Some 40 men and 12 women from countries including Indonesia, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore, Ireland and Spain joined in the three-day RAST 2 event in the scenic beachside town of Patong Beach.
The finals were a testament to the fitness and courage of all the surfers that joined, as the wave conditions were nothing short of challenging, requiring strength, endurance, and strategy to not only fight their way out through the two-four foot thumping windswell waves but also to chose the best waves and complete the critical manoeuvrers that would get them the top scores from the judging panel.
Women’s Longboard and Shortboard winner Taoka, also a World Surf League World Longboard Championship competitor, was all smiles after receiving her winner’s checks on the podium, saying, “I’m so happy and surprised, I can’t believe I won the shortboard division and the longboard division also!”
When asked about how she happened to join in the event she explained, “I’ve heard about the REnextop events before and wanted to join, but my schedule never was right for me to be able to do it until now. So I’m really happy I was able to come this time, especially because my favourite food is Thai food!”
She continued, “Yes the waves were really challenging, but when the typhoons come into Japan it’s very similar so I have practised a lot in conditions like this, which definitely helped me win here today.”
In the Men’s Shortboard division, the final was an exciting dual between two Balinese surfers, Made Raditya Rondi from Kuta Beach and Made Darma Yasa from Padma Beach, where the lead switched multiple times but with Darma Yasa launching a huge aerial earning him the highest single wave score of the event in the final, an 8.10 out of a possible 10 points, to take the win.
It was a nail biter until the end, as with two seconds remaining before the final buzzer Raditya took off on a wave and pulled an aerial of his own, but it ended up falling just short of the 5.58 points he needed to overtake Darma Yasa, getting a 5.07 from the judges.
“The waves are difficult here, but I was lucky in the final that I got two really good waves and good scores,” said Darma Yasa after receiving his winner’s check.
“Surfing against Raditya in the final had me scared because he’s a previous ASC champion and I was lucky to beat him today.
“This event has been great, and even though the waves are much more difficult that my home beach in Bali, I’m so happy that I could come here and win today.”
When asked what he was going to do with his winnings he replied, “I’m going to pay for my kid’s school, and maybe I’ll party a little bit with my friends too.”
Esquivel competed in both the Longboard and the Shortboard divisions, winning the Longboard division and getting an equal third podium spot in the Shortboard division as well.
He showed off some amazing skills as well as endurance, and nabbed his first ever RAST victory as a reward.
“I got lucky and got some good waves in the final,” he explained, “with my strategy being to try to get the biggest scores by riding every wave I got all the way into the shore. So happy that it worked out for me and that I got my first REnextop win, so I’m really happy about that.”
When asked to comment about his experience here in Phuket, he replied, “It’s been really great here, even though there is lots of wind and the waves are challenging. The locals are really nice and it’s great to see some friends here that I haven’t seen since 2010 in Malaysia.
“I want to thank all my sponsors and supporters like Surf Town La Union, Tagpuan, Gwapitos, and others for making it possible for me and the La Union team to come here, …this win is because of them.”
REnextop CEO Lillian Chen was also very happy with the event, saying, “This is a new destination for us, so we were a bit nervous about what we would experience, as there was some rain and storms in the forecast. But overall we had mostly sunshine, and we had waves every day, so for us it was really a successful event.
“I think it challenged the surfers a lot, but it was a great experience for them and for us together,” she said.
“We had surfers from several new countries…Malaysia, India, Singapore and of course Thailand, so it accomplished the goals we have for our events, and that is to keep growing the surfers that join with us.
“We saw a lot of smiles today and all during the event, and that’s the most important thing for us. It was great to be here and we thank Surfing Thailand, Joob and Decha and their crew, and the Patong Municipality and all the sponsors for making this event such a great success.”
Head Judge Keenan Roxburgh was also very positive about his first experience here in Phuket and what he saw in the local surf community.
“It was great to be able to experience this event in Phuket, to see some new winners and also the regular RAST surfers keeping up their consistency and doing really well.
“It was also great to work with the local crew here and see how quick they are to learn and how they want to make the best out of the opportunity to make their domestic events better and more professional, with things such as using the four man priority system.
“I’m glad we could come here and work with everyone and have a great time as well” he said.
RAST #2 Phuket Results
1. Darma Yasa - Bali
2. Raditya Rondi - Bali
3. Rogelio ‘Jay R’ Esquivel - Philippines
3. Darma Putra - Bali
1. Rogelio ‘Jay R’ Esquivel - Philippines
2. Masaya Tsukamoto - Japan
3. Rico B Dumaguin - Philippines
3. Dean Permana - Indonesia
1. Natsumi Taoka - Japan
2. Dhea Natasya - Indonesia
3. Kairi Sekiguchi - Japan
3. Daisy Valdez - Philippines
1. Natsumi Taoka - Japan
2. Daisy Valdez - Philippines
3. Leena Mun - Korea
3. Aping Agudo – Philippines