Wednesday, March 01, 2006



Baler, Aurora, home break to one of the oldest surf communities in the Philippines, hosted the first leg of this year’s Philippine Surfing Circuit. In a show of force, and lured by the Php23,000 prize for first place, over 80 Baler surfers signed up to compete in the qualifying rounds. Carrying the banner for distant Siargao island was a contingent of sixteen Siargao chargers who had traveled for 3 days to make it to Baler.

In the course of last year’s circuit, twelve Philippine surfers emerged as the country’s Top Twelve waveriders. This fortunate dozen, having already qualified for the Quarter Finals, were able to sit out the first two days of competition, held at the Sabang beach break.

At the end of the two-day qualifying rounds, four surfers slashed past the other trialists to earn wild card seats in the Quarter Final heats. These talented surfers would now have a shot to unseat a seeded surfer and maybe create a competition upset by making it through to the Semi-final and Final heats.

The quarter finals, moved to nearby Cemento reef break, was blessed by offshore winds and sunny skies. The intense heats demonstrated top caliber of local talent. But after the end of the day, it was clear that the visiting surfers from Siargao were dominating the competition, nabbing a majority of the slots for the next day’s semi-final round.

Come Sunday morning, there was the hint of a breeze in the air and the previous day’s sunny climate was threatening to be overshadowed by clouds on the horizon. Nonetheless, the right-hander famous for providing barrels did not disappoint. Neither did the remaining competitors as they charged wave after wave in fierce determination to nab one of four top spots in the finals.

The Junior Final saw the usual suspects in the line-up: Joe Henry Tena and Jeff dela Torre carrying the Baler banner while Zaldy Coldura and Joseph Antipasado surfed for Siargao island. Zaldy Coldura’s penchant for barrels made it clear from the first half of the thirty-minute heat that his rides were the ones to beat. The goofy-footer’s familiar pigdog stance made more than its fair share of appearances inside Baler’s barrels. True enough, Coldura charged his way to the Junior Championship. Right behind him was Joe Henry Tena, followed by Joseph Antipasado and Jeff dela Torre respectively.

After a heated two-round semi-final that pitted three homegrown Baler Boys against five from the Siargao crew, the Men’s Open came down to Baler’s Edmund Mendoza, and Siargao’s Dodo Espejon, Bonifacio Figuron and Alex Comandante.

It initially seemed as though the half-hour final heat was Alex Comandante’s or Dodo Espejon’s to take. The battle for first was on, with a tangible line drawn in the water separating the two from Figuron and Mendoza.

In the last few minutes of the heat, Dodo pulled into a wave that tipped the score over to his side. The 21-year old goofy-foot, who started the year in the number one slot defended his rank and started his year on the right foot. Comandante, Figuron and Mendoza placed 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively.

The 10th Aurora Cup was capped off by the awarding of the Aurora Cup, a hefty wooden trophy that bears the names of previous champions. Along with cash prizes and merchandise, guests and surfers alike were treated to a night of cold beer and live bands.

The Philippine Surf Circuit’s next stop is the island of Siargao for the 2nd Siargao Girls International Surfing Fest. The competition, held exclusively for wahines, is slated for the last week of April. For more information keep checking:

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