- WSL / Tom Bennett

Competition is off to a flying start at the 2022 Siargao International Surfing Cup pres. By San Miguel with 16 heats being competed in super clean, two-to-four foot, perfect pits at Cloud 9. The international field shone but it was a group of Filipino up and comers who caught everyone's attention in the early rounds.

Noah Arkfeld Noah Arkfeld was one of the local standouts on Day 1. - WSL / Tom Bennett

Cloud 9 youngster Jayuard Alciso (PHL) is surfing in his maiden Siargao International Surfing Cup pres. by San Miguel, something he has been waiting for since 2019, the last time the event ran. The super fast natural footer made the most of his opportunities, posting the highest two-wave total of the event so far which included an excellent 8.25 (out of a possible 10). Alciso's connection with the Cloud 9 tube, paired with his super-quick rail game, was a warning to his opponents as he progressed into the Round of 32.

"I've been so excited to compete in this international event," Alciso said. "With the pandemic and then the typhoon it has been a tough few years here in Siargao so it is so cool to see all of the international competitors here and enjoying the pumping waves we have at Cloud 9. The waves are perfect today and everyone seems to be having a lot of fun. I was glad to get a few decent ones and show what I can do in the good waves."

Jayuard Alciso Jayuard Alciso posting the highest single wave of the opening day. - WSL

The 2022 Siargao International Surfing Cup is the first time the men's and women's event has been combined in it's history and one of the ‘Queen's of Cloud 9,' Nilbie Blancada (PHL) showed the international field how it's done, threading a long clean tube on her first wave of the morning. Blancada's experience was obvious as she patiently waited for set waves to comfortably win her opening heat and progress into the Round of 16.

"It's been so long since we have had the international women's event here at Cloud 9 and I love to see all of the female competitors back here and learning the wave," Blancada siad. "I definitely think my experience out here is helpful but I don't want to get ahead of myself as there are some incredible surfers in the next round. I hope the waves continue as they are because when they come they are so perfect."

Nilbie Blancada Nilbie Blancada showed her knowledge of Cloud 9 on Day 1. - WSL / Tom Bennett

Noah Arkfeld (PHL), Piso Akala (PHL) and Pj Alipayo (PHL) were three other locals who stood out on Day 1, all claiming convincing heat wins in the perfect barreling conditions.

One of the international standouts on Day 1 was Byron Bay's Taj Richmond (AUS) who was competing in his first ever WSL QS event. Richmond, who has spent a lot of time here in Siargao, was lucky to find a bomb set in the dying seconds of his heat to post a near excellent score to move from third to first and win the heat.

"I don't usually compete but I've always wanted to do this event and fortunately this year I was around for it," Richmond said. "It's such a fun event as it is such a perfect wave and today the waves are pumping. I'm stoked to make it through but I know it's going to get harder as the locals are so incredible out here. There are so many highly skilled surfers in the Philippines, I can't wait to see where they go on the world stage one day."

Taj Richmond Taj Richmond on a dream runner. - WSL / Tom Bennett

Another international who is competing at Cloud 9 for the first time was Bali based English surfer Georgie-May Hicks (ENG) who was able to claim a win in her first heat of the event. The stylish young goofy footer relished the opportunity to surf perfect waves with only a couple of people out and is keen to keep improving when competition resumes.

"I'm so happy to be here in the Philippines," Hicks said. "Everything is amazing, the people, the food and especially the waves. It was really good to get out there and get a few waves with no one else out as it's been really busy in the warm up sessions. I'm so excited to get the chance to surf Cloud 9 with only a few others out once again."

v Georgie-May Hicks setting up a Cloud 9 tube. - WSL / Tom Bennett

Event directors will reconvene at Cloud 9 tomorrow at 6:30 am local time to make a call on getting competition underway.

The 2022 Siargao International Surfing Cup QS 1000 event will run at Cloud 9 from October 15 - 21.

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