Siar­gao’s rank­ing up­grade brings mixed feel­ings

Action Asia - - NEWS & VIEWS -

IN SURF­ING, RECOG­NI­TION of your suc­cess is a dou­ble-edged sword. Just ask the owner of Sa­gana Re­sort, Gerry De­gan, who’s been liv­ing on the is­land of Siar­gao in the Philip­pines for more than 20 years. Ear­lier this year, the World Surf League (WSL) up­graded the Siar­gao Cloud 9 Surf­ing Cup, which De­gan or­gan­ises, from a QS1,500 event to QS3,000. QS stands for Qual­i­fy­ing Se­ries, with 3,000 be­ing the num­ber of points t hat go to t he e vent wi nner. Su r fers who ac­cu­mu­late enough points at this level can step up to QS6,000 events, then QS10,000, and ul­ti­mately, the Holy Grail: the fully pro­fes­sional Cham­pi­onship Tour. The up­grade means not only more qual­i­fy­ing points for com­peti­tors, but in­ter­na­tional cov­er­age, live broad­cast on the WSL web­site, and a prize pool of US$75,000 split be­tween 30 con­tes­tants. The new sta­tus is likely to fur­ther fuel in­ter­est in the is­land and its fa­bled Cloud 9 break. “Vis­i­tor num­bers have dou­bled since four years ago when Siar­gao first got on the WSL as a QS1,000, and the num­ber of re­sorts here, tripled, even quadru­pled,” says De­gan. “Right now, the waves are def­i­nitely not able to sus­tain the sheer num­ber of surfers; but the type of peo­ple who come has shifted too. There aren’t a lot of hard-core surfers any­more, the typ­i­cal Amer­i­cans and Aus­tralians and even the Ja­panese groups com­ing to learn surf­ing. We see more Euro­peans here now.” “As a surfer, I’d be pretty frus­trated with the num­ber of am­a­teurs there are here, but I guess this is nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for any break that’s mov­ing up the lad­der.” De­gan is con­cerned that a fur­ther in­flux of vis­i­tors will tax the is­land’s sew­er­age, garbage dis­posal and re­cy­cling sys­tems but is happy to see Asia’s grow­ing pres­ence on WSL’S radar. It’s also im­por­tant to him that th­ese surf spots are ben­e­fit­ing the lo­cals. “WSL is re­ally fo­cus­ing on Asia and are mov­ing to China, Tai­wan and Indonesia; it’s a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion. For us old, crusty guys we’re prob­a­bly not happy with it, but look, I just look fur­ther afield to get my waves,” he said. “In na­tional events, the ma­jor­ity par­tic­i­pants are Filipinos: the kids here are ad­dicted to it [surf­ing]. Once they have a board they can go out on the waters. Now it’s just a mat­ter of hav­ing the priv­i­leged kids do­ing it along­side the poor kids.” Mean­while out on the wa­ter, a Brazil­ian was mak­ing the most of the event’s rise in sta­tus. Raoni Mon­teiro won the 2017 com­pe­ti­tion, bag­ging the new quota of 3,000 rank­ing points, a feat he last ac­com­plished at the Vans World Cup at Sun­set Beach, Cal­i­for­nia in 2010.

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