The 25th International Siargao Surfing Cup, a World Surf League Qualifying Series worth 1500 points this year, was a blast. The “Filipino superstar John Mark Tokong” as described in a WSL report, brought home the victory in a tremendous Final against Hawaiian Noah Beschen.
All Filipino participants were eliminated in the first two rounds, except John Mark “Marama” Tokong, who remained the only Filipino standing in the competition. The finals day was an unbelievable one with a pumping Cloud 9 offering solid 4-to-6 foot waves.
John Mark ‘Marama' Tokong was on fire and he put on a show that was more than worthy of a champion. During the quarterfinals he racked up a hugely impressive 18.75 points out of a possible 20, but in the semifinals he performed even better with two waves in the excellent range once again to accumulate an unbeatable 19.05 points.
Noah Beschen, from Oahu, Hawaii encountered Marama in the final - during which the wind began to turn slightly onshore and as a result both surfers looked to go to the air to lock in a big score as the iconic Cloud 9 barrels become harder-and-hard to find.
Marama led the heat by almost nothing for the majority of the 40-minute battle, leaving the crowd to hold their breath for the whole time. But with a little more than a minute left, Beschen took off on a set and lined up for a tube that never materialised, which forced him to launch into a huge rail-grab straight air. Beschen landed the air smoothly to earn 8.60 points, which saw him take the lead, and with so little time left, it looked as though he had snatched the victory away from the local hero, whilst also being set to claim his first QS victory. At that moment, the shocked crowd, in despair, thought that it was all over for their favourite… but all was not lost yet as the unbelievable happened… with only 15 seconds to go a set came out of nowhere and Tokong took off into a deep tube, came flying out, as he so often does, and then bashed the lip.
"In the end, I almost gave up because there was no time left and then when that wave came I knew exactly what I had to do," Tokong continued.
As the finalists paddled back to the tower, the crowd held its breath as they anxiously waited for the final wave score of Tokong to drop. A minute later, the scores came through and Marama had done exactly what he needed to do as he posted a 7.80 to claim the victory by just 0.05 of a point and be crowned the 25th champion of the International Siargao Surfing Cup. As the score quickly filtered through the tower began to shake as the local crowd burst in rapturous applause for our champion.
All photos by Tim Hain