Sixteen-year-old Australian surfing sensation Sandon Whittaker pulled off an upset over local favorites to snatch top honors and bring home US$8,000 in the recent Siargao International Surfing Cup held at Cloud 9 in General Luna, Surigao, del Norte.
Gaining 1,500 points to move up in the international rankings to the Championship Tour, he edged defending champion John Mark Tokong, local favorite Philmar Alipayo, and a 62-man field from Australia, the United States, Hawaii, Brazil, Indonesia, France, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, Israel and New Zealand.
Alipayo, top winner of the West Sumbawa Pro 2016 held last July in Bali, bagged runner-up honors.
Australians Shane Holmes and Mitchell Parkinson shared third place, while fellow
Aussie Jordan Lawler, perennial winner Piso Alcala of Siargao, Skip McCullough and Mitchell James of the US settled for fifth place.
Sanctioned by the World Surf League (WSL), and the Asian Surfing Championships (ASC), the tournament is a Qualifying Series (QS) 1500 event.
The ASC gave the Cup a 6-star surfing ranking in 2014, making it one of the qualifying stops for the Asian Circuit, giving Siargao the rating of ASP-World Qualifying Series 1 Star and ASC Grade 6—ASC tour’s highest rating.
Situated on the Pacific seaboard of Surigao del Norte, Cloud 9 is listed as the eighth best surf spot in CNNGo’s list of the World’s Top 50 Best Surf Spots.
The event was presented by the Department of Tourism in partnership with the Municipality of Gen. Luna, the Province of Surigao del Norte and the House of Representatives Congressional Office, and co-presented by Siargao Bleu Resort and Spa, and Silangan Mining Corp.