On Cloud Nine in the Philippines

Gary Kewley
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Friday - October 24, 2008
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Kenny Hurlburt stalls for a guaranteed tube at Cloud Nine in the Philippines

Aloha, surfers and beachgoers,

I’m sitting at Patrick’s On The Beach on a tiny island called Siargao (Sar’ gau). It’s on the east coast of the Philippines.

I’ve lived in Village Park for nearly 20 years and had the pleasure of having wonderful neighbors, many of whom came from this beautiful land. And I mean beautiful. It has more charm and charming people than you can imagine - and it’s got world-class waves. There was a time we thought the Philippines had no waves; now we know they have countless waves among some of its more than 7,000 islands. You could spend your whole life exploring.

The main surf spot is “Cloud Nine.” They recently had a WQS event in which a local talent won. The wave is a ludicrous right-hander built for tube riding. It reels at mock speed down the line, getting shallower as you go. The “soft foam” reef is 2 to 3 feet below, and I had my share of scrapes with it (it’s not that soft). Cloud Nine is not for intermediate surfers - experts only. In fact, it’s populated with body boarders who have an easier time “making” the drop and barrel. Not to fret; there are tons of spots you can “outrigger” motorboat out about 400 yards. These are the more gentle waves.

Johnny was our most awesome local boatman. He’s totally stoked on surfing and made our surf trip all-time. Aloha lives in the Philippines. My buddy Ken Hurlburt, who works for Hawaiian Airlines, hooked me up with a buddy pass (he’s also my new best friend - see the photo). We’re already talking about 2009.

Well, the time has arrived for the big-wave competitions. It officially kicks off with the Xcel Pro at Sunset Beach this Sunday, Oct. 26, and continues through Nov. 10. I had the pleasure of spending a little time with Xcel Wetsuits founder Ed D’Ascoli on his 25th annual event.

GQ: First off, a huge congrats to your 25 years and success, Ed. Whatcha looking forward to the most this year?

ED: Matching up the new guys with the more-experienced veteran watermen ... and the fun of it all. Of course, it all depends on the waves.

GQ: Are you winding down and surfing more now that you sold Xcel to Billabong?

ED: I’m not winding down ... I have three more years. My goal is to make the transition so they won’t know I’m missing after I’m gone, and to keep it here in Haleiwa. I’m surfing the same amount.

GQ: Is Reid Inouye (Heavywater Mag) still running it?

ED: Yes, I’m overseeing it and Reid’s got it down. The event runs on automatic pilot.

GQ: What else is new?

ED: This year we’re giving one of our permit days to the Billabong Junior Pro.

GQ: Very cool. I know they got a day off earlier this season.

ED: There’s some good talent who’ll be surfing in both events.

GQ: So how about a few facts, like how much money is there?

ED: It’s an $80,000 WQS Pro and Amateur contest with 132 competitors, half of whom are from here. It can be a huge stepping-stone event for these guys.

GQ: Well, if the past 25 years are any indication, we should get great waves for at least one or two of the three days.

ED: That’s what I hoping for ... GQ: I’ll be ready for your call early this Sunday morning for on, off or standby status.

ED: You’ve got it.

Well, that wraps it up for this week. Be sure to call 596-SURF or 638-RUSH or visit surfnewsnet-work.com for the Xcel Pro 2008!

GQ, dropping in 4 U!


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