- WSL / Hiroshi Ichino

John Mark Tokong (PHL) and Sara Wakita (JPN) have claimed victory at the 2023 White Buffalo Hyuga Pro, World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000 event. The pair were two of the standout performers all week at Okuragahama Beach, overcoming a solid field of competitors all looking to qualify for the Challenger Series through the Asia region.

John Mark Tokong John Mark Tokong chaired to victory. - WSL / Hiroshi Ichino

Filipino surfer John Mark Tokong (PHL) has taken his first significant win outside of the Philippines, showing he can perform in the small Japanese beach breaks as well as his local hollow reef break of Cloud 9. In the Final, Tokong came up against one of the event favourites, Daiki Tanaka (JPN), who had posted massive scores all week. The pair both scored a number of mid-range scores, but Tokong's aerial antics got the nod from the judges with a two-wave total of 12.80 (out of a possible 20). After the Final, Tanaka and Tokong sit solidly in the top 5 on the WSL Asia Regional rankings at 3 and 4, respectively.

"It feels so good to win in Japan," Tokong said. "This is a massive moment for me to win a QS 3,000 at an international event. It's been a great week here, and the best waves were definitely in the Final. They were so perfect and clean."

John Mark Tokong John Mark Tokong - WSL / Hiroshi Ichino

The women's Final saw Japanese duo Sara Wakita (JPN) and Mirai Ikeda (JPN) go head-to-head at Okuragahama Beach, with both competitors in need of a big result if they're to qualify for the 2023 Challenger Series. Ikeda had been turning heads all week with her continual domination of the top seeds, but in the end, it was Wakita's flow and finesse that saw her take a narrow victory. Wakita has moved to sixth on the regional rankings and will need solid results at the last two events of the season if she's to find her way back onto the Challenger Series.

"I definitely didn't put on the performance I was hoping to in the Final," Wakita said. "In the end, it was enough, and I think I can be proud of my performance throughout the whole event. This result gives me hope to qualify for the Challenger Series. I need to prepare for the two upcoming events in Australia and aim for big results there."

Sara Wakita Sara Wakita - WSL / Hiroshi Ichino

The 2023 White Buffalo Hyuga Pro QS 3,000 will run from March 2 - 5.

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