Over 100 of the world's best surfers have arrived in the Philippines for the annual Siargao Cloud 9 Surfing CupSiargao Cloud 9 Surfing Cup to be held at its namesake, which is a perfect righthander. The event has been upgraded to a QS3,000 this year and has attracted the biggest and best field to date.
A huge crowd along with national dignitaries gathered at the famous Cloud 9 boardwalk to officially open the event this afternoon. The importance of this event was obvious with highly ranked political figures on board to open one of the Philippines biggest annual sporting events.
Having won the event in 2015, local favorite John Mark Tokong will be one to watch when competition gets underway. Tokong knows Cloud 9 better than most and his stellar record at the event is evidence. Although he will be surfing against higher rated competitors than usual, his technique and poise in the tube at his home-break will test the best surfers on the planet.
"It's amazing to have the Siargao Cloud 9 Surfing Cup back," Tokong said. "It's always amazing to see the internationals come and surf Cloud 9. With the event being upgraded to a QS3,000 the field is looking really strong. I'm always confident here but it will be harder than ever to win this event this year. I can't wait for it to start and hopefully get some amazing surf."
Portugal's Nic von Rupp has been competing on the QS for a number of years, but names Cloud 9 as one of the best locations he's come to compete at. Known for his prowess in the barrel, Von Rupp will be hoping that Cloud 9 delivers on his first trip to the Philippines.
"Surfing perfect reef break waves in the tropics for a QS is pretty unheard of," Von Rupp said. "This is my first here in the Philippines and it is amazing, really beautiful and so much potential for waves. I don't think I have ever been barreled in a QS so that's why I came here, I'm really pumped."
One of the events top seeds Matthew McGillivray is another surfer who has come to the Philippines for the first time. The young South African has been impressed with what he has seen so far and is hungry for a solid result at Cloud 9.
"This place is pretty much a perfect tropical paradise," McGillivray said. "The swell has been small the last few days but you can see the potential of the wave. I have not been to a QS at a more idyllic location we are really lucky to be here. The fact that it has been upgraded to a QS3,000 made it an easy decision to come."
In 2016, 16-year-old AustralianSandon Whittaker won the Siargao International Surfing Cup in what was undoubtedly the win of his career. In 2017 the razor-sharp goofy foot is back and keen to take home the top honors again.
"It's amazing to be back in the Philippines again," Whitaker said. The waves are always sick so it makes sense that the event has been upgraded to a QS3,000. It's a much bigger field with some higher-ranked guys this year so it will be tough to go back-to-back but I'm keen to have a good go at it."
Watch the event live here on the WSL site for the first time in history.