29 November 2016, Taitung - Taiwan: Although the final day of the 2016 Taiwan Open of Surfing saw wet, windy and wild conditions to challenge the remaining competitors, it turned out to be a highlight event for the ASC and its surfers as not only did West Java’s Dede Suryana claim his 2nd ASC tour championship at the event (he was also crowned champion here in 2014), but Nilbie Blancada became the first Women’s Champion from the Philippines, and to put the icing on the cake, Sumbawa’s Oney Anwar won his first ever QS 1500 event.
Historically this event has treated Indonesian surfers very well and that tradition has continued, as the first ASC sanctioned Taiwan Open of Surfing in 2011 was won by Dede Suryana’s protégé from West Java Sandy Selamat, then in 2012 by Bali’s Raditya Rondi, and now by Sumbawa’s Oney Anwar in 2016, making for 3 Indonesian winners, 1 Japanese winner (Jun Shiba in 2013), and two Australian winners (Jordy Lawler in 2014 and Perth Standlick in 2015) in the time it has been sanctioned by the ASC and WSL.
“I’m so stoked to win, I can’t believe it,” said an ecstatic Oney Anwar after the final. “I knew it would be a difficult event as there are so many good surfers here from Australia, Japan, and Indonesia, so each heat I tried to start early and post a good score to send the message to the other guys that I wanted to win. Thankfully I got some good waves and good scores…so happy right now!”
Anwar is not stranger to the podium, as from a young grom in Indonesia he was competing on the Indonesian Surfing Championship tour Junior division winning just about every comp he entered before moving to Palm Beach Australia to go to school and train for his assault on the WSL World Qualifying Series with the goal of being the first Indonesian to qualify for the World Championship Tour.
Dede Suryana posted an equal 3rd finish in 2013, then in 2014 finished in Round 3 just ahead of Raditya Rondi to claim the 2014 ASC Championship title. This year he made it into the Quarterfinals but lost to Oney Anwar, however he scored enough points to take the 2016 ASC championship over Philmar Alipayo from the Philippines.
“I’m so thankful for all the support from my family back home, my sponsors like Quiksilver, Camden and Luke Studer Surfboards, and the ASC which has made this all possible,” said Suryana. “To come back here to Taiwan and win another championship title is a dream come true. I came here knowing it would be a challenge as it was really close between myself and Philmar in our title race, and with so many good QS surfers in this event I just had to keep focused and try my best. Luckily it was good enough. I always have a great time here in Taiwan, and look forward to coming back next year.”
In ASC Women’s Division it was a race all the way to the final between the Philippine’s Nilbie Blancada and Indonesia’s Kailani Johnson, as both entered the event with equal championship points, and then both advanced out of their semifinal heats to meet in the final.
But Blancada wasted no time in the 25 minute final, getting on the board early with a 6.5 score and then circling around on the inside righthander to post several average scores, holding the lead for the majority of the final. But France’s Uhaina Joly came on strong in the last 5 minutes to push Blancada down into second place and take the win. However, with her second place finish and Johnson’s third place finish, Blancada claimed her first ASC Women’s championship title.
On her Facebook page after the event Blancada wrote, “"I feel so happy today. I am surf champion of Asia. I have proved that you don't need to come from a rich family to be a champion. I come from a poor family in a small village on Siargao Island in the Philippines. When I was 14 years old I started borrowing boards and surfing. I love to surf. It's that love that has kept me going for the past few years. It hasn't been easy for me to find surfboards to ride and money to travel, but so many people have helped me. I want to thank my sister so much for supporting me and for everyone who has ever sponsored me. I owe them so much. So I am the Asian surf champion, but I still of more: riding bigger, more perfect waves, teaching young Filipino kids with nothing to do the joy of surfing, surfing on the world tour, becoming world champion. Really anything is possible if you dream big enough and work hard enough. Thanks everyone, I love you all!”
Kailani Johnson at just 14 years old can be nothing but proud at her achievements this year, her first full year surfing in the ASC Women’s Division and coming in at second spot in the rankings. “I know I didn’t surf my best out there,” said Johnson, “but it was a great experience for me and I’m looking forward already to next year, where I hope I can improve.”
It was also Philmar Alipayo’s first year competing on the ASC Tour, winning his first ASC event the West Sumbawa Pro back in July, then taking second place at his home break of Cloud 9 in the Philippines at the QS 1500 Siargao Men’s Cup in September.
“This has been the best year ever for me,” said Alipayo. “I still can’t believe it all, and I thank everybody that has been supporting me to make it possible. I want to do even better next year and reach my goal to be the ASC champion.”
So ends another epic year on the ASC tour, which started with the WSL-ASC Mentawai Pro at Lances Right, then the WSL-ASC Komune Bali Pro at Keramas, the ASC West Sumbawa Pro at Yoyos/Supersucks, the ASC Quiksilver Padma Challenge in Bali, the ASC Hello Pacitan in East Java, the WSL-ASC Siargao Men’s Cup at Cloud 9 in the Philippines, the ASC Rote Open on Rote Island-East Indonesia, and finally ended here at the WSL-ASC Taiwan Open of Surfing in Taitung.
The Asian Surfing Championships Awards Party will be in Bali at the Armada Flow House on Jalan Dewi Sri on the 17th of December, so come enjoy the celebration with Asia’s surfing champions! More info to follow.
Asian Surfing Championships
Photo Credit: Tim Hain (as marked) and (not marked) Taiwan Open of Surfing from Facebook page
About the Asian Surfing Championships (ASC)
The Asian Surfing Championships was established in 2010 as the progression of the highly successful Indonesian Surfing Championships that began in Bali, Indonesia in 2004. The mission of the ASC is to develop and progress the sport of surfing in Asia by assisting in the organizing and sanctioning of professional surfing events, which will help their growing surf communities and draw more attention to their areas for the progression of surfing locally, nationally, and throughout the Asian Region.
Since 2008, the ASC/ISC has sanctioned 195 events around the Asian region for an average of 24 events per year, ranging from junior events to co-sanctioned pro events with the World Surf League in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Maldives, the Philippines, India, Taiwan, and China, and the ASC event media releases and video highlights reach over 12 million viewers per year.