It's been another phenomenal day of surfing at the 24th annual Siargao Cloud 9 Surfing Cup, with Round 3 being wrapped up in super clean 4-to-6 foot waves. There were barrels-a-plenty for the dominant top seeds and competition moved closer to the pointy end of proceedings.
In a day filled with impressive performances, it was no surprise that the standout competitor was defending event winner Raoni Monteiro. The former elite Championship Tour (CT) competitor willed some of the best waves seen all day in his direction to post an excellent two wave total of 17.80 (out of a possible 20.) This included a near perfect 9.47 for a deep tube ride that saw him ride over the foam ball to be spat out into the channel.
"I'm so stoked to be back here in paradise," Monteiro said. "It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been and the waves are totally pumping. Last year we had some good days but this year is so amazing. I've just been psyching to get out there and get barreled. We are so lucky to get to surf waves like this with no one else out. I really want to just enjoy my time here and surfing these waves."
Before the day ended, a few of the early heats of Round 4 were run with the opening heat being a super heat involving local hero John Mark Tokong, Jack Robinson, Joe Van Dijk and Elliot Paerata-Reid, all incredible tube riders. Robinson went over the falls early in the heat, which seemed to put him out of rhythm along with Paerata-Reid who got crunched on a couple of closeouts. Local lad Tokong put on a show as expected, posting a 16.33 heat total. It was Victorian Van Dijk however, who dominated, scoring a near perfect 9.60 and backing it up with a 7.67 to win with a heat total of 17.47. Van Dijk's finesse and control in deep difficult barrels gave him the win of his career.
"I knew those guys were going to be amazing in these conditions but I just focused on myself and what I needed to do which was get tubed," Van Dijk said. "I've never surfed waves this good in an event - it's so perfect out there. There are a couple of waves at home (Phillip Island, VIC) that are really similar so I was pretty comfortable out there. That was definitely the best heat of my life and I could be on the way to getting my best result of my career so I'm so stoked."
Australian youngster Morgan Cibilic (AUS) started his campaign in fine form at Cloud 9 posting an excellent 8.83 (out of possible 10) to take a healthy lead in heat 5 of Round 3. Cibilic backed it up with a strong mid-range score to win the heat and progress with fellow New South Welshman Ty Watson (AUS).
"I've been so frothing for this heat all week," Cibilic said. "I was a bit concerned the tide might be a bit low as we were so early this morning but turns out I ended up getting some of the best barrels of my life. I've been here for a week and it hasn't stopped pumping and it doesn't look like it will stop anytime soon either."
Former WSL Championship Tour competitor Blake Thornton doesn't compete as much on the QS these days but always makes sure he gets a start at Cloud 9. After a few shaky early round heats, the Maroubra local kicked into gear, finding some long tube-rides to take a convincing win and progress into Round 4.
"This is one of my favourite places in the world to come and surf," Thornton said. "I don't compete too much these days but will always make sure I can make it to this event and it pays off in years like this when the waves are pumping. I only just made it through my first couple of heats so I'm really happy to get a bit more of a solid win in that heat."
French competitor Timothee Bisso opted to for the left-handers that were on offer at Cloud 9 as he posted an impressive heat win. The goofy-footer was pleasantly surprised when he arrived to see that the north swell was providing equal opportunity on the lefthander's as on the perfect rights that Cloud 9 is best known for.
"I have been watching my friends compete for the last few days and have seen all of the lefts so knew I'd have an opportunity to go left here today," Bisso said. "Before I came here I'd only seen rights so was stoked to see that there is a sick left on the wave too. It also gives everyone in the heat more opportunity which is great."
After taking out back-to-back QS1,000 events in Indonesia recently, Liam O'Brien found himself in a position to compete in the QS10,000 in Portugal. Unfortunately O'Brien just missed the entry cut off and opted to return to Cloud 9. He didn't seem to mind missing the higher rated event after winning his opening heat in perfect barrels in paradise. He will progress into Round 4 along with local legend and former event winner Philmar Alipayo, who snuck through in second place.
"I really wanted to head to the 10,000 in Portugal," O'Brien said. "I was disappointed I missed the entry, but it really has been a blessing in disguise because the waves here are absolutely perfect. I'm just so stoked to have made a heat so I can get more perfect waves with only a few guys out."