top spot in the Men’s Longboard Division, Dhea Natasha Novitasari from Indonesia won the Women’s Shortboard championship, and the Philippines John Mark Tokong claimed the Men’s Shortboard number one spot.
In the first final of the day it was Yoshikawa continuing her run of winning each heat with her classic style and graceful moves and earning the highest scores, defeating young Qadeja Munirah Binti Musaddiq from Malaysia.
“I feel so happy and proud,” said Yoshikawa after the final. “My mindset was just to enjoy the contest. Everyone was so supportive here. I love it here, the food, the music, everything is awesome. I really enjoyed this event. When I go back to Japan I will definitely tell my friends and family how amazing Thailand is. I will be back here again for sure.” Yoshikawa takes the trophy and winning purse of B45,000 back to Japan.
Next up was the Men’s Longboard final, where Indonesia’s Dean Permana claimed victory over his long time friend and fellow Batukaras local Deni Firdaus in an exciting display of classic logging style, exchanging Hang Tens and Hang Fives and other impressive manuvers during the final.
“That might be the best final heat match that I have experienced so far,’’ said Dean. “I was lucky to get those clean right handers. But it was a challenge for me to meet my good friend in the finals. I remember back in the day, we just free surfed at home not knowing that one day we would end up here in Thailand competing in the finals and representing our country of Indonesia,” he added.
The two classic loggers showed their brotherly love by tandem surfing back to the beach before Permana received the winner’s trophy and B45,000 purse.
In the Women’s Shortboard Division, Dhea Natasha Novitasari from Indonesia defeated the crowd favorite Ziggy Mackenzie from Australia. Novitasari started out strong with a 8.25 score for her first wave and then backed it up with a 9.00 score with under three minutes left, leaving Mackenzie needing a 9.25 to take the win.
“The waves were a little bit messy in our heat as I think the tide was dropping rapidly, but it was ok as I was able to get the wave that I needed at the last minute,” said Notivasari. “I’m super stoked to win here in Thailand. Thank you to all my sponsors and my family for supporting me. I will definitely invite my friends to come here to Phuket, it has been an amazing experience,” she added. She returns to Indonesia with the winner’s trophy and B50,000.
In the final matchup of the event, the Philippines’ John Mark Tokong was up against Indonesia’s Nyoman Satria Mukti in the Men’s Shortboard Final, and at the end of the 25 minutes it was John Mark Tokong celebrating his first ever victory in Thailand, ending with a combined 15.30 score against Nyoman’s 13.40 in a tightly contested final.
“I know that Nyoman is dangerous here in the beachbreak. I’ve seen his style, and that’s why I started to be aggressive immediately so I could gain my momentum,’’ said Tokong.
“It was pretty tough out there. The waves were unpredictable but I just focused and said to myself I should get those lefts, so I did and luckily I won. This country is the best. I will be back here for the holidays with my family for sure,” he added. Marama (his nickname) takes home the winner’s trophy and a B50,000 purse to his family, as well as a lot of love from the crowd and his supporters.
Thailand Surfing Federation President Chanin “Joob” Aiyarak was very happy with the outcome of the event, saying, “It’s our pleasure to host this kind of event and showcase Phuket to the world, and I would like to thank all you guys because this event would not be possible without the ASC. We want to continue this tradition not just in Thailand but with all the Southeast Asian surfing communities. I would also like to see the effects of this event in the years to come. Thank you so much.”
Contest Director and ASC President Tipi Jabrik was glad to see the progression of Thai surfers and that the ASC has a leading role in the surfing history of Thailand. “The Phuket Beach Festival has been a big success,” said Jabrik. “Thailand has just shown their potential as the next best surfing destination in the world. I’m sure after this event people will have a much better idea of what Thailand has to offer, not just as a tourist destination but also for surfing. Congratulations to the winners! We have two Indonesians, one from Japan and one from the Philippines, and we also have runner ups from Thailand. This really shows off the diversity of the surf communities in Asia. Asia is an emerging region of surfing, so let’s keep the ball rolling and keep supporting surfing!”
In addition to the surfing competition, the Phuket Beach Festival also offered a food expo, music, live art and a beach party, which is hoped will become an annual tradition in Kata Beach for years to come.
The results of the Phuket Beach Festival International Surfing Competition can be viewed at Live Heats via this link: https://www.liveheats.com/events/40439/
To view the broadcast of the event and the daily video highlights: https://www.youtube.com/c/AsianSurfCo
See more on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Phuketbeachfestival/