Japan Crowns Cooga Harada and Minami Nonaka as Shortboard Champions at Shizunami Beach
REnextop Asian Surfing Tour (RAST) Stop #2 in Japan Crowns Cooga Harada and Minami Nonaka as Shortboard Champions at Shizunami Beach, Makinohara
In an exciting conclusion to three days of competitive surfing at Shizunami Beach, Makinohara yesterday, 17 year old local boy Cooga Harada took the Men’s Shortboard win over Miyu Furukawa in testing 1-2 foot wind affected surf, just after 16 year old Minami Nonaka bested 2-time ASC Women’s Champion Rina Kitazawa to take out the Women’s Shortboard division win.
Clearly it was a day for the younger surfers to step up and make their mark on the event that was joined by almost 60 surfers from 6 countries in the four surfing divisions.
Saturday was a long day of competition for the 18 men and 9 women surfers in the Shortboard divisions from Japan, China, the Philippines, and Taiwan, requiring 17 Men’s heats and 8 Women’s heats to decide the winners, starting from just after 8 am on Saturday morning. The judging panel headed by Australia’s Keenan Roxburgh certainly deserves a big hand after putting in a long day with small and windy surf that challenged both them and the competitors. But they got the job done and done right.
After the beachside awards presentation, Men’s winner Cooga Harada was asked to say a few words about his victory, to which he replied, “I was excited to join the event when my friends told me about it, and I’m so glad I did. But even for me the wave conditions were difficult today, and I surf here all the time. I was up against Miyu Furukawa in the final and I’ve competed against him before so I knew I would have to really try hard because he’s a really good surfer. So I made sure and got some waves early in the heat to get into the lead, and then keep trying to get bigger scores. I knew I could win if I got the best waves, and I guess that worked good for me as I won.”
From the first heat of the day it was clear that both Cooga and Miyu had their eyes on the top spot of the podium, as both surfers managed to consistently find the steeper sections and successfully perform aggressive maneuvers on the small waves, exhibit amazing flow and control.
In the Women’s final, 16 year old Minami Nonaka who now calls Chiba home, was also a standout from her very first heat, dominating each heat and winning by a clear margin in each one. Rina Kitawaza, a two time ASC Women’s champion, also won each of her heats but wasn’t as dominant as Minami, so when they met in the final it was Minami who took out the win, coming in to the beach with a two wave total of 12.6 to Kitazawa’s 9.0 after the 20 minute final had ended.
“I was really happy to join in this event,” said Minami after receiving her winner’s check. “Because it gave me chance to compete with other surfers from other countries. I’ve never competed outside of Japan, so this was a great opportunity for me. And though the waves were really difficult with the onshore wind, making it hard to get a good wave and make strong maneuvers, it was a great experience. So to win in this kind of conditions makes this win even better, so I’m really happy to come home with the 1st place prize,” she added. She definitely impressed the crowd on the beach as well as the judging panel with her ability to smash waves and perform multiple turns in the small and difficult waves.
The first two days of the RAST #2 event were spend in search of the Men’s and Women’s Longboard champions, and fortunately the wave conditions were perfect for it. On Friday afternoon, the second day of competition, Indonesia’s Dean Permana took the Men’s Longboard win and Daisy Valdez won the Women’s Longboard division.
REnextop CEO Lillian Chen was all smiles at the end of the event, saying "It's been really great to have this RAST Japan stop in our tour, I'm so happy that it all came together this way. Thanks to all the surfers that came from all over Asia like mainland China, Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan, and thanks to the Makinohara government and the ASC for their support, as it couldn't have happened with out them. Already after this second stop, we've seen the surfer's friendships getting closer and it's becoming a great community, so I hope more and more surfers will join us to enjoy life, and enjoy surfing! Big thanks again to everyone involved, and we'll see you next in the Philippines."
The RAST #2 event concluded with a beachside awards presentation and speeches by Mayor Nishihara of Makinohara, Li Hao of REnextop, and Tim Hain from the ASC, and then it was straight into food and drinks and DJ music until about 10 pm to close out an epic RAST #2 event.
Look forward to the next stop of the REnextop Asian Surfing Tour that is planned for the Philippines in December, and then the series will culminate in a grand finale in China on Hainan Island sometime in January 2018.
Men’s Shortboard Results
1. Cooga Harada (Japan)
2. Miyu Furukawa (Japan)
3. Haruka Naitou (Japan)
3. Eito Ikeda (Japan)
Women’s Shortboard Results
1. Minami Nanoka (Japan)
2. Rina Kitazawa (Japan)
3. Mariko Urana (Japan)
3. Sekiguchi Kairi (Japan)
Men’s Longboard Results
1. Dean Permana (Indonesia)
2. Takahiro Tuchiya (Japan)
3. Asumi Hironori (Japan)
3. Matsuzaka (Japan)
Women’s Longboard Results
1. Daisy Valdez (Philippines)
2. Monica Guo (China)
3. Chiho Koike (Japan)
3. Sekiguchi Kairi (Japan)